Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 5: Writing Inventory Reports and Management Plans

This week was our first week spent almost entirely inside. On Monday we participated in a day long retreat for NR207 with Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees and Zach Ispa-Landa. We met in the Green House, circling up and initially beginning with a few exercises to perfect our listening and understanding skills.  We continued on to collectively determine the various ways in which we are all different and similar.  The main intent of the retreat was to determine how differences lead to preferences to privilege to power, and then the cycle continues.  We discussed how differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, and class can lead to privilege and power, or a lack of power.  

Tuesday through Thursday we were hard at work compiling our data and writing inventory reports and management plans for our respective towns. When we walked in our meeting room on Tuesday to crack down on work we were pleasantly surprised to walk into a large room with floor to ceiling stained glass windows and high ceilings. This historical room was inspiring to work in as we were making our own history. The pictures below display the LANDS crew hard at work. 

Organizing data in the Dewey Lounge in Old Mill

Report writing in Aiken

On Wednesday afternoon Grant and Chris taught the group about how to correctly prepare for backpacking. They taught us how to pack lightly and efficiently, the importance of layers, and how to distribute weight in a pack to ensure balance and safety. They taught us this lesson to prepare for our 3 night backpacking trip at Stratton Pond next week. Chris and Grant brought some visual aids to help us learn. Unfortunately Dolphina the blow up dolphin did not make the cut for appropriate items to pack. Maybe next trip Dolphina. 

Grant and Chris the backpacking gurus with Dolphina

Also on Wednesday to give us a break from the indoors and our computers, we were surprised with a trip to Ethan Allen Park to meet with Wes Testo. Wes is a graduate student doing his research work on fern evolution. 
Wes teaching the group
It was very kind of Wes to take time out of his day to meet with us and share some of his fern identification wisdom with us. We were all relieved to find out that fern identification is easier than tree identification, something we had done for a three full days the week before. 

Wes teaching us what characteristics to look for to ID ferns

Some innovative techniques were used to best teach us about some of the smallest ferns that grow in the driest places 

Looking through the pictures from last week, this gem was discovered. Maintaining the notion of LNT (Leave No Trace) we used all of our resources, including the not-so-perfect pictures. After a long week of compiling data and writing inventory reports and management plans, LANDS has a bit of comic relief with a picture of the Middlebury crew.

We sure made some frond memories this week!

Brought to you with love from Olivia and James 

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