Claverack, New York
8 January 2016 03:31PM
Cyndy Hall

I am thrilled to let you know that Columbia County has an exciting candidate for the 19th Congressional District seat.

Will Yandik.

As you know, the 19th will be vacant after Chris Gibson’s term ends. We have a unique opportunity to take back the seat with a dynamic, intelligent, engaged candidate and I believe Will is just the person we need to represent us.

Wil Yandik l is a former elementary school student of mine. I have watched him grow up, graduate from college, manage the family farm and take on leadership roles on the local and statewide levels, most recently as a re-elected Town of Livingston board member and as an activist for the environment.

This will be an uphill battle, but one we can WIN!

I hope you will get to know Will, even a little, by reading his resume and narrative (see below). I know you will be impressed by his experience, qualifications, education, and commitment to Columbia County and all we hold dear.


Family farmer, environmental leader, and Livingston Deputy Town Supervisor

Will Yandik is a fourth-generation farmer in New York’s Hudson Valley, an accomplished journalist and educator, and an environmental leader. Will serves on the Livingston Town Council in Columbia County and he is the first Democrat to be appointed Deputy Town Supervisor.

For the past 15 years, Will has been an advocate and leader for sustainable farming, clean and renewable energy, historic preservation, and empowering seniors to ensure their retirement security. He is a leader in the Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition, a group of farmers and families dedicated to protecting both the local economy and ratepayer dollars by advocating for an improved electricity transmission system to replace expensive, unsightly, and dangerous transmission towers.

Born and raised in Hudson, Will learned the values of hard work and community on the family farm and bakery in Livingston. The 1996 Valedictorian at Hudson High School, he earned a scholarship to Princeton then went to work as a writer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Will earned an additional degree in biology and completed his graduate studies at Brown University’s Center for Environmental Studies, all while working as a field ecology technician for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a regional state news reporter for AARP.

Will won two prestigious Switzer Fellowship awards to work at the offices of the Environmental Defense Fund and study and co-author a nationally-recognized public policy guide on how medium and small municipalities can reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2009, Will returned to Livingston to manage and work the 190-acre farm his great-grandfather purchased in 1915 with money he had saved while working as a local iron miner. The Green Acres Farm grows a variety of sustainable fruits and vegetables, along with eggs and honey. The farm operates a popular roadside stand and a bakery that has been a regional staple for 50 years.

Will also spent the past five years as an adjunct professor of biology at Columbia-Greene Community College and still writes a monthly report on issues and legislation affecting seniors that is featured in the AARP Bulletin.

In 2011, Will earned the trust of his community and was elected to the Livingston Town Council. Despite a 4-1 Republican majority, Will has worked with his colleagues to pass progressive policies including a ban on hydrofracking, a reduction in the town’s carbon footprint, and additional investments in green spaces. He worked to balance the budget every year and was recently re-elected to the Livingston Town Board, receiving the most votes of any council candidate from an electorate dominated by Republicans.

Will has a broad and deep background on issues critical to rural farmers and families, working-class families, and retirees. His work ethic, collaborative approach, vision, and unique blend of rural values and science-based solutions have built a record of results. That’s exactly what we need in Congress today.


For the past 15 years, I have been a passionate advocate for sustainable farming, clean energy and electricity, preserving our historic resources and advancing issues important to seniors. With a strong background in biology, science, farming and journalism, I have the requisite experience and qualifications to understand and advance national legislation significantly affecting citizens of the Hudson Valley and Catskills Regions. Born in the Hudson Valley, with deep family roots in the community, I have drawn from a professional career in D.C. and Boston, leadership roles in the New York Farm Bureau, and an 11-year reporting career for AARP, to develop a unique understanding of the needs and issues important to my fellow citizens in upstate N.Y. I have a proven track record of winning and keeping local elective office as a Town Council member in an area with few registered Democrats and I have the energy, drive and passion to accomplish progressive change.


2009 M.A. Brown University. Environmental Studies
2006 B.S. University of Wisconsin. Biology. Highest Honors
2000 B.A. Princeton University, English/Journalism. Thesis Honors

Professional Background

Youth-Present. Farmer at Green Acres Farm, Livingston, Columbia County.
With my brothers, I am the fourth generation to live and work on our 190-acre diversified fruit and vegetable farm. We strive to employ sustainable growing practices, operate a popular and successful farmstand and bakery from July to November, and make yearly improvements to conserve and preserve the land.

2004-Present. Regional State News Reporter. AARP Bulletin.
Covering both the Northeast and Midwest U.S. states, I write 10 news briefs each month summarizing important legislative developments and issues important to residents age 50+ including health care, retirement security, affordable utilities, home- and community-based services, housing and transportation.

2001- Present. Freelance writer, editor, and reporter.
Wrote, edited, and fact-checked a diverse portfolio of articles for the Wall Street Journal, Architectural Record, Landscape Architecture, the American Scholar, Preservation Magazine, and others.

2010-14. Adjunct Professor. Columbia-Green Community College
Taught courses in introductory biology and human biology, precursors for the college’s nursing and medicine programs and received some of the highest instructor performance evaluations in the faculty.

2011. Consultant. Hubbard Brook Research Foundation Environmental Literacy Program.
Collaborated with peer-reviewed ecologists to develop and write original classroom materials for grades K-12 to explore ecological research.

2009-10. Fellow. Hubbard Brook Research Foundation Science Links Program. Carbon and Communities. http://hubbardbrookfoundation.org/carbon-and-communities.

Served as the project’s primary writer and co-author. Carbon and Communities draws upon work from 19 scientists and carbon budgets from 9 model Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States to concisely offer advice to small- and medium-scale municipal governments for developing a meaningful carbon reduction plan. Offices were located at Environmental Defense Fund, Boston.

2004-5. Research Assistant. Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center.
Assisted with statistical and peer-reviewed analyses of the effects of PCBs on Hudson River Ecology.

2003-4. Field ecology technician. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Assisted with federal study of the effects of PCBs on Hudson River wildlife, emphasis on birds.

2003. Fellow. U.S. Capitol Historical Society. U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Competitive award to research, document and publish a study of the 1860’s lime-wash frescos of Constantino Brumidi (famous for the Apotheosis of Washington inside the U.S. Capitol dome).

2000-1. Editorial Assistant. Preservation Magazine. National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Wrote original pieces on historic preservation and American history for online and print editions of Preservation magazine.

Political Experience

2015. Livingston Town Council, Second term.
First ever Democrat to receive cross endorsement by town Republicans. Top vote getter despite Republican registration advantage of 2:1.

2011-15. Livingston Town Council, First term.
Despite a 4-1 Republican-led Town Council, I worked with my colleagues to pass progressive policies such as banning hydro-fracking townwide, filing an amicus brief in support of appellate review to defend NY’s home rule to regulate mining through zoning, reduction of the town carbon footprint, an $8,300 grant for historic resources survey from NY Preservation League, a $20,000 grant to fight a power line expansion through the town, expanded investment in town green spaces, appointed Democrats (previously unrepresented) to planning and zoning departments, and balanced budget all four years.

2013. Appointed Deputy Supervisor. First Democrat to hold this position in Livingston.

Environmental and Agricultural Associations

2015-present. Board of Trustees, Columbia Land Conservancy.
Raise funds, develop policy and direction for nationally-recognized land trust.

2013-present. Founding member, Hudson Valley Smart Energy Coalition.
HVSEC formed to end or alter parts of the NY Energy Highway Plan, which proposes to build 153 miles of overhead transmission lines from central NY through Otsego, Albany, Columbia, and Dutchess Counties. Regularly spoke to large audiences, published editorials, conducted numerous national newspaper, television and radio interviews, lobbied elected and appointed officials, raised $50,000+ in grants and individual contributions to support cause.

2012-present. Vice President, Columbia County Farm Bureau.
Represent the policy interests of diverse farming interests in Columbia County. Served as a delegate on the NYS policy review committee for the mid-Hudson Valley, editing state and national policy books.

2013-present. Board member. Columbia County Farmland Protection Board.
Develop and monitor agricultural protection districts in Columbia County.

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