Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week 4: Hugging trees with iTree and a dinner at a yurt!

Greetings from LANDS World! This week was centered around tree inventory surveys in several Vermont communities. On Monday, Elise Schadler from the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program joined us to complete our iTree training. We went on a tree identification scavenger hunt around campus, and the winners received decomposition notebooks and gourmet chocolate.
We spent Monday working on our tree identification skills with Elise. 

Part of the Vergennes crew examines the city zoning map and discusses the tree inventory game plan. 

Tuesday marked the first day of our camping trip. We met at the Aiken Research Lab on Spear Street bright and early, split into our crews, and departed for our communities.  The LANDS crew was divided into three teams for the communities of Bristol, Middlebury, and Vergennes. We met with our project sponsors, who welcomed and oriented us before setting off on our work. After spending the day inventorying trees, we set up camp at Eagle Park on the New Haven River in Bristol. 

Our home base for camping was Eagle Park in Bristol. 
After enjoying a scrumptious riverside meal of rice and bean burritos, we bundled up with our layers and gathered around the fire. Peanut butter cookies from Olivia and cake from Grant were treats tonight in celebration of Nick's 21st birthday. Shortly thereafter, we retreated to our tents to be lulled asleep by the sounds of the river.

What a lovely view! 

Jules and Zoe enjoy dinner and conversation along the scenic New Haven River. 

After camp was set up, the group gathered around the fire.

Happy 21st Birthday, Nick! 

Several of us explored the New Haven River and came across the Toaster, a beautiful waterfall.

Wednesday morning came quickly! In the crisp morning air of early fall we broke down camp and ate a quick breakfast of oats. Lunch preparations simultaneously happened, composed of a ‘build your own wrap’ buffet line, LANDS style. This was the fullest day of inventory, but also the most beautiful with sunny skies, a light breeze, and the feeling of autumn upon us. We started around 8:30 A.M. and surveyed our respective towns until 4:30 P.M. 

Team Middlebury enjoyed this gorgeous view during their tree inventories. 
The Vergennes team discovered the true meaning of "tree hugging": taking DBH (diameter at breast height)!

After reconvening in Bristol, Elise’s coworker, Caitlin, and her husband, Matt, treated us to a wonderful chili dinner (complete with cornbread, salad, and brownies) at their sugarbush, Little Hogback Farm. We were treated to a tour of both their yurt and their state-of-the-art sugar shack, where Matt shared his sugaring process and his aspirations to make 300 gallons of syrup this season. After returning to Eagle Park and setting up our tents in the pitch black (#challengeaccepted) the crew quickly called it a night, exhausted from the long day and in preparation for yet another early morning.

Matt of Little Hogback Farm shows us his elaborate sugar shack.

Caitlin gave us a tour of their humble abode: a beautiful, cozy yurt.
We enjoyed a chili dinner graciously prepared by Caitlin and Matt.

Thursday morning, we broke camp for the final time, following the same routine as before: breakfast, packing, lunch preparations, and loading the vans. Each team spent their third day working hard to inventory trees and accomplish as much as possible. After a morning and afternoon of work, we packed up at our home bases and returned to Burlington to complete community roles.

This week, we learned about camp life, tree identification, and urban forestry. We spent the week working hard in the field in our teams, and continued to improve this team’s chemistry. We also familiarized ourselves with these beautiful Vermont communities, and enjoyed spending time amongst them. Next week, we’re looking forward to our NR 207 retreat with Zac and Kaylynn, and to compiling our tree inventory data into management plans. Cheers!

Brought to you with love by Brian and Bonnie! Over and out.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Field Semester Training Week 2

We began our week early on Monday morning and headed to UVM’s Jericho Research Forest for our Wilderness First Aid training and first LANDS camping trip of the semester. We were cheerfully greeted by our instructor Dave from Aerie Backcountry Medicine. Upon arriving we dove in to our wilderness medicine training. Dave began by teaching us the ABCDEs of wilderness medicine: Airways, Breathing, Circulation, Deficits, and Environment. We learned the signs and symptoms and how to treat different types of injuries and conditions, including shock, head injuries, sprains and strains, heart attacks, strokes, hypothermia, abdominal emergencies, diabetes, and allergic reactions.

We acted out hypothetical situations to help apply our new training to potential scenarios and work on diagnosing a variety of medical issues. The class ended on Tuesday and everyone received their WFA card, as well as a couple of people who used the class to recertify their Wilderness First Responder certifications. We all had a blast with this training!

Our first night of camping was great as well! We enjoyed two types of lasagna and s’mores around the campfire.


Wednesday we honed in on our GIS skills through a scavenger hunt that led us to the maps room in the UVM Library. We looked at parcels of land in groups and explored their ecological resources through the use of maps and GIS data. We met back together as a group to give presentations to the "Grumpy Cat Land Trust."

Thursday was our first rainy day together but we made the most of it on a trip out to Lone Rock Point with Alicia Daniel. We explored the geology of the area and learned about thrust faults. In groups we examined the multiple levels of the area’s landscape. The afternoon was spent on a orienteering challenge in Centennial Woods!


Friday, September 5, 2014

LANDS Semester Training Week

Week 1

Week 1 of the first ever LANDS Field Semester was awesome. We met in The Forestry Center and Laura, a LANDS leader began the daily tradition of Bringing The Minds Together with a reading. Then, we got to know each other by playing a name game. It had been a while since we saw each other in the spring. The first day we went over the LANDS handbook and moved into our new space in The Forestry Center.

We ended the day with a nature walk, concentrating on using our senses and observing the landscape. Day 2, we went over self care and how to be prepared for potential hazards we may encounter in coming weeks.

We then calculated our pace. I'm 19 paces per 100 feet!

After doing some math in the grass we went around and collected samples of shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plant species to familiarize ourselves with the abundance of plants at The Forestry Center. We used Wildflower, tree and shrub field guides to determine the species.

After that, we read Aldo Leopold's Land Ethic and discussed our own land ethics. Next, we went through an obstacle course blindfolded with a partner guiding us through it to improve our communication skills.

Day 3, Emily brought our minds together with some yoga in the grass and hopped in the van for our first field trip to Gleason Brook at the base of Camel's Hump. We learned navigational skills and map orientation by using our handy-dandy advanced compasses.

Then we met with Liz Thompson who works for the Vermont Land Trust and also co-authored one of our books Wetland, Woodland, Wildland: A Guide to Vermont's Natural Communities. She was very knowledgeable and excited to show us various soil profiles and the differences in natural communities that went along with them. She gave us a lesson on the geologic history of Vermont and how it has implications for the soil and therefore the plants that are able to grow in the area.

Liz glowing like an angel.

We also did a lot of plant identification in the woods with Liz.

Friday, day 4, Flore brought our minds together with some stretching and read a poem called The Word. We planned our meals for our first camping trip. We then piled in the van, headed to Hannafords, got our ingredients, and headed to Oakledge by the water.

We gathered in the Forever Young Treehouse and discussed group dynamics and how to reach our maximum group potential.

Then we took a swim in Lake Champlain and ate lunch on the rocks. Next, we went to Centennial Woods to identify invasive plant species. The first week has been a great experience.  We can already tell we're going to learn a lot from both our teachers and peers. Can't wait for next weeks Wilderness First Aid training. Until next time bloggersphere.

Love: Nick and Shannon

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Final Countdown-Week 9

Dinner @ Deane's
Time flies when you're having LANDS,,,,
and after wrapping up our small team projects the crew entered its final week of the summer.

Wednesday night we gathered at Professor Deane's house for celebratory BBQ, volleyball, and blueberry pie. We all piled our plates high with delicious burgers, corn on the cob, and watermelon salad.

We huddled around the picnic table and a feeling of nostalgia filled the cool evening air. We recalled all of the other times we've squeezed ourselves into the over-stuffed van (aka The Landslide), tents, and an endless number of circles for Laura's games and endless planning meetings alike. As Deane coaxed us all into eating 2nds and 3rds everyone ate as much as they could  and sure enough the picnic table got smaller and smaller. Little did we know this was the first step in Deane's mater plan to school us all in his favorite activity......backyard volleyball!

The crew was quickly split into two ferocious teams based on survival and tree ID skills.
 "Play to 15, best two out of three," called Deane, "and only the winner gets blueberry pie" 
And so it began, the smack-down-drag-out game of volleyball: team "Spikey Spruce" Vs." Laura's Team." . After a summer of hiking, camping, and games of hack-y-sac the crew was in tip-top shape. The first game was narrowly stolen by the Spruces but then second game was swept by Laura's team. Friends of the LANDS crew were invited to play and in the picture below you will see, in live action, the wide spectrum of skill level. The competition was fierce to say the least. It all came down to the final game. The score was neck and 14-14, and after a heart stopping rally Nate, on team Spruce, scored the winning point!
 The MVP went to Jessica Mason who served the Spruces an 8 point streak!
(Everyone ate blueberry pie)

some guests had been secretly training for this "friendly" match

          After recovering from the volley ball game the crew met Thursday morning on UVM campus to polish off the final project reports and prepare for the evening's long anticipated final presentation. After only one practice run it was time to set up for the real presentation. The crew dressed to impress and gathered on the third floor of the George D. Aiken Center to greet friends, project sponsors, and other guests.  Each week of the summer was highlighted during the hour long presentation and every intern spoke with confidence. At the very end we all shared our summer's "Words of Wisdom" with the audience. In the end working through the rain (with wet socks), forging fast-moving mountain streams, sweating in the city heat during urban tree inventories, getting caught in patches of invasive Buckthorn, avoiding poison ivy, and even removing ticks was all worth it.
The Final Presentation on UVM campus

Diploma's for each intern. Hooray!

As we find ourselves at the conclusion of our journey one may ask themselves, "What will become of all these wonderful interns after the summer of 2014?" Look no further. 

Dustin-Traveling around the world working in Home Depots
Katherine-Working on a farm in Pennsylvania and then studying abroad in Germany and then getting her Master's degree at Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Ben-Surfing the shores of New Hampshire, and skipping his undergrad degree and going straight for a PHD at Middlebury College, or he may just drop out of school to write a novel.....
Travis-Graduating, Getting a Job, Buying a new Truck, Callin' it Mesic! 
Gabo- Returning to Massachusetts to work on a farm.Then traveling to Belize to work on GIS and remote sensing conservation projects as well as become a famous salsa dancer
Nate-Starting his music and modeling career in South Royalton, VT while simultaneously opening up an environmental educationaal "Big Dave-Grunt" Workshop 
Jessa-Becoming a free spirit at "Gathering of the Vibes" and then returning to her studies at UVM
Lincoln-Trekking around the Adirondack Mts. and then embarking on an international tour with the now famous band Squimley and the Woolens. 

Lincoln Frasca

Shelburne Tree Inventory Presentation and Small Team Projects!

To start things off I'd like to take you all back to the past. If you recall, in week three of the LANDS program we began our first of three tree inventories of the summer in Shelburne, VT. The town was so interested in our work and the work of  the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry program, they asked us to present to the Shelburne tree committee and to the Select Board. After sitting in on some of the Select Board meeting, and hearing some heated discussions prior to out presentation, some of us started to feel a bit anxious, but as always we were up to the challenge!

 Jessa and Gabo presenting to the Shelburne Tree Committee 
 The team "monkeying" around between the two presentations
Lincoln introducing the presentation and the LANDS crew

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes a video with actual words helps. Here is a link to our presentation to the Shelburne Select Board! 

Be sure to click on the Video "Shelburne Selectboard" for July 22, 2014

Now, to bring you to the slightly more recent past. The final two days of week eight, and the beginning two of week nine were completely devoted to working on our small team projects (STPs). What are STPs you ask? It's a chance for interns to work in groups of two or three, and exercise all their skills they've accumulated to assist a project sponsor with whatever conservation work they need. Essentially, it's similar to the work we've done all summer, but each team got the freedom to supervise themselves and delineate tasks for the week.

We didn't just get thrown out into the wild though. Each intern received the chance to chose their top three projects out of a potential nine that had been offered to the program. Our wonderful leaders then broke us into small teams based on our project preferences and we were divided as follows: 

Team 1: Travis, Dustin, and Katherine

Team 2: Ben, Travis, and Nate

Team 3: Jess and Gabo 

Team 1 was chosen to complete the Williams Woods Invasive Survey in Charlotte, VT. This team's objective was to survey transects in Williams Woods for bush honeysuckle, common buckthorn, glossy buckthorn, Japanese barberry, and burning bush (all common non-native invasives in Vermont). It started with some difficulty and heartache as this group spent four hours searching for rebar along the property edge which was supposed to identify the start of the transects. They never found the rebar and were forced to improvise, but never fear! This group persevered by creating their own transects. In the end, they had a ton of fun and received more lessons in bush-waking than they ever thought possible.

 Dustin and Katherine identifying invasive plants within their plot

 Katherine and Travis were forced to measure the distance to the next transect because the brush was too thick
 Travis and Katherine at the start of one of the transects, where there was a thick patch of honeysuckle and buckthorn

Team 2 was selected to create an interpretive trail map for Journeys End trail and swimming hole in Johnson, VT. Ben, Lincoln, and Nate spent one day in the field exploring the trail, identifying the plants, mapping the trail, and even enjoying the awesome swimming hole! They spent three additional days in the office reporting writing, and working with Photoshop to create some amazing signage. They created five signs with engaging, accessible information on the following subjects: wildlife community, geology, forest community, stream ecology, and land use history. These signs are intended to reach a wide range of audiences and will be an amazing addition to this already beautiful area.
 Some beautiful Indian pipe identified by the team
 Ben working in the computer lab on Photoshop
 Current Journeys End sign

An example of the signage created by the team in Photoshop

Team 3 also worked in Journeys End in Johnson, Vermont, but they focused on trail connectivity. The objective was to increase understanding and accessibility of Johnson's extensive trail network. Specifically, the team surveyed trail conditions, located potential trial linkages, and created a comprehensive map of the trail system. They did this via GPS mapping, a lot of hiking, and traversing the many rivers and waterfalls that flow through the trail network. At the end of it all, they created  maps in GIS that present the current and proposed trail network. 

Gabo standing majestically in front of a waterfall 
 Another beautiful waterfall along the trail network
Awesome map created by Gabo and Jessa with GIS software

Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoy the pictures.

On behalf of the LANDS Summer team 2014

Wishing everyone well,

Dustin Circe