Well, we can’t say we didn’t know it was coming. Early this year, Jeff Comstock, the Agency’s long-time groundwater monitoring coordinator, announced his plans to retire in the fall of 2017. Shamelessly, we kept him right up to the final bell on his last day, recording as much of his knowledge as we could from his 3-decade career with the Agency.
Born in Burlington, Vermont, Jeff joined the Navy right after high school. A few years in the engine room at sea taught him that the land was a better place for him. He returned to Vermont and graduated from the University of Vermont completing studies in Animal Science and Biochemistry. Shortly after, Jeff was hired by the then-Department of Agriculture. When asked what his first day was like, he confessed, “Well, I wore a suit and tie.” Being Jeff, he quickly replaced the suit with field clothes. And ever since then, any chance he got, Jeff was out actively working in the field. It has never been too hot, too cold, too windy, or too rainy for him to venture out. Over his career, he has traversed the state working with and teaching farmers, neighbors, and communities about groundwater movement and ways to prevent contamination. Multiple times over his career Jeff has been recognized as a national leader in improving the science and understanding of groundwater.
A man of many talents, some of his most important contributions have come from the “other duties as assigned” category in his job description. When things are at their worst, Jeff has always been at his best. After Tropical Storm Irene hit and devastated so many farms, the FDA wanted to condemn any flooded feed. Jeff managed to convince the FDA that he could develop and implement a feed testing plan to demonstrate the feed was safe and did not need to be condemned. It worked, saving undue losses from some of the most impacted farms. Jeff has also been the Agency’s go-to when catastrophe struck and resulted in high numbers of animal mortalities. Jeff worked with the impacted farmers to quickly and appropriately handle the mortalities.
A longstanding member of the Green Mountain Club and avid outdoor athlete, Jeff and his wife, Nancy, are looking forward to spending much more time outdoors in their retirement. Look for him on the trails or the slopes. And thank you, Jeff, for your many years of service and friendship.