Shaftsbury Resident Honored
Vermont Business Magazine has selected Shaftsbury’s Kristen Blaker for their prestigious Rising Stars recognition award, comprised of 40 winners under the age of 40. Award recipients were selected by a panel of judges for their commitment to business growth, professional excellence, leadership and involvement in their communities. Blaker was the only nominee from Bennington County to be selected for this award. The awards were announced in Vermont Business Magazine’s November issue, and honorees received their awards during a reception in South Burlington. Also in attendance were Governor Shumlin and Governor Elect Phil Scott. She was nominated by the Friends of Hiland Hall Garden (HHG) based on her extensive work with the HHG education and outreach programs, and the impact she’s had on students at the Village School of North Bennington and other groups she and her staff have worked with, including the Bennington School for Girls and Head Start.
Sandra Magsamen from the HHG Board of Directors reported, “Kristen not only teaches our students how to grow vegetables. Her contagious, optimistic and generous spirit nurtures our community, reminding us that for anything to grow it must be cared for.” Tim Newbold, Head of School at the Village School of North Bennington, praised Kristen for her unique partnership with the school. “Kristen plays many roles at The Village School: parent, Hiland Hall garden teacher and art teacher for the Vermont Arts Exchange. She approaches each of those roles with energy and enthusiasm. Her wonderful partnership with the school is one of the things that makes our school so special and we congratulate her on being awarded the VBM’s Rising Star designation.
When asked about highlights in her career, Kristen replied, “A career highlight for me was when I realized that my garden educational program now hosts over 165 students in North Bennington area, teaching them about healthy eating, gardening and mindfulness.” She added, “I love involving the community in the work that we do at the gardens. We have parents, teachers, college students, preschoolers, high schoolers and gardeners joining us to dig in the dirt! Students grow food for their school and create products from the gardens to donate to local non-profits.”