Gianna Petito, District Manager

Gianna joined Winooski NRCD as District Manager in September, 2018, eager to spearhead programs that foster effective resource management in Vermont. She holds a Master of Science degree in Conservation Ecology and Environmental Planning from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment where she focused on  collaborative landscape management and conservation finance, exploring how to integrate the value of nature into established decision-making contexts. Gianna has worked for several environmental non-profit groups including the Huron River Watershed Council and the Friends of the Winooski River and she has a strong background in water quality assessments and habitat restoration. Prior to graduate school, she was youth program coordinator for the Montana Conservation Corps, where she gained experience in invasive species control, streambank stabilization, and volunteer management. Off the clock you can find Gianna running, cross country skiing, gardening, or acting with a community theatre troupe.


Kristen Balschunat,  Conservation Specialist                                  Kristen joined the Winooski NRCD team in June 2018. She assists with program management for Rethink Runoff Stream Team, agricultural water quality outreach, Trees for Streams riparian tree planting, and community education. She grew up in the Lake Champlain Basin, in Glens Falls, NY.  After earning a B.A. in Geography from SUNY Geneseo, she worked as an environmental educator for four years teaching experiential science curriculum to students of all ages with The Wild Center, Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, The Appalachian Mountain Club and The Ecology School. Kristen has worked for multiple farms in the Northeast, including Foggy Meadow Farm in Benson, VT and is committed developing solutions that help both farmers and watersheds thrive. She is an active community scientist, involved in projects like eBird, iNaturalist, spotted salamander research and bird banding. In her free time Kristen enjoys hiking, birding, painting, gardening and canoeing.


Cherie Staples, Bookkeeper

Cherie spent eleven years with the Vermont Land Trust, after six years at Vermont Natural ResourcesCherie Council, and then moved to Colorado for six years, where she helped care for her first granddaughter and then managed the Denver office of The Wilderness Society.  Along the way, a camera has been a steady companion and she has quite a raft of photos. Returning to Vermont in 2003, she’s become a part-time bookkeeper for several businesses in the central Vermont area. She is a member of the Onion River Chorus and sings in the Old Meeting House Choir, and participates on an East Montpelier community committee. Cherie has two children and three grandchildren.


Caitlin Maloney, Communications Intern

Caitlin began volunteering with Winooski NRCD in 2018 and has assisted with the Tree Sale, outreach and education and communications. Currently, Caitlin is a Coordinator of Rise VT. Before moving to Vermont, she got her master’s degree in Ohio studying soil bugs and gaining a passion for science communication. She then went on to take a science communication internship with the Morton Arboretum near Chicago. During her free time, Caitlin enjoys co-hosting a podcast (Bugs&Stuff), cross country skiing, cooking for her family, and enjoying the mountains of Vermont.

Molly Bulger, Conservation Specialist

Molly joined the Winooski NRCD team in April 2021 to help manage the District’s Regenerative Soils and Food Systems program. She hopes to be able to support the District’s lands as well as people in her role. After completing a BA in Anthropology (University of New Hampshire, 2013), Molly worked at multiple environmental and farm-based education non-profits, including at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, VT. She then studied for a Master of Science in Agroecology (Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 2017), and was able to learn about how the local food movement is developing in various corners of the earth. All along her path, Molly has seized opportunities to develop her own practical farming skills, whether by milking goats, tending seedlings, spreading compost, pruning perennials, or welcoming baby lambs in early Spring. When time avails, Molly loves nordic skiing, exploring new cultures, and crafting herbal teas.