Dr. Douglas O. Lantagne is the Dean and Director of Extension at the University of Vermont. He has been a member the Vermont Foodbank Board of Trustees for two years. Lantagne succeeds Andy Willette, District Manager at Hannaford Bros. Co. Willette steps down from the board after 4 years as chair and 6 years as a board member.
Dr. Lantagne has an undergraduate degree in Forest Management from the University of Vermont and both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees related to Forest Soils from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He was an Extension Specialist in the Department of Forestry at Michigan State University for 14 years.
For the past fifteen years, Lantagne has held several positions at the University of Vermont, including Extension Northwest Regional Chair, Associate Director of Extension, Interim Extension Director, UVM Extension Director and then Dean and Director in 2007. He was also named the Director of the UVM Transdisciplinary Teaching, Research and Outreach Initiative for Food Systems in 2012. He has chaired the New England Extension Director’s association, the Northeast Association of Extension Directors, the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development’s Board of Directors, completed a four-year term as a member of national Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) and was re-elected to four-year term in 2009, during which he served as ECOP Chair. Dr. Lantagne is a fellow from the first class of the Food System Leadership Institute (FSLI).
Doug Lantagne recently spoke with Christine Foster, chief development officer at the Vermont Foodbank, reflecting on his recent election as chair the Vermont Foodbank board.
CF: Would you share some of your background or professional information?
DL: I grew up in Newport and earned my undergraduate degree from UVM in Forestry, then received my Master’s and PhD from Virginia Tech. My entire career has been with the cooperative extension system, which provides education and knowledge sharing around 4-H, youth development, food and nutrition, and community development. We now live in Fairfax after returning to Vermont from Michigan about 15 years ago with our family. I am currently the Dean and Director of UVM Extension.
CF: What is your perspective on the role the Vermont Foodbank plays in Vermont communities?
DL: We have consistently supported local food banks wherever we’ve lived. I believe that children and individuals have done nothing wrong when they find themselves needing food assistance. People don’t choose to be hungry. Through the Foodbank’s “hub and spoke” relationship with the statewide system of network partners, they provide much-needed food to people who need a helping hand.
CF: Can you reflect on your new leadership role?
DL: I was honored when asked if I would consider being board chair. I’m very proud of the work we do and fully support our mission. The board is helping to move the Foodbank forward to best respond to the needs of Vermonters today and tomorrow. It is an honor to be serving with the other board members—they are all dedicated to the mission and have guided the Foodbank’s growth over the years.
CF: What is Vermont’s biggest food related challenge and how does the Vermont Foodbank fit into the solution?
DL: The economy. There are studies that relate health to having a job. When you have a job, you have more money for food, and when you eat you feel healthier. With this strength, someone can start thinking of their future, their plans, their family. When jobs are lost, there are more people in need of assistance. I don’t know what the future will bring or how quickly the economy will recover, but I do believe it will take some time. Until a better economy emerges, the Foodbank must rely on the people of our state to support our organization and the work we do to provide food, education and training opportunities, 3SquaresVT outreach, and advocacy on behalf of those we serve.
Thank you for your time and service, Doug!
To see a complete list of Vermont Foodbank staff and board members, please visit our website.