OFFICE MANAGER, PARKER FAMILY MAPLE FARM, SUGARHOUSE
Hometown: Rockville, VA
Education: BS in Environmental Studies, Virginia Commonwealth Univ., Richmond, VA
Community Involvement: Member of NY State Maple Producer’s Association, Member of North Country Chamber of Commerce.
One reason Laura Trudeau chose to pursue a degree in Environmental Studies was because she enjoyed the outdoors. Now as a maple sugar maker at the Parker Family Maple Farm she gets to indulge her love of all things environmental. Before joining the Parker operation Laura taught Experiential Learning and was an Environmental Projects coordinator. In 2011 she became a maple production apprentice and that is when her love for the experience became her life’s work.
What’s the single most important characteristic for success?
Being resilient, having grit to get through difficulties. No matter how well educated or connected you are, if you can’t power through when things get tough, it will be very hard to achieve any kind of success. In growing a business or learning new skills, there will certainly be times when it is anything but easy.
What’s your dream job?
I am pretty much doing my dream job right now. I get to work with my hands, work with talented, hard-working people who are also my friends and family, spend time outdoors in one of the most beautiful environments in the world and produce and sell an all natural product that people LOVE. Maple production is so amazing for how localized it is; only able to be produced in the northeast corner of North America. It is also the most environmentally sustainable agricultural product that I can think of, supports forest health and creates an economic incentive for forest land preservation. Some of the most enjoyable moments in my working life, have been going out into the woods to work on sap lines on a crisp fall day with the leaves in full color or out on snowshoes in the winter after fresh snowfall when the breeze and the birds are the only sound.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
That is definitely a challenge right now. Especially when my partner, Mike Parker, is also working at the business with me. He is even more of a workaholic than me, but we love what we do. Our business is on a steep growth curve and going through a lot of changes while trying to keep costs down, so we work at least 70 hours a week with even more during the maple season, of course. The positive side of working together is that sometimes we get to spend time together during the work day, whether it’s fixing wiring on a tractor trailer or just driving to town to get supplies. The same goes for spending time with our families, as we have fun doing things on the farm with our family. The Parkers are a large family, so we try to get everyone together every so often to have our own family events, cookouts and four wheeler riding. We are able to do all that right here on the farm with our event pavilion and acres of land to work and play, which is pretty awesome.
What important lesson have you learned in your career?
The willingness to learn new skills is actually just as, if not more important, than already having that experience. People appreciate working with others who are enthusiastic about trying something new. Having to shift my career with the economic opportunities in front of me has forced me to go outside of the box that I thought my career would be when I was younger.