Haley Michaud is no stranger to competition. She started showing calves in Vermont 4-H Dairy Shows when she was eight years old, gaining confidence, coordination, self-discipline, teamwork, and of course, skills in animal handling, first with the calves, then heifers, and cows.
Now a senior at Green Mountain Tech, Haley is in her second and final year in the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program.
In 2022, she took the gold medal at the SkillsUSA Vermont Conference, a contest in career readiness and professional excellence in Career and Technical Education. She ranked 7th in the country at the SkillsUSA National Conference in Atlanta.
And on Monday, January 30, Haley’s academic accomplishments were recognized at the statehouse with a 2023 Vermont Presidential Scholar award in Career Technical Education. “Definitely this one is really cool to win,” she says. “I like how people look at it for college applications.”
Haley attended the Pre-Tech program at Green Mountain Tech during her sophomore year. After exploring all twelve offerings, she landed with HVAC, believing it was the best fit. Her older brother attended the program for two years as well, giving her some early insights into the field.
Even though she’d been warned away from attending Green Mountain Tech, a product of continued lack of knowledge about career and tech ed, she remains proud and confident of her choice, “I’ve achieved more in my last three years here than most high school students ever will.” She says that Green Mountain Tech, “gives you a head start in whatever field you want to work in, academically as well.”
Haley plans to attend Alfred State College in New York next fall.
When asked about entering the male-dominated HVAC field, she observes, “This is my second year in the program, also my second year being the only girl in the program. It gives you a glimpse into what working in this field is going to be like. You’re going to have to get used to working with the guys in the trade. And hopefully, it helps them learn that when they do see a female in the trades, they’ll know that she can do the work as well as they can.”
Haley’s also got chops in one of Vermont’s long-standing traditions to boot. Last summer, her 4-H Vermont hunting/wildlife skills team placed fourth overall at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska.
If you can’t tell, Haley seems to be successful in nearly every venture she pursues. Her years of experience in 4-H competitions, and growing up on a dairy farm, also led to her being selected for the 2022 National 4-H Dairy Conference this past fall. The 4-H'ers were among 200 outstanding 4-H dairy members, ages 15-18, from more than 30 states and Canadian provinces selected to attend last year's conference in Madison, Wisconsin.
Perhaps, more important than the travel and the awards, she’s building connections between farming and her own future. “I didn’t realize how many places this field [HVAC] could take me when I first started, but now my main goal is to build my own HVAC business, specializing in the dairy industry.” Such a specialty includes servicing heating and refrigeration systems used in milk production and storage.
In the meantime, she’s working as the shop foreman in her Green Mountain Tech program. “I’m more prepared for the workforce, I get to showcase my leadership skills,” she notes with a smile. “I get to make sure no one loses a hand or burns themselves.”