The 2024 class of the Stockbridge School of Agriculture
University News

Stockbridge School at UMass Amherst Celebrates Associate Degree Graduates at 102nd Commencement

The UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture celebrated its Class of 2024 associate degree graduates at the school’s 102nd Commencement on Saturday, May 18 in Stockbridge Hall’s Bowker Auditorium.

Reyes at Stockbridge
UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes speaks at Stockbridge School of Agriculture's 102nd Commencement.

The 18 members of the Class of 2024 each received associate of science degrees in one of five majors: arboriculture and community forest management, landscape contracting, sustainable food and farming, sustainable horticulture and turfgrass management.

The graduates proceeded into the auditorium accompanied by the UMass Amherst Graduate Brass Quintet as their family and friends stood in honor of the class. Alumnus Kevin Hollister ’78 sang the National Anthem and the college song, Alma Mater, at the end of the ceremony.

College of Natural Sciences Dean Michael Fox, marking his first Stockbridge graduation since joining UMass Amherst nine months ago, noted the strong support and encouragement that engaged and committed Stockbridge faculty and staff provide to students.

“I have met many graduates,” Fox said. “The resounding message I’ve received is that participation in this program is life changing.”

UMass Amherst Chancellor Javier Reyes was also attending his first Stockbridge graduation. He noted that the class has the distinction of being impacted both by the global pandemic, and, as they head out into the world, a global climate crisis.

Stockbridge pinning
Stockbridge graduates pin each other

“You are stewards of the environment,” Reyes said. “Few things will be more important” to the world.

He also noted that the strength of the Stockbridge program, one of the oldest and most prestigious agricultural programs in North America, has again ensured that each member of the Class of 2024 is leaving the university with full-time employment secured.

That fact speaks volumes to the education the graduates have received and the knowledge they’ve gained in class that will inform their real-world experiences and their commitment to a sustainable future, Reyes added.

Stockbridge School Director Baoshan Xing presented the Stockbridge School’s two prestigious awards: The John W. Denison Award and the Roland H. Verbeck Award.

Margaret Graves
Stockbridge Class of 2024 graduate Margaret Graves

The Denison Award for academic achievement and student leadership was presented to Tyler Wilson, a sustainable horticulture major. The Verbeck Award for personifying the ideals and spirit of the Stockbridge School was presented to William Morris, a turfgrass management major. Students recognized for academic distinction with GPAs between 3.5 and 3.74 were Rebecca Scheff and Tyler Wilson. Margaret Graves, arboriculture and community forest management, became a member of the Stockbridge Honorary Scholastic Society for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or higher.

Graduates representing each of the five Stockbridge School programs addressed the audience of family, friends and Stockbridge alumni.

Margaret Graves, a graduate of arboriculture and community forest management, praised the program’s “amazing faculty” and encouraged her fellow graduates to, in the words of the school’s moto, “Give your best to dear old Stockbridge—body, heart and soul.”

Stockbridge Class of 2024

Dante Filadoro, a landscape contracting graduate, said he was grateful to have been taught by “some of the best educators in the country,” while Morris noted that he never would have found his calling in turfgrass management if he hadn’t had to leave college in Vermont because of the pandemic. He got a landscaping job, decided he wanted to pursue it as a career and enrolled in Stockbridge.

The graduates were then conferred their degrees and pinned each other with the traditional Stockbridge pin, which symbolizes the connections they share with one another and the greater Stockbridge alumni community. 

The associate degree recipients of the Class of 2024 are:

Arboriculture and Community Forest Management

Margaret Graves

Landscape Contracting

Samuel Cowan (January graduate)

Shestin Gilbeau (January graduate)

Dante Filadoro

Braeden McKenna

Eliot Morrison

Connor Salmon

Robert Vanaria

Sustainable Food and Farming

Cameron Boylan

Rebecca Sheff (January graduate)

Moshe Skoglund

Sustainable Horticulture

Ethan Gioscia

Miles Sidoti (January graduate)

Tyler Wilson

Turfgrass Management

Peter Breitmaier Jr.

Matthew Gillis

Andrew Kotsifas (January graduate)

William Morris

The Stockbridge School of Agriculture and Stockbridge Hall were named in honor of Levi Stockbridge, a farmer from Hadley who was pivotal to the establishment of the Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC), which later became UMass Amherst. Stockbridge served as its first professor of agriculture from 1872 to 1882 and as MAC’s fifth president, from 1880 to 1882.