First lady visits Vermont, encourages tech students to look to the future

Published: Apr. 5, 2023 at 1:54 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 5, 2023 at 6:02 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The first lady of the United States made her first visit to Vermont on Wednesday. Jill Biden was only on the ground in South Burlington for an hour and a half, but in that time she was able to tour the Beta Technologies electric aircraft and hangar and meet some tech students.

The plane emblazoned with the United States of America landed at the Burlington International Airport at about 1:20 p.m.

Despite the rainy weather, the first lady emerged with a smile and wave from the plane before heading into the Beta Technologies hangar at the airport. She visited Vermont for her “Investing in America” tour.

At Beta Technologies, she learned about cutting-edge electric aircraft from CEO Kyle Clark. She also spoke to students from the North Country Career Center about working on and building electric cars, and other students who are interns at Beta Technologies about the importance of getting hands-on experience with the tech industry and why students should be taught that there are plenty of tech positions out there for them.

“Just look around us right now. The students who are with us today are learning what it takes to design airplanes and maintain electric vehicles. They’re exploring jobs that didn’t even exist when many of us were in high school,” Biden said.

I spoke to those students about meeting the first lady and spreading the word about tech education.

“I think it propels me super well. I’m so excited about the opportunity Beta has given me with being able to meet the first lady, and just every day working here has been so spectacular,” said Phoebe Peckham, a Beta intern.

“For information to be out there about technical education, it just makes me feel like the future is going to be what I’m doing right now which is technical education,” said Colton Poulin, a Beta intern.

CEO Kyle Clark says this was an important moment to have the first lady, along with members of the Vermont delegation and the governor, at the expanding Beta Technologies.

“We need training, we need workforce, we are building this amazing net-zero building on the south side of the airport, and to have the first lady, fortuitous timing as we are making the transition and moving to the next phase of the business. It’s special, there’s no other word for it,” Clark said.

Mrs. Biden also spoke about how important it is to decrease the stigma of tech careers, encouraging students that it is the future and encouraging Vermont.

“Keep innovating in how you have high schools and colleges work together so that every young person has a pathway to the jobs that are critical to rebuilding our infrastructure, propelling our clean energy future and revitalizing our manufacturing right here at home,” she said.

The atmosphere was light, with lots of laughs from everyone including Biden. There was also a lot of discussion in the speeches about working across the aisle. The first lady and Gov. Scott highlighted that the way to get things done is for all sides to pull in the same direction.

Vermont was the final stop on the first lady’s Investing in America tour before she headed back to Washington.

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