Skip to Main Content

Regional Alumni Groups

Across the country and around the globe, VLGS alumni make a difference wherever they are. We invite you to connect with fellow Swans in key regions. Learn more by clicking on a location below.

Alumni Highlights

Megan Cousino

Megan Cousino

After graduating from Middlebury College in 2016 with an environmental studies and geography degree, Megan Cousino MELP'20 launched her career at the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VT DEC). She quickly learned that she had a passion for conserving and protecting the natural resources in her home state, all while learning more about Vermont's legal systems and enforcement mechanisms.

While working full time at VT DEC, Megan entered the MELP program at VLS in 2018. She completed her degree with distinction in October 2020.

In October 2021, Megan became the environmental program manager of the Environmental Assistance Office (EAO) in VT DEC. Her team initially consisted of four staff members. The program underwent a complete revisioning under her direction. Over the next year and a half, she built the current iteration of EAO, which now has 10 staff members, three new sections, and two American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) initiatives.

Megan is especially excited to have played a role in developing the Accessible Assistance Section, which focuses on working with overburdened and underserved individuals or communities as they navigate Vermont's environmental regulatory system.  The section is currently distributing over $40 million to hundreds of low-income Vermont homeowners with failed or inadequate on-site drinking water or wastewater systems, as well as to dozens of manufactured housing communities with water infrastructure issues.

In 2023, Megan also became the DEC Environmental Justice Coordinator, where she serves as the lead on the department's environmental justice initiatives.

Her studies at VLS, now VLGS, are put to use on a daily basis—and will continue to be—as she oversees EAO and coordinates DEC's role in the implementation of Vermont's Environmental Justice Law (Act 154). Megan is proud to be involved in a field that drives better outcomes for all Vermonters, and especially those in need.

This feature was originally published in the August 2023 edition of the VLGSAA Master's Only Committee newsletter. Photo courtesy of Megan Cousino.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023 3:30:00 PM

Gordon Merrick

Gordon Merrick

Gordon N. Merrick JD’20 currently serves as Policy & Programs Manager for the nonprofit Organic Farming Research Foundation, an organization focused on advancing organic agriculture through scientific research.

Gordon Merrick has some unconventional advice for students looking to pursue a career in food and agriculture law and policy: gain experience in a field you don’t want to work in.

The Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) alumnus currently serves as Policy & Programs Manager at the Organic Farming Research Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on advancing organic agriculture through scientific research. But it was a summer internship working in trial law during his time at VLGS that helped round out his qualifications.

“[That internship] exposed me to things that make me a better advocate,” explained Merrick. “So, put simply: don’t be afraid to take unorthodox opportunities.”

Merrick is no stranger to unusual career paths; before pursuing his JD, he held a variety of jobs from farmhand and line cook to food hub delivery driver and political organizer. Through experiences in many lifecycle stages of food, his perspective on the food system widened.

Merrick suggests that upcoming graduates should also not limit themselves to experiences they think will lend themselves specifically to agricultural law jobs, which can often be competitive. Instead, he advised, find a variety of skills that can round out your point of view: something that was a particular draw for Merrick, leading him to decide to pursue his higher education in South Royalton.

“Vermont Law and Graduate School is just one of those places that clearly thinks about things differently, and that attracted me to the place,” said Merrick. “The ability to have multiple hands-on experiences doing legal work while also being exposed to thoughtful and robust classes seemed like a no-brainer when compared to other programs.”

He credits his work at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS) with helping him augment his writing and legal research skills, while building a working knowledge of food and agriculture law and policy that would make him a competitive job candidate.

And competitive he was: despite graduating amidst the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Merrick quickly found a fellowship with CAFS and the Conservation Law Foundation’s Legal Food Hub, while also taking an advocate role in Vermont’s Climate Plan. Before joining the team at the Organic Farming Research Foundation in April 2022, Merrick clerked for the Vermont General Assembly Legislative Counsel office, focusing on natural resources, agriculture, and municipal law.

Today, Merrick’s work centers around supporting organic farmers through research and policy support. “My interest is in how the current business model and economics of agriculture don’t serve farmers or the landscape, and how legal frameworks and public programs can change that,” said Merrick.

According to Merrick, one solution proposed by many is “payment for ecosystem services,” a concept that would provide financial compensation for the qualitative benefits of sustainable agriculture, such as clean air, pollination, aesthetic enjoyment, and more. Merrick was able to build upon research on this topic, conducted during his fellowship with CAFS, in his current position.

Merrick credits his life experience with leading him to agricultural law and Vermont Law and Graduate School for fostering the environment to build his future career. “There are few times in a person’s life where your only real responsibility is to learn, build connections and friendships, all with a purpose.”

“I just loved the whole experience of being back in school,” Merrick concluded. “I was grappling with difficult concepts and subjects in a community of gifted, passionate people.”

This feature was originally published on the VLGS Blog. Photo courtesy of Gordon Merrick.

Friday, February 24, 2023 12:00:00 PM

Lauren Wustenberg

Lauren Wustenberg

The light of the autumn morning streamed in through the windows of Barrister’s Book Shop, illuminating a smattering of tables and chairs set up amongst the shelves. Inside, Lauren Wustenberg JD/MFALP’21, a Food & Agriculture Law Society (FALS) Board member, was working hard to serve community members at the FALS “Barrister’s Brunch.”

It was the fall of 2019, and Wustenberg and her cohort had worked hard to source ingredients for the meal from local farmers, harvest kale from the community garden, and cook the fundraiser brunch, the proceeds from which would support the South Royalton Community Garden.

“We had no idea, at the time, that it would be our last full semester on campus before we graduated,” said Wustenberg, referencing the Covid-19 pandemic that shut down the Vermont Law and Graduate School (VLGS) campus in the spring of 2020. “I spent three wonderful years serving on the FALS Executive Board, and it was such a fun process to work with my fellow FALS members to feed our friends, faculty, and community members.”

Graduating from the program in 2021, Wustenberg’s experience at VLGS was shaped by the pandemic—but she is living proof that sometimes, when things don’t go to plan, other opportunities present themselves.

The pandemic delayed Wustenberg’s plans to do an externship in the summer of 2020, leading her to instead earn her final MFALP credits as Legal Fellow with the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry in the fall of 2021, after she had graduated from the JD program and completed the bar exam. Today, she works as one of the Committee’s full-time counsels under Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

Most recently, Wustenberg was tasked to work as counsel on Title II (Agriculture) of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a major piece of legislation in which the role of food and farming on both the economy and the climate is addressed.

Her current work on policy issues related to conservation, climate, environmental regulation, pesticides, and more has been greatly informed by her studies with VLGS. At the end of the day, Wustenberg’s work is driven forward by two overarching questions: how do we improve the economic and environmental sustainability of American agriculture livelihoods, and how do we address the global impacts of Americans’ consumer appetites?

“Having a joint-degree from VLGS helped me specialize within the legal field and develop early expertise in niche issues that made me more qualified and more competitive as a candidate,” Wustenberg explained. “My time with the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and the Food and Agriculture Clinic gave me the legal and policy analysis tools I need to dive more deeply into answering complicated questions that require multifaceted answers.”

One of the biggest draws of VLGS, for Wustenberg, was the top-quality staff and faculty—not only to learn from, but to help build a network of changemakers in the food and agriculture policy space.

“VLGS attracts a vibrant community of scholars, advocates, and legal practitioners that work within niche fields of environmental, land use, social justice, and food and agriculture law that serve as your professors, mentors, and fellow students,” she said. “It was honestly shocking to realize how quickly my professors at VLGS turned into close collaborators in the professional field.”

While Wustenberg credits these relationships with helping to make her more effective early in her career, it’s not the only advice she has for upcoming and recent graduates.

“There is interest across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in addressing sustainability and equity issues in our agricultural system, and we need attorneys and policy professionals to help do that work,” she stated. “My best advice is to cultivate not only specialized expertise, but also curiosity, adaptability, resourcefulness, and a strong work ethic. The world needs more people like that as we navigate the complicated problems that face us ahead.”

This feature was originally published on the VLGS Blog. Photo courtesy of Lauren Wustenberg.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022 12:00:00 PM

Cindy Argentine

Cindy Argentine Headshot

“It has been quite some time since I worked in the legal field, but I don’t think you ever lose what you learn,” noted Cindy Argentine MSL’91. Now a creative nonfiction author for children and teens, Cindy draws upon many of the skills she learned as a student at Vermont Law School.

As a child, she never dreamed of attending law school, but her passions and life experiences guided her to VLS. Cindy grew up close to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia—a place where she could explore her surroundings while experiencing changing tides and seasons. It was here that she developed a deep appreciation for nature.

When the time arrived to attend college, Cindy chose William & Mary, where she combined her interests via a double major in English and environmental science. She then landed a job with the Chesapeake Research Consortium (CRC), an environmental nonprofit. While working at CRC, Cindy realized the extent to which outcomes were driven by the legal framework.

“Law can be a great mechanism for bringing about positive change, especially in the environmental field, and that intrigued me,” Cindy shared. She discovered VLS while researching environmentally focused institutions, and she and her now husband, Mark, moved to New England where they could both pursue graduate degrees.

Although it was a new part of the country, Cindy quickly settled into life in Vermont, immersing herself in the coursework and establishing new hobbies like cross country skiing. Beginning with her initial class in environmental law, which was taught by Professor David Firestone, Cindy thoroughly enjoyed her VLS experience, and she developed a fondness for legal writing.

“I loved the process of legal writing—researching a detailed case, working through the logic, and finding points to best support the argument,” Cindy recalled. During her stint as a student, she also authored the “Vermont Act 250 Handbook: A Guide to State and Regional Land Use Regulation,” which has served as a valuable tool for individuals looking to better understand the state’s innovative land use law.

After earning her MSL, Cindy went on to work in environmental consulting, providing regulatory advice and helping companies with compliance issues. She decided to shift gears, however, once her three children were born, and her creative instincts led her to writing.

Cindy began her children’s writing career by working for magazines, and she has published articles on a variety of STEAM-related topics for kids from ages four to 18. This work led to an interest in books, and in 2019, she published “STEAM Jobs in Cybersecurity,” which explains the importance of cybersecurity to kids in grades four through eight.

Her latest book, “Night Becomes Day: Changes in Nature,” was released on October 5, 2021. Hoping to create wonder and appreciation for the environment, Cindy invites readers to explore the extraordinary power of nature through vibrant language and stunning, full-page photographs. Aimed at children in pre-kindergarten through third grade, this project was inspired by the many transformations that take place all around us. The story highlights various settings, such as beaches, canyons, and glaciers, just to name a few, and the contrasting types of change—fast and slow, hot and cold, ancient and new—that occur.

“All of our experiences shape who we are, and VLS definitely impacted me and where I am today,” Cindy affirms. From thinking clearly and logically, to presenting ideas in an organized fashion, to carrying readers to an idea or end point, she credits VLS with helping her master these important competencies.

Keep an eye out for future projects from Cindy, who has additional books in different stages of the publication process. In the meantime, you can learn more by visiting

Photo credit: Christie Turnbull

Friday, October 8, 2021 12:00:00 PM

Students at Commencement

Support VLGS

Your philanthropy today
empowers tomorrow's leaders.

Making a gift is quick and easy through our secure online giving form. To get started, simply select an amount and click "continue" below.