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