Inclusive employment in our NEK communities is a win-win for the individual and employer.

There aren't many things that Rylee Maseck loves more than bulldozers, tractors, and cows (especially calves). So securing employment at God's Country Farm in Derby Line was the perfect fit for Rylee, who also mentioned that his dad once worked on a dairy farm, and he wanted to be just like him.

Through a community connection, Employment Specialist Chris Vertrosky learned about God's Country Farm, a 220-head family dairy farm owned by Adrian Fortin. Adrian, who purchased the farm from his father, was open to learning more about the employment services at NKHS and how this partnership would work.

Adrian admits he was a bit skeptical at first. As a busy dairy farmer, Adrian couldn't help Rylee with his farm chores or be with him if he needed direction. Chris understands that individuals can require more guidance and assured Adrian that Julia Flanders, a Direct Service Professional, would be with Rylee for every shift to ensure he wouldn't be alone. When Adrian needed a hired hand, Rylee was more than happy to fill that spot.

Not quite two months into the job, Rylee's dedication and enthusiasm for the work have shown through his naming (and remembering) all the cows, the special care and connection he gives to the calves, and his willingness to tackle any chore (his favorite is hauling sawdust). Adrian remarks on how perceptive Rylee is, like when he can tell a cow was moved to a different spot. He said Rylee took to the work much faster than expected; he does a good job and often does more than asked. Rylee feels at home at God's Country Farm, loves to share his ideas for improvements, and casually remarks that he thinks of Adrian as family.

Julia praises Rylee's growth, "He's worked hard to overcome some of his challenges, and I'm impressed by how quickly he's improved and thrived in his role here."

“There is nothing like seeing the look on someone’s face when they are told, ‘You got the job!’” says Chris Vertrosky, NKHS Employment Specialist. "As an Employment Specialist, I get a 'two for one' of sorts because there is also nothing like the look of gratitude on an employer’s face when it’s a perfect fit.”

Overall, Rylee's journey at God's Country Farm is a testament to the power of community connections, supportive partnerships, and the determination to pursue one's passions. His story highlights the importance of creating inclusive work environments where individuals of all abilities can thrive in their communities.