Let's crawl forward, Thetford

A call to action for the revival of volunteerism and civic engagement in Thetford.

Let's crawl forward, Thetford

Small towns, even ones with Town Managers, are held together by volunteers. In our small town, we have twelve full-time employees, six part-time employees, and over 150 people who continually volunteer their time to keep the community safe, healthy, and fun. The members of these groups, boards, committees, commissions, and organizations are often motivated simply by the desire to see their community thrive.

A handful of these volunteers receive stipends each year — $1,000 goes to each Selectboard member, $500 to the Health Officer, and $4,500 to the Emergency Management Director. But relative to the number of hours that these positions require (and not counting the personal toll that occupying public positions can have), these stipends are essentially gestures of appreciation rather than compensation for the actual work required or performed.

Volunteerism and civic engagement have deep roots in New England. Since the first public school was founded in Boston in 1635 there have been groups of community members sprouting up to help run them. The first volunteer fire department was founded in Philadelphia in 1736 by Benjamin Franklin, and the first historical society was formed in Boston in 1791. Peterborough, NH, organized the first free public library in 1833. All of these institutions required community support and participation when they were founded in order to be successful — and they still do.

The notion of civic responsibility in America took off in the 1800s, especially amongst women and young people who were extremely active in a number of social reform movements. Citizens mobilized for the betterment of society on a myriad of issues: the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage rights, prison reform, child labor rights, and the alleviation of poverty among other things. For some, advocating for these changes provoked an inclination to become regularly involved in civic life. Many of the biggest and most well-known volunteer organizations that exist today — YMCA, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Rotary Club, and Lions International — were formed in the mid-late 1800s and the early 1900s after this period of radical reformations.

America went through some difficult times in the early-mid 1900s, but those times were met with next-level Helpers (as Mr. Roger’s mother famously advised him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”). During the Great Depression of the 1930s volunteers came together to form soup kitchens, where meals were free, and penny pantries, where every item cost only one cent.

A decade later during WWII, regular citizens stepped up to work as nurses aides, firefighters, and scrap collectors. Although there was food rationing during the war, more than 20 million American families took food security into their own hands by planting Victory Gardens wherever they could squeeze them in, even on the rooftops of city dwellings. These gardens not only boosted morale, but they accounted for approximately 40 percent of all the fresh produce consumed in the United States during that time.

Perhaps it was that dedication and resourcefulness that carried on into the 1950s when civic engagement was at an all-time high. At that time it was commonplace for community members to volunteer at the local school or to welcome a new family into the neighborhood with a casserole or a warm plate of brownies. More people began joining clubs, attending churches, and participating in community events than ever before.

But that level of involvement peaked in the 1960s before steadily declining into the "Me Decade" (1970s), which saw a move towards individualism, and the "Decade of Greed" (1980s), which marked the emergence of "yuppies." By the turn of the century, routine civic engagement just wasn’t a thing anymore.

In Robert Putnam’s 2000 book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, he argues that the decline in social capital, which he defines as “connections among individuals — social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them,” is responsible for the decline in civic engagement that communities were experiencing nationwide. “What is at stake is not merely warm, cuddly feelings or frissons of community pride,” he wrote, but more importantly, “our schools and neighborhoods don’t work so well when community bonds slacken … our economy, our democracy, and even our health and happiness depend on adequate stocks of social capital.”

In the two decades since then, technology upped its game and managed to saturate the veins of nearly every city and town across the globe. And while more bridges may have been built across farther distances, fewer and fewer have been maintained at close range. The internet has shifted how people interact with and relate to one another — and the social fabric of small communities has been permanently altered.

But it hasn’t been all bad. During the pandemic, the digitization of the modern world has made it possible to reimagine community events and maintain accessibility to local groups and organizations, allowing some people to engage remotely when they might otherwise not be able to engage at all. In Thetford, attendance at Selectboard meetings increased significantly after they went virtual in March last year. But now more than a year later, things have started to slow down again.

There were many groups and organizations in town that never saw an increase, though — public participation at Thetford Town School District Board of Directors meetings and in Thetford Elementary School's parent-teacher organization, TESCIA, has remained low. Overall, the groups in town have had mixed experiences: some have had a full roster with lower-than-preferred public involvement, while others have barely been able to maintain their minimum membership requirements.

The demands of civic engagement can vary greatly, from light and occasional responsibilities to far more challenging and/or frequent ones. Many people cite a lack of time as a reason why they do not participate in community organizations, although some will admit that television, social media, and all-things-internet are also strong competitors for the time that they do have.

In some places, and Thetford is no exception, the fear of public scrutiny and a precedent of unabashed irreverence has become a deterring force for many would-be active community members. The frequently disparaging and combative tone of our public discourse has quieted too many essential voices and quelled too many potential partnerships.

When the leaders in the small town of Bedford, NH, felt an overwhelming sense of civic disengagement and incivility, they turned to the New Hampshire Institute of Politics to help them understand why and to make recommendations moving forward. NHIP accepted the challenge, and what they observed was “an adult community which pays taxes to their town, provides handsomely for the material needs of their children, yet do not have a great deal of time to give and are in denial or oblivious to the consequence this has for civic and family life. They express great frustration at the consequences of this behavior, but do not understand their own culpability in the cause. The perceptions these community members have of their obligations to the political process and their children’s understanding and contribution to the political process is colored by a lifestyle which is defined by job, adult activities, and child duties. There seems to be a disconnect between themselves and an active civic or political life.”

Their advice? First, “re-engage adults and elevate civil discourse … in a comprehensive community building program.” They recommended one of two proven programs designed to do just this: Study Circles, where 8-12 participants from diverse backgrounds meet regularly with a facilitator to discuss issues and incorporate each other's perspectives into solutions; and Community Profile, a type of conversational gathering that our town participated in around the same time this recommendation was given to Bedford — and the very one that Alexis Jetter has written so fondly, if not nostalgically, about in her letter to Thetford residents, Silent Winter.

The Community Profile program was developed by the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, and inspired by the National Civic League’s similar program All-America Conversations. Both are capable of structuring community-wide conversations that are designed to cross the divide and help people find ways of working together despite their differences.

It’s been over twenty years since Bedford sought out help to try to solve the same civic engagement and civility issues that Thetford is dealing with today, and over twenty years since Thetford implemented the very tool that was recommended to them. The thing is, it’s not a one-and-done solution. Well-structured, intentionally facilitated conversations can’t just happen once and then be expected to effect meaningful, lasting relational change. The smaller conversations need to happen weekly, and the larger “conversation events” need to happen annually, at least. The Selectboard retreat doesn’t come close to accomplishing what these types of events have the potential to.

Increasing the quantity and quality of our involvement can and will change the social and political climate in our town. Committing ourselves to the world beyond our careers and our nuclear families can and will strengthen the efficacy of our efforts as a community. Connections encourage participation, and participation cultivates connections. But as the authors of the NHIP study made clear, "as effective as any idea we could put forward might be, what is necessary for success is that the citizens of Bedford embrace whatever initiatives are implemented."

The act of contributing to the wellbeing of a single person, or the wellbeing of an entire town, can have an immense impact on personal wellbeing as well: volunteering has been shown to counteract the effects of stress and anxiety, combat depression and loneliness, bolster self-confidence, increase happiness, enhance overall life satisfaction, and even extend life expectancy.

There has always been an ebb and flow to volunteerism, but history shows us that the periods of flow are often sparked by the uniting impact of struggle, strife, chaos, and calamity. When people come together to protect marginalized groups, abolish cruelty, or take a long, hard look at prejudice (in two hundred years we've managed to circle around the same issues: from slavery to systemic racism, women’s suffrage to the "Me Too" movement, child labor rights to the rights of caged immigrant children, prison reform to police violence, poverty to, well, more poverty), the collective energy and passion they create can be infectious, leading to a surge in civic engagement over the common ground of basic human rights. And too, when there is a widespread, looming threat to public safety —  such as from hunger, disease, disaster, or war — people instinctively pull together, prepared to aid and assist without discrimination.

2020 had it all — it was a spark year. Never were there more potential issues to divide us; never were there more potential causes to unite us. Rural communities might benefit from their peripheral existence in regards to the intensity of our nation's most devastating political and social events, but we don't escape their influence. We aren't free from prejudice, discrimination, or injustice. We aren't free from intolerance, illness, or the inevitable impact of global warming. We have to take on every one of these issues ourselves, albeit on our small-town scale, without hesitation, resistance, or denial.

If Thetford is to remain a viable place to put down roots, it must adopt an expectation of consistent, thoughtful, and compassionate engagement from the community. If we want our schools to be excellent, our soil, water, and air to be healthy, our roads to be drivable, our homes to be affordable, and our culture to be interesting and inviting, then we need to assume responsibility for making those things happen. As residents of the same small town, we share a set of collective goals which have been realized thus far through the unpaid contributions (time, energy, talent, money) of thousands of committed individuals, all in the spirit of volunteerism.

It’s been over fifty years since America’s last peak in civic engagement, and it’s time. As we crawl out of the shadows of isolation, let’s not crawl back to where we were before — let’s crawl forward. Eventually, we'll be standing up straight and walking, even running, but not without putting one leg after the other. National trends be damned; only we can set the standard for our town.

So let's crawl forward, Thetford.

How to Get Involved in Thetford

The following groups or organizations in Thetford are actively seeking membership and/or increased community attendance, awareness, and support.

Community Action in Thetford

From their Mission Statement: Community Action in Thetford is a group of proactive citizens striving for greater equity, inclusivity, integrity, and social and environmental justice in Thetford.

Our current goals are to support the Town Manager, Selectboard, and Community to:

  • Collaborate with our town institutions in their efforts to dismantle structural and systemic racism.
  • Achieve gender and pay equity in all town positions.
  • Enhance transparency and communication between the Selectboard, Town Manager, and residents.
  • Improve accountability on matters related to the town’s personnel policies.
  • Support restorative ecology and climate initiatives.

Diversity makes us stronger! If you are interested in participating in CAT and supporting our goals, we would love to hear from you.

When they meet: one evening a month on varying days.

Contact Community Action in Thetford for more information.

Community Nurse of Thetford

From their website: Recovering from illness or hospitalization as well as chronic illness and aging can present families with many challenges. Staying at home with the right supports in place is the goal we all hope for as these challenges arise. The Community Nurse of Thetford, Inc., serves a unique role in our community to assist those in need. Any Thetford resident is eligible, and services are confidential and free.

CNT services are funded by grants, donations and an appropriation from the Town of Thetford. Your donation will help us to continue to serve the community in the future.

The Community Nurse of Thetford has a five-member Board of Directors. Contact the Community Nurse Brian Campion for more information about services.

Make a donation here.

Joint Thetford Energy Committee

From their website: The Joint Thetford Energy Committee (JTEC) works with the Selectboard, the School Board, Town Manager, schools, residents, and businesses to help reduce energy use, save money and protect the environment.

Below is a list of our current projects and useful information:

The JTEC currently looking for more low/moderate-income people interested in obtaining window inserts through this year's WindowDressers Program. The deadline to sign up is May 31st.

When they meet: 2nd Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact the Thetford Energy Committee or Chair Mike Kiess (802-299-5864) for more information.

Thetford Academy Board of Trustees

From their website: Thetford Academy, an independent school with a public mission, is governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees.

Board members are expected to:

  • Have a strong interest in the welfare of Thetford Academy and become informed about its mission, policies, organizational structure, services, and finances.
  • Support the mission and policies of Thetford Academy in interactions with the public and the members, and contribute to the best of their abilities financially and through their expertise, time, and services.
  • Attend Board of Trustee meetings.
  • Serve on at least one Trustee Committee and develop in-depth knowledge of the areas of responsibility of that committee.

When they meet: 2nd Thursday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact TA Board President Gio Bosco or Vice President Donna Steinberg for more information.

Thetford Board of Civil Authority/Board of Abatement

From their website: The Board of Civil Authority duties include assisting in elections, maintaining the voter checklist, hearing tax appeals (when the property owner disagrees with the listers assessed value of their property). The Board of Abatement (BOA) duties include hearing taxpayer requests at a hearing for an abatement (write off) of taxes.

Community members can support the BCA by volunteering to help with elections. Justice of the Peace Bill Keegan writes: Working on election day gives one an inside view of the many details, procedures and accountability steps that are taken to ensure that elections run fairly and transparently. You get to see the nuts and bolts that make our democracy run.

When they meet: as needed.

Contact Chair Bill Keegan for more information.

Thetford Cemetary Commission

From the 2020 Town Report: The Thetford Cemetary Commissioners are in charge of ten cemeteries ... For the last few years, we have focused on tree and brush removal ... This year, we hope to focus on stone repair and fencing. We encourage volunteers or anyone who would like to join a cemetery board, especially Evergreen Rest Cemetary (behind Town Hall).

The Thetford Cemetary Commission does valuable work in maintaining the places where residents' loved ones are buried. In addition to mowing and maintaining the cemeteries regularly, they also clean, repair and restore monuments and headstones.

When they meet: as needed, at least four times per year.

Contact Sam Eaton, Michael Watson, or Richard Landry for more information.

Thetford Center Community Association

From their website: The Thetford Center Community Association (non-profit) was formed under the laws of the State of Vermont on June 18th, 1962, with a mission “to improve and beautify the village of Thetford Center and to promote the welfare of the community”. TCCA owns and maintains the Thetford Center Community Building, although for some of us it will always be “the schoolhouse” because it was the one-room school for Thetford before Thetford Elementary was built. This historic building can be rented for events and is also used to serve the community.

The TCCA facilities have been used for a variety of classes and events over the years, from senior exercise and yoga classes to arts and poetry groups. Many of Thetford's children have held their birthday parties at TCCA. They've hosted a Community Yard Sale for many years and held a fundraiser for a scholarship to give to a graduating senior at Thetford Academy. This past December they donated money to help fulfill requests for the Angel Tree, which provides gifts to families from our community who are in need.    

There are currently four community members serving on TCCA’s Board of Directors. They are always looking for community members who want to get involved with the association.

When they meet: as needed.

Contact TCCA to get involved.

Thetford Conservation Commission

From the 2020 Town Report: The Thetford Conservation Commission manages town properties, plans with town committees and state agencies for future conservation, and hosts educational and service events. We're grateful for the enthusiastic participation by many town residents at those events, and we welcome your continued support!

We encourage any Thetford resident who would like to work on these types of projects to contact us or attend our monthly meetings.

When they meet: 2nd Wednesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact Conservation Commission Chair Steve Lehman for more information.

Thetford Development Review Board

From the Town Report: The Development Review Board (DRB) is a five-member quasi-judicial board appointed by the Selectboard. The DRB conducts hearings and issues decisions on all subdivision applications, certain zoning applications and appeals from actions of the Zoning Administrator.

The Development Review Board currently has an Alternate Board Position opening.

When they meet: 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact Chair Tim Taylor for more information. Submit letters of interest to the Thetford Selectboard.

Thetford Elder Network

From their website: Thetford Elder Network (TEN) creates social links among the elders of our community as well as intergenerational links. Additionally, we offer selected services for seniors. All of our work is intended to make it easier for seniors to remain in their homes as they age. TEN activities and services include:

  • A monthly luncheon for seniors, their family members, friends and caregivers (North Thetford Church, 4th Thursday, 11:30 a.m.)
  • A monthly coffee klatch for seniors, family members, friends, and caregivers (TCCA, 2nd Wednesday, 10 a.m.)
  • A Friday walking group for regular weekly exercise (Latham Library, 10 a.m.)
  • Rides to appointments
  • Help with advanced directives and living wills
  • Help in finding town and state resources and services
  • The Senior Shelf at the Latham Library
  • The Community Nurse of Thetford

When they meet: 1st Monday at 10 a.m. via Zoom.

Contact TEN Chair Jody Biddle to get involved.

Thetford Elementary School Community in Action

Thetford Elementary School Community in Action (TESCIA) is essentially a parent-teacher organization for TES. While many people might associate them with fundraising, and they certainly do their fair share of that, it’s how they use those funds that really defines what they do: enrich the environment and build community between caregivers, staff, and students at TES. They are the people behind the school’s welcome picnic, the coffee klatch for parents on the first day of school, the annual Haunted Trail, book fairs, treats for holiday goodie bags, food for school-wide celebrations and open houses, spoiling staff and encouraging involvement during Teacher Appreciation Week, the ice cream social on Field Day, and the Teacher Luncheon on the last day of school (which is a huge event with food, flowers, and a gift card raffle). TESCIA often raises money through local businesses, like Smith Maple Farm and Red Kite Candy, and they use those funds to assist with field trips and classroom supplies and to support the 6th-grade graduation celebration — this year they also helped make the Outdoor Classrooms possible. They created the school directory for TES, organized room parents, held clothing drives, and even decorated the front of the school with lights this holiday season.

They haven’t been able to do everything that they would do in a normal year because of the pandemic — the public events they organize were largely replaced with silent support for the school — and as a result, their presence wasn’t felt in the same way. A majority of the current membership have children who are aging out or have already aged out of TES, and they anticipate all five of their officer roles being vacant by the Fall.

When they meet: 3rd Thursday at 5:45 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact TESCIA or Chair Michele Joyce to get involved.

Thetford Food Shelf

From their website and volunteer Mary Allen: The Thetford Food Shelf is a source of food including fresh produce, dairy, meat, and bread as well as personal care items for residents of Thetford, Vershire, Fairlee, West Fairlee, and Strafford. Households in these areas may use the food shelf on Tuesday or Thursday mornings from 10 am until noon. Until June, they also have Everyone Eats meals available for anyone. Everyone is welcome and there are no income restrictions. The Thetford Food Shelf is run by volunteers from the Upper Valley community. The food shelf partners with the Vermont Foodbank and Willing Hands.

The Thetford Food Shelf is always looking for substitutes for regular volunteers. Contact Mary Allen (612-719-8618) or Kippy Perkins (802-775-4168) for more information.

Thetford Historical Society

From their website:  The Thetford Historical Society was founded in 1943 by a group of local people interested in local history ... At first, the Society simply had summer meetings. By the late 1940s, the Hugheses had collected enough tools and artifacts for an exhibit in a local barn … In the late 1960s, the Society's board began working toward a library building to hold records and books collected by several members … In the past 30 years, the Society has published several books on local history, and in the past two decades additions have been made to the Barn Museum: three stalls from the Thetford Center Horsesheds, and two other buildings, one for exhibits and one for storage.

Membership in the Thetford Historical Society is open to all. Membership benefits include our newsletter, notification of upcoming programs and events, and inclusion in the Vermont Museum and Gallery Alliance Museum Admission Program.

See how the Historical Society's Education & Outreach enriches the learning of Thetford’s school children.

Contact the Thetford Historical Society for more information.

Thetford Hill Historic Preservation Committee

From their website: The Thetford Hill Historic Preservation Committee is an advisory body ready to assist property owners with issues of historic preservation within the Thetford Hill Historic District. It is intended that a majority of members be professionals from the disciplines of history, archeology, architectural history, architecture and historical architecture but members representing other historic preservation-related disciplines, such as urban planning, American studies, cultural geography or anthropology, and building trades are also encouraged as are members from the lay community at large.

The size of the Historic Preservation Committee was reduced from five to three members in 2020. While all three positions are currently filled, there is an anticipated opening next year, as well as two alternate positions, are currently vacant. They are always looking for additional participation from the community.

When they meet: as needed.

Contact member Stephen Branchflower for more information.

Thetford Home Energy Action Team

Thetford HEAT is a team of volunteers that works in collaboration with COVER Home Repair and Capstone Community Action to implement weatherization measures in income-qualifying homes. The team helped weatherize two homes in Thetford as well as the Thetford Center Community Association building. Several years ago they went door-to-door to 650 Thetford homes to inform residents about energy-saving programs that were available to them.

When they meet: as needed.

Contact Bob Walker to get involved.

Thetford Library Federation

From their website: In 1972, the libraries of the villages united to form a working “federation” composed of Latham and Peabody public libraries, the Historical Society Library, the Thetford Academy Library, and the Elementary School Library. The Federation’s two public libraries have 2,156 members.

The library could not operate without its dedicated volunteers.   Most contribute three hours every two weeks,  either working at the circulation desk — checking materials in and out of the library and assisting patrons — or behind the scenes — covering books and attaching pockets, bar codes and spine labels to books, DVDs and audiobooks. Volunteers also catalog and shelve materials and process interlibrary loan requests. All adults and high school students are welcome to volunteer.

Latham Library Board of Trustees currently has eight members, and the Peabody Library Board of Trustees currently has six members. The Chair’s report from Latham Library’s Board of Trustees February 2021 meeting states in the minutes: Due to diverse jobs needing to be covered by Board members, the report also includes a list of those jobs. We may want more Board members going forward. Some roles might also be filled by volunteers, so we need to determine how to recruit these volunteers.

When they meet: 1st Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom (Latham); every other month on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening via Zoom (Peabody).

Contact Librarian Peter Blodgett to get involved as a volunteer. Contact the Latham Library Board of Trustees or Peabody Library Board of Trustees for more information.

Thetford Planning Commission

From their website: The duties of the Planning Commission are set forth in Title 24, Section 4325 of the laws of the State of Vermont. These include preparing and amending the Town Plan, zoning bylaws, and subdivision regulations, and undertaking studies and making recommendations on matters of land development.

Note from the Chair: The Town Plan has been finalized and passed, Subdivision Regulations are scheduled for a Public Hearing with the Selectboard on May 17, the Flood Hazard Area Zoning Bylaw Public Hearing (with the Planning Commission) is set for June 1, and the revision and review of the Thetford Zoning Bylaw continues apace.

When they meet: 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 7:15 p.m. via Zoom.

The Planning Commission currently has six out of seven of their membership seats filled. Contact Chair David Forbes for more information.

Thetford Recreation Advisory Committee

From their website: The charge for the Recreation Advisory Council (shall be) to inventory, research, and promote recreation opportunities for residents and visitors of all ages.

Thetford recently welcomed Amy Fahey as the new Recreation Coordinator. The RAC currently has eight members; the need for new membership is anticipated.

When they meet: 3rd Wednesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact Chair Stacy Barton or the Thetford Recreation Department for more information.

Thetford Recylcing Center

The Thetford Recycling Center processed over 200 tons of recyclables and seven tons of food scraps this past year. The Recycling Center is a joint operation, run by both paid workers and regular volunteers.

Contact Recycling Coordinator Susanne Simon to get involved.

Thetford Selectboard

The Selectboard currently holds meetings every other Monday at 7 p.m. Attending these meetings is not only the best way to stay informed, but it’s also the best way to have a voice on Town issues that matter to you.

When they meet: every other Monday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact the Thetford Selectboard for more information.

Thetford Senior & Affordable Housing Committee

From their website: Thetford senior and affordable housing enables members of our community, of all ages, to remain in Thetford in the face of changing conditions or circumstances. We wish to allow people to stay in their homes as long as possible. Then, when they otherwise would have to leave home due to limitations of age, medical requirements, disability, lack of family support, or reduced income -- dwelling units will be available to meet their needs and will be within their means. Thetford senior and affordable housing should be integrated into the life of the community, and help balance values such as self-reliance, privacy, thrift, and access to needed services including health care. Housing supported by the Thetford community promotes a diversity of backgrounds, interests, aspirations, and income levels that represents a cross-section of Thetford.

The Senior and Affordable Housing Committee (SAHC) wants to expand our membership. The SAHC plans to focus on promoting affordable housing that supports current residents, people who wish to join our community, and those who wish to return to their hometown. Does this sound like work you want to collaborate on? The Selectboard welcomes letters of interest from individuals who are passionate about expanding housing opportunities in town, like to work as a team, and care about Thetford's future. If you have a background in real estate, planning, land use, construction or the law that's a bonus.

Feel free to reach out to committee members if you have any questions (Tim McCosker, Pippa Drew, or Sarah Martel). Letters of interest may be sent to the Thetford Selectboard.

When they meet: 1st Wednesday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.

Thetford Town School District Board of Directors

The Thetford Town School District Board of Directors, who many think of as just the TES School Board, actually serves and is responsible for all Pre-K through 12th Grade students in the Thetford district. The TTSD Board makes many decisions relevant to families, teachers, staff, and even community members. It consists of five officer positions, all of which are currently filled. Community members are encouraged to attend and participate.

When they meet: every other Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom.

Contact the Thetford Town School District Board of Directors for more information.

Thetford Volunteer Fire Department

From the 2020 Town Report: The Thetford Volunteer Department (TVFD) provides fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to the town of Thetford. The organization has matured into a strong community resource. Combining the many hours of training and maintenance of equipment and facilities, in addition to responding to emergencies each year, our volunteers donate hundreds of thousands of dollars of labor annually.

As with many volunteer organizations, we continue to have a need for additional personnel. We recognize the time commitment is extensive, but the reward of serving this community is worth it.

From their website: The Thetford Volunteer Fire Department is made up of 20 dedicated volunteers from the community.  Our volunteers range in age from 15 to 65 years of age and are committed to providing a professional service to our town. These volunteers have families, work full-time jobs, go to school, own small businesses and yet still wake up at 2 am to answer someone else's call for help.

Visit Thetford VFD’s How can you help? page to find out what you can do to help support them in their mission (you don’t have to be a firefighter or EMT).

Contact Fire Chief Chad Whitcomb or Emergency Management Director Mariah Whitcomb to get involved.

Treasure Island Exploratory Committee

From Nick Clark’s article on Treasure Island: The [TIE] Committee was charged with developing a long-range plan that balanced three primary needs: recreation, conservation, and financial sustainability. The Committee, with memo in hand, immediately got to work, pulling on past work done by the Friends of Treasure Island, as well as new research into possible grants, planning contractors, and various programs, facility improvements, and management plans. They also reached out to former staff, networked with other organizations on Lake Fairlee, and have helped arrange a sizable donation to ensure that Treasure Island will be open for the 2021 summer season despite unexpected changing to staffing within the Recreation Department.

When they meet: 1st and 3rd Thursdays at 6 p.m. via Zoom.

The TIE Committee currently has seven members and two vacancies. Contact Chair David Roth to get involved.

Tri-Town Commission

The Tri-Town Commission was created in 2012 by the Selectboards of Fairlee, Thetford, and West Fairlee, to respond to the deteriorating condition of the Lake Fairlee dam, which was rebuilt in 2016. The Tri-Town Commission receives funds from the three participating towns to maintain the dam, but commissioners do not get any stipend.

From the Tri-Town Commission Interlocal Agreement: Purpose: To delineate the operating accountability of the participating towns, Thetford, Fairlee and West Fairlee, after acquiring the property interests necessary for the operation of the dam on Lake Fairlee, for the operation and maintenance of the dam, and any necessary rehabilitation, and to assure the safety and security of the citizens who would be negatively impacted, financially or otherwise, by a failure of the dam. Supervision of the dam shall be vested in a governing body, the Tri-Town Commission, initially composed of nine members, three appointed by each of the selectboard of the participating towns.

From the 2020 Town Report: The Commission continues to struggle with reaching a quorum at meetings and we continue to feel that reducing the number of members per Town on the Tri-Town Commission would be advisable.

When they meet: as needed.

Contact Thetford Representative Li Shen for more information.

Valley Quest Monitors

From their website: It takes a great deal of manpower to ensure that each of our 160+ Quests is kept up to date with a fully-stocked treasure box at the end. As a result, we rely on volunteers like you to be our eyes and ears in the field. We do our best to link each Valley Quest with a Monitor. A Quest Monitor is a volunteer who “adopts” a Quest, tending to the Quest box and keeping its materials fresh. We have many amazing Quest Monitors who have helped make this wonderful program what it is today. But we still have many Quests yearning to be tended!

We encourage Quest Monitors to take ownership of their Quests, and many do just that. Traditionally, box monitors [have] personalized their Quest boxes by making their own sign-in books, carving their own unique stamp for the Quest box, or adding supplementary materials telling about the history pertaining to the area around the Quest. To go above and beyond, you can brainstorm ways to improve your Quests in their adventurousness or learning value.

Thetford is home to nineteen quests which are tended to by Quest Monitors. While they currently have Monitors for all of the quests in Thetford, it wouldn't hurt to give them your name if you're interested in becoming a Monitor (if you're dying to do it, they probably have Quests in neighboring towns without Monitors).

Every year, Valley Quest organizes a Super Quest, challenging questers to "collect stamps impressions from a select number of featured Quests." This year, the Cedar Circle Farm Quest made it into the Super Quest challenge.

From their website: This year’s Super Quest challenge examines the ways climate change is affecting the Upper Valley—from plants, insects, and other animals moving here from the south due to warming temperatures; to more frequent and more powerful storms; to people migrating from other places experiencing even greater climate-induced changes. The Super Quest also looks at ways we’re preventing or adapting to climate change, including flood control through land preservation; green energy technologies; and regenerative agricultural practices.

To learn more about the quests in Thetford, read Nick Clark's article about the opening of Valley Quest season, and see our complete list of quests (and trails) in Thetford.

Contact Valley Quest for more information.

If you are a part of a group or organization in Thetford that is not listed above and you would like it to be, please contact Laura Covalla.

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