Vicki Strong ’76 has been a member of the House of Representatives in Vermont for seven years, representing the Orleans-Caledonia district. She graciously talked to Sterling in between Legislature meetings at the State House in Montpelier to talk about appreciation for the forests around her, Expedition memories, and serving her community.
I’m a Grassroots alumna; I was an Aggie. Sterling continually got me out of my comfort zones, in sometimes adverse conditions. It just put in me a strong desire to rise up to challenges. When something seems to me beyond my capability, I now have the ability to say “How can I rise to this challenge?”
You know, I was in a dorm with Bob and Margie Ramsdell … they were my dorm parents. They became dear to my heart. Bob was a very quiet man with a unique sense of humor. I also really enjoyed taking classes from Steve Wright and Dave Brown. I loved my class on tree identification—it gave me this huge sense of joy and appreciation for the forests around me! Even now, I can identify trees based on their buds.
Expedition was hard, though. There was one part in the whole Expedition [where] we were divided into groups—I was thrown in the front of our group. I was supposedly leading our group up the ridgeline, and I had no idea where we were going. I was faking it! But we just kept trudging and we got to where we were going, but I just had a feeling of, “What was I doing?” I was clueless. I was cold, I was miserable, I didn’t sleep, my sleeping bag was way too thin—I was so glad when we got home.
I’ve been a legislator for seven years, and I became a legislator because of the wind turbines that went up on the ridgeline that I hiked during Expedition. I was so upset to see the wind towers being built on the Lowell ridgeline, and it helped propel me into serving my community. I want to be a strong voice for my community, and Sterling inspired this, because Sterling taught me it’s OK to be out of my comfort zone to stand up for what’s right.