Merck Forest and Farm Center Farm Management Rupert Vermont
Teaching and demonstrating the benefits of innovative, sustainable management of forest and farmland

Merck Forest & Farmland Staff


Darla J Belevich Darla J. Belevich (Visitor Center Staff)

Darla Belevich is a long-time member of MFFC and last year become part of the Visitor Center staff.  You will recognize Darla by her enthusiastic welcome of hikers and campers to the Visitor Center and her animated stories of growing up on her family’s dairy farm in central New York State.

Darla brings to Merck Forest forty years’ experience as professor, coach and Athletic Director at the State University of New York/Adirondack.  She was instrumental in the development of the College’s Adventure Sports Program, and started ACC ROCX, the outdoor-adventure club.  She is a New York State Licensed Guide in Hiking, Camping and Tier II Rock-climbing.  Darla taught rock-climbing, hiking, first aid, and physical education to generations of college students, and she has introduced hundreds of those students to the joys of the outdoors in trips to Merck Forest, the Adirondack High Peaks, West Virginia’s New River Gorge and the Grand Canyon, among other destinations.  She writes, “I love Merck Forest and am so thankful that George Merck and his family had such a beautiful vision – for this place, and for the generations to come!” 

Email Darla at

Katie Connor Katie Connor (Assistant Manager, Visitor Center)

Katie grew up on a 95-cow dairy farm in Fort Ann, New York. She is the 2nd oldest of five kids and loved being homeschooled all the way through high-school. She has always enjoyed the outdoors and working with animals. On the farm she did anything from milking, delivering calves, herd health, driving tractors and any other heavy farm equipment. She also worked on a pig farm, where she delivered over a hundred piglets, managed the care of the all the pigs and did some of the field work.

In the Fall of 2011 and 2012, Katie got to experience working at her Aunt and Uncle's apple orchard in Middlebury, Vermont. She loved learning about all the different varieties of apples and working with the customers. Some of Katie's hobbies include: reading, riding horses, hunting, walking, playing guitar and singing with her siblings in her Uncle's bluegrass band. She also enjoys hanging out with her family and friends.

In 2013, Katie went to Cosmetology school to get her hairdressing license. She hopes to someday open up an organic salon with her mom, who is also a hairdresser, and have a little farm on the side. Katie is looking forward to building her knowledge of farming by working at Merck.

Email Katie at

Ethan Crumley Ethan Crumley (Forester)

Growing up in nearby Granville, New York, Ethan enjoyed visiting Merck and romping around the forest as a small child. Merck played a key role in inspiring Ethan's curiosity for the natural world and a love for the outdoors. In 2011, Ethan completed an A.A.S. Degree in Forest Technology from the SUNY- ESF Ranger School in the Northwestern Adirondacks. Two years later he completed a degree in Forest Resource Management at SUNY- ESF in Syracuse, N.Y. He has worked as a Summer Forester with Finch Forest Management in the Adirondacks. Most recently he has worked for Cersosimo Lumber Company in Brattleboro, Vt. as a Log Scaler, measuring and grading logs.

Ethan is excited to be back in the area and to take on the variety of forest management challenges that Merck offers. He hopes to continue to sharpen his own skills while inspiring the next generation of forest managers and stewards.

Email Ethan at

Sarah Elliott Sarah Elliott (Visitor Center)

Sarah Elliott joins Katie and Darla in the Visitor Center. Her earliest involvement in appreciating natural communities began as a small child as she built houses for caterpillars out of rocks, twigs and leaves, and rode happily on her father’s shoulders on bird-watching expeditions. Sarah’s lifelong passion for nature led to sharing her interests with children at Farm & Wilderness Camp in Plymouth, Vermont, and she has subsequently supported environmental education in various professional and volunteer capacities. She is currently working on a series of books for children about Climate Change.

Email Sarah at

Kat Graden Kat Graden (Apprentice)

Kat Graden grew up in Chicago, but was introduced to a variety of outdoor experiences at a young age. She hiked, camped, caved, rock-climbed, shot white-water rapids and learned to care for farm animals, developing a love of the outdoors, a love for working with animals, and respect for the land. Working at a local health food store as a high school student, Kat was introduced to issues in farming and sustainable resource management, and subsequently sought out opportunities for farm/work/exchanges, environmental programs and outdoor exploration everywhere, travelling as far afield as New Zealand, Australia, and southern Italy. She completed her undergraduate degree in 2016. Kat enjoys kayaking, cooking, meeting new friends and sleeping out under the stars. She hopes someday to have a small family farm of her own and to educate people who wish to return to the land and to be self-sufficient.

Email Kat at

Chris Hubbard Chris Hubbard (Education Director)

Growing up in Salem, New York, Christine Ferris-Hubbard had Merck Forest in her backyard. Her early memories of Merck include hiking up the backside to settle into lean-tos for camping and roasting marshmallows with the Girl Scouts and climbing into the hollow tree.

Chris graduated from Green Mountain College with a BS in Elementary Education, and from the College of St. Joseph with a Masters in Literacy Arts. She has spent a number of years working with children, both in and out of the classroom. She is fascinated by science, and completed a 3-year science and technology resource program, and was involved in a teacher leadership program focusing on science in the classroom.

A traditional folk artist with over 25 years' experience in chair caning, Chris has given demonstrations at Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks through the New York State Council of the Arts, and has lead classes for their Intergenerational Grands camps. She has taught a variety of seat weaving classes, and is on the staff of the Adirondack Folk School in Lake Luzerne, NY. She especially enjoys weaving with locally gathered birch bark. Chris and her husband have a small farm with a growing flock of sheep, two alpacas, a flock of chickens, 3 cats, and their Border collie, Maisie. They enjoy visiting Maine, sea kayaking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Chris is excited to join the staff at MFFC, and is looking forward to working with students in the sciences, helping them learn about the world around them.

Email Chris at

Jonathon Kilpatrick Jonathan Kilpatrick (Farm Manager)

Jonathan comes to Merck from nearby Washington County, New York. He caught the farming bug at an early age when his family moved to New York. He raised various species of livestock in his younger years and worked on the family's mixed vegetable farm. After spending a summer managing the farm for his brother, Jonathan realized that farming and clean food were something that he was passionate about, and he wanted to see it perpetuated in his generation and those to come. He interned and subsequently apprenticed at Polyface Farms with the Salatin family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He was also able to intern at Cobb Creek Farm in Texas, furthering his education in grazing and pastured poultry production.

Jonathan is passionate about connecting farmers and consumers, holistic management, building soil through proper grazing management, sustainable forestry, and seeing new farm enterprises start and succeed. Jonathan especially enjoys educating and seeing others learn and grow in their farming skills and knowledge.

When not busy farming, Jonathan can often be found enjoying God's creation -- hunting, fishing, or playing a mean game of volleyball. He also cherishes any time he gets to play the piano or read.

Email Jonathan at

kathryn Kathryn Lawrence (Assistant Director)

Kathryn joined the Merck Forest staff in October of 2010 as office coordinator and bookkeeper. Her professional experience includes book keeping for a local motel, a local contractor and most recently as office and finance manager for Riley Rink at Hunter Park, for six years. She has three married children, whom she home-schooled while partnering with her husband Rick in the operation and management of a 90-cow dairy farm. Her farm responsibilities included farm bookkeeping, calf management, milking and driving tractors in whatever capacity needed. She has a love for farming and the outdoors, which attracted her to the opportunity at Merck Forest.

Kathryn grew up in Arlington, has lived in numerous places in Vermont and Pennsylvania but chooses to call the beautiful Mettowee Valley home. She and Rick live in Pawlet and have transferred their love for farming to a small farm with perennial gardens, a vegetable garden and five horses. Their children and grandchildren come to Vermont to play as often as is possible.

Email Kathryn at

mb Marybeth Leu (Communications Coordinator)

Marybeth joined the MFFC staff in the autumn of 2015. Her background includes an undergraduate degree in English from Northeastern University, and Certificates in Landscape Design and Landscape Management from Harvard University's Radcliffe Seminars program and the University of Massachusetts' Green School. Her professional experience includes nearly two decades in the Hospital Information Systems industry and over a decade as a landscape designer in the Boston, Massachusetts, area, where whe was principal in Boston Garden Gems, a design/build firm specializing in the urban landscape.

She loves scuba-diving, woodworking, puttering in the garden, and she is thrilled to become part of the Merck Forest family.

Email Marybeth at

heather Heather Richardson (Apprentice)

Heather Richardson was born and raised in Southern New Hampshire, an active, outdoorsy child. As a student at Syracuse University majoring in geography and food studies, Heather became interested in ecosystem restoration, sustainable agriculture, and in technologies designed to offset the effects of global warming. Her interests developed into passions during an internship on a polyculture farm in Panama: participating in projects ranging from building chicken tractors to propagating a food forest, Heather learned a lot and returned to the US with an ambition to apply those skills to farms here. In the summer and fall of 2016, Heather realized a lifelong dream, through-hiking the Appalachian Trail; upon completion of that project, she decided to pursue her passions through the Merck Forest and Farmland apprenticeship, where she will continue her involvement in the sustainable agriculture movement as educator, policy-maker and/or farmer.  

Email Heather at 


Rob Terry Rob Terry (Executive Director)

An educator by training, Rob holds an MEd from New England College and has spent much of his career teaching in the field as well as the classroom. Rob has taught with a number of experiential outdoor programs, including St. Albans Schools’ Voyageur program, Dartmouth College’s Outing Club, and the American Canoe Association. Prior to coming to Merck Forest, Rob was the Vice President of National Program at the Student Conservation Association. In this role, he supported parks and refuges around the US, learning valuable lessons about managing our nation’s treasured natural resources along the way. Rob came to his work at the SCA from a position leading public school reform initiatives in major urban districts. That work affirmed Rob’s desire to help organizations, and the conservation movement in general, realign principles and practices to be more inclusive of, and ultimately relevant to, developing conservationists from all backgrounds. Through his work at Merck, Rob hopes to facilitate the kind of deep connections with the natural landscape that lay the groundwork for stewardship and inspire action while encouraging personal growth and reflection.  

Karl Karl Uy (Apprentice)

Since coming to the United States from the Philippines in 2005, Karl Uy has prepared himself for a life in music, writing and environmental sciences. He has had a deep love of nature since childhood and has dedicated himself to promoting ecological responsibility and opposing social and environmental injustice. A 2016 graduate of Colgate University (major: environmental biology), Karl has worked in research on forestry and climate change, and is now eager to start next chapter as a Merck apprentice. Among other things, he is a lover of dogs, mangoes, Game of Thrones, Broadway musicals, hiking, and the Icelandic post-rock band, Sigur Ros. Karl feels that he is incredibly blessed and excited to be living, working and learning at Merck, and to be a part of the community in this lovely corner of Vermont.  

Email Karl at 

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We are not part of any government agency. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent
allowed by law and are greatly appreciated!

Banner photo courtesy of Dan Sullivan
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