Former firefighter and ‘agroforestry’ student named UVM Truman Scholar

Mariah Choiniere photo by Bailey Beltramo

Mariah Choiniere of Franklin is among a select group of student leaders nationwide to become 2022 Truman Scholars.

Choiniere is one of 58 Truman Scholars selected from 705 candidates nominated by 275 colleges and universities. Truman Scholars demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to a career in government or the nonprofit sector, and academic excellence. Each Truman Scholar receives funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. 

“Mariah’s many journeys—personal, educational, and professional—have helped shape her passion for sustainability and her commitment to forestry and agriculture” said Honors College Dean David Jenemann, who helped endorse Choiniere’s internal nomination with the UVM Harry S. Truman Scholarship Nomination Committee.

Choiniere ’23, a Forestry major in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, took an unconventional path to college—before transferring to UVM from Vermont Technical College. In fact, by the time Choiniere arrived at the University of Vermont in the fall of 2020, she already had seven years of work experience—including three years of hands-on knowledge in forest management and firefighting—and more than 1,500 hours of work through AmeriCorps/Conservation Corps.

“It is an enormous honor to be named a 2022 Truman Scholar,” Choiniere said. “This award will allow me to advance my studies, progress the field of temperate agroforestry, and support my goal to continue with the federal government.”

Choiniere added: “When I received a call from President Garimella notifying me of my selection, I was in total disbelief. It wouldn’t have been possible without the support from the UVM FOUR Office, mentors within the Forestry Department, friends, and family. I’m excited to meet the other scholars this summer during the Truman Scholars Leadership Week.” 

At UVM, Choiniere’s impact is palpable:

  • Helped build UVM’s chapter of the Society of American Foresters to 200 members; where she serves as treasurer, managing its finances, and organizing speakers and networking events. She has been elected to serve as president.
  • Coordinated a USA Jobs workshop to help peers navigate a convoluted federal hiring system and gain meaningful employment.
  • Became a member of Femmes in Forestry, which advocates for femme and non-binary individuals pursuing degrees and careers in natural resources management.
  • Selected to serve on Rubenstein’s Student Advisory Board, working with the dean on curriculum, teaching, advising and social issues.
  • Received a coveted position in the UVM-CREAM (Cooperative for Real Education in Agricultural Management) program, where she will help manage UVM farm operations and the campus cow herd.
  • Became a Lake Champlain Sea Grant Scholar.
  • Will be inducted this spring into Xi Sigma Pi’s UVM Alpha Omicron chapter, a forestry honor society. 

And Choiniere’s impact is also felt beyond the UVM campus. Last summer, she worked as a Soil Conservationist Pathways intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in St. Albans.

“In this role, she brought all her past experiences, starting with her love of rural agriculture and marrying it to her understanding of forestry practices in order to help farmers and forest landowners to conserve valuable resources and create more effective, sustainable management operations,” Jenemann wrote in the UVM endorsement letter. 

In graduate school, Choiniere intends to pursue Agroforestry—which, according to the USDA—is the intentional integration of trees and shrubs into crop and animal farming systems to create environmental, economic, and social benefits. Some of the practices include planting crops between rows of trees to provide income while the trees mature; growing food, herbal, botanical or decorative crops under a forest canopy; and combining trees with livestock and their forages on one piece of land. 

“I believe that Agroforestry will be an important pathway in tackling the climate crisis, while also balancing food security in the face of a growing population,” said Choiniere. 

“With her vast work experience, her strong academic record, and a wisdom about long journeys, Mariah is the kind of leader that rural America needs to help navigate changing landscapes of policy and practice,” Jenemann concluded.

Established by Congress in 1975 as the living memorial to President Harry S. Truman and presidential monument to public service, the Truman Scholarship carries the legacy of the country’s 33rd president by supporting and inspiring the next generation of public service leaders. When approached by a bipartisan group of admirers near the end of his life, President Truman embodied this commitment to the future of public service by asking Congress to create a living memorial devoted to this purpose, rather than a traditional brick-and-mortar monument. For 45 years, the Truman Foundation has fulfilled that mission: inspiring and supporting Americans from diverse backgrounds to serve.   

4 replies »

  1. Mariah Choiniere is a magnificent example of a person dedicated to actively improving our environment. No one to just “talk the talk’, she most certainly proceeds to make a difference and “walk the walk”. Her record of accomplishments, as a youth and adult, speak mountains to be emulated by others for the good of our State of Vermont. Congratulations, Mariah Choiniere!

    • Kathleen you have no clue what you are talking about here. The Truman Schoiar Program is a NATIONAL program. You didn’t read the article, Kathleen,you just hit the comments section to trash UVM. BAD BAD. Lighten up Kath….

    • Kathleen. you have no idea of what you are talking about. You made no effort to read the article. This is a national award and the recipient made outstanding efforts over a period of years to be considered. What is “shameful and disgusting” is yourself for expressing something completely in error without the least bit of effort to investigate the circumstances. Evidentially your “hatred” for UVM is so deep that common sense and your opinion should be completely disregarded!

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