Trevor Farr drives a 2018 Toyota Tundra the color of a cayenne pepper. The truck smells like it came off the lot yesterday. It’s spotless, inside and out—minus a baseball cap and his son’s (also spotless) car seat in the back. He says his wife picks on him for being so fastidious, but Farr adds with a laugh that the habit has proven useful.
If you eat dairy, there’s a good chance Farr has signed off on the quality of your food before it even hits store shelves. He’s the plant sanitarian at Agri-Mark, Inc., the owner of the Cabot label. The Middlebury plant, where Farr’s been working for almost ten years, manufactures cheese, butter, yogurt, sour cream, whey protein, and other products. The co-operative is owned by more than 1,000 farms in New York and New England—although Farr is quick to clarify that a product must be made with mostly Vermont milk to earn the “Vermont-made” moniker.
Farr says he likes the work for two main reasons. “I know that I’m having an impact on millions of people’s lives by helping make safer, higher-quality foods,” he says. “And then working for the co-op: because it’s owned by the farmers, I know that we’re supporting Vermont’s economy in a huge way.”
His attention to detail has also served him well in school. Farr just finished his associate degree in STEM studies at CCV with a nearly perfect 4.0 GPA. He started classes at the Middlebury center in 2015 after realizing that furthering his education would have a big impact on his potential for growth on the job. “My workplace had changed their management guidelines,” he explained. “In order to move into a managerial role they had education qualifications…they recommended at least an associate degree.” From here, Farr has his sights set on the Nutrition and Food Sciences program at UVM. “The bachelor’s degree is something they’ve kind of set as a standard for a manager specifically, so basically my next goal is to knock that out and be more qualified,” he says.
But school hasn’t always been a breeze—far from it. “I was at best a C student through high school,” he says. “I didn’t have high expectations for myself, didn’t have a lot of self-respect. I had a hard time paying attention.” He says he didn’t have a lot of friends as a teenager, and was even bullied. “I was not the kind of person that wanted to excel and take on different things in life.”
Nor was the idea of going to college on his radar. Neither of his parents had, and it didn’t seem necessary. “I did construction jobs during the summer in high school and that’s what I got into as soon as I got out. I kind of just felt like that was the way of life, because that’s how I grew up.” He said the biggest hurdle when he finally decided to take classes at CCV was a lack of self-confidence. “Because of my grades in school and who I was…I just didn’t feel like I belonged, and didn’t deserve to be a college student.”
Farr’s first CCV class was Applied Mathematics. He says he surprised himself by how well he did. He signed up for two classes each spring, summer, and fall, and has been able to complete his degree in three years. Farr also took advantage of the Prior Learning Assessment program and earned credits for knowledge he’d already acquired on the job. He joined CCV-Middlebury’s Community of Student Representatives, and this spring was nominated to be the student speaker at CCV’s 51st commencement.
Farr will address his classmates on Saturday, June 2nd at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont. More than 500 fellow graduates will join him, representing all 13 of the College’s academic centers and every county of the state. In addition, graduates hail from 11 other states and 15 countries around the world. CCV President Joyce Judy will officiate, and the ceremony will feature a keynote address by Jen Kimmich, CEO and co-founder of The Alchemist Brewery. Vermont Governor Phil Scott will also speak.
Farr is looking forward to sharing a part of his story at commencement. He says he’ll draw on concepts from his science courses, and also touch on more personal themes. “If you looked at a picture of me from fifteen or twenty years ago and then look at where I’m at now, I think I’m a completely different person.” He says that the decision to go to college was motivated by his career, but there were personal reasons too. Years out of high school, he discovered a love of reading non-fiction. “I liked the facts. I liked gaining something from the books. I enjoyed expanding my knowledge, so that became kind of a passion,” he says. There was also a desire to grow. “It was all about being stuck in a box growing up,” he says. “I just wanted to make a change, do something different, take a leap of faith.”
Farr sees his education as an investment in himself. “‘Growing your own personal brand’ is what I like to call it,” he says. “[It’s] my resume, it’s my brand, and I want to grow my resume so that it looks as good as it possibly can. I think that’s what it’s about.” Ultimately, Farr says the most valuable thing he’s learned at CCV is the power of being a positive role model for others. “Not just for my son and family, but friends and everybody else. To see what is possible, and what you’re capable of.”
Registration for CCV’s spring and summer 2019 semesters is now open. Visit ccv.edu/apply to apply today.