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 is part of the Visitor Center weekend 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

cara d Cara Davenport (Apprentice)

Cara Davenport grew up in rural southern New Jersey and graduated from Houghton College; since then she has done seasonal work incorporating the threads of conservation, community, and outdoor work in assignments throughout the New England region. Her jobs have included farming, community gardening, working at an Audubon nature center, teaching environmental lessons & programs, and constructing/maintaining trails with the Student Conservation Association and Appalachian Mountain Club.

Cara is excited to participate in Merck's work and mission this year as an apprentice, continuing to pursue these threads of conservation and community as she grows her own skills and knowledge of farming and forestry. She is particularly interested in learning more about forestry and land management, and is looking forward to spending time exploring and improving the trails in Merck Forest. 

Email Cara at

Kim Davis Kim Davis (Visitor Center)

Originally from western Massachusetts, Kim Davis is a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Albertus Magnus College with degrees in Finance and Business Management. After twenty-five years in the Natural/Specialty Food and Confectionary industry in Connecticut, Kim moved to West Rupert in 2016 and joined the staff at a local insurance agency. Eager to be engaged in the community, current events and lifelong learning, Kim volunteers at Rupert's Kittay Public Library and is a member of the library's reading group.

Email kim at

Dylan Durkee Dylan Durkee (Farm Manager)

Dylan has come to Merck from nearby Washington County, New York, where he grew up on "Durkacres," his family's dairy farm. As a farm kid, Dylan learned all aspects of farm management, animal husbandry and crop care, then expanded his areas of expertise with a stint working for an electrical & general contractor after high school. Returning to the farm a year and a half later, Dylan drew down on the knowledge of generations of his family's farmers, assisting in the sustainable expansion of the farm's operations with the construction of new calf and heifer facilities and a new maintenance barn, and the operation his own sawmill and kiln.

Dylan's passion is to raise healthy livestock and to manage the land in a sustainable manner, and he is excited to join Merck's staff in their mission to educate the community.  

Email Dylan at

Sarah Elliott Sarah Elliott (Visitor Center)

Sarah Elliott joins Katie, Darla and Kim 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

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, 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

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 she 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 is thrilled to become part of the Merck Forest family.

Email Marybeth at

eco Emily O'Connor (Apprentice)

Emily O'Connor spent her childhood running between school and soccer practice outside Cleveland, Ohio, surrounded by a big, loud family. She attended The Ohio State University until taking a gap year (currently in its third iteration), and has subsequently been on the move in search of fresh air and challenges, which have included assignments on farms around the world and (most recently) in as a net maker and salmon seiner in Homer, Alaska's, commercial fishing industry. Emily is excited to call the Taconics her new home and looks forward to adding to and sharing her collection of practical outdoor, forest and farm skills.

Email Emily 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.  

Email Rob 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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