2019 FNEP Symposium

“Modern forces shaping the land: observation to action”
May 18 – 19
Highland Lodge, Greensboro VT


The Schedule

Saturday, May 18

Gathering, Orientations, & Introductions | 10 am – 10:45 am
Keynote: Cedric Alexander | 10:45 – noon
Lunch (included in conference registration fee) | noon
“The question that keeps me up at night” – Problem-solving discussions | 1 – 2:30
Field Walks! | 2:30 – 6 pm
Dinner (included in conference registration fee) | 6 pm
“Adventures From the Field” – A Moth-style storytelling evening | 7 – 8:30 pm

Sunday May 19

Morning Bird Walks | 7 – 9 am
“Caffeinated Networking” breakfast/coffee hour | 9 – 10 am
“Hot Topics” – Presentations on current alumni projects | 10 – noon
Lunch (included in conference registration fee) | noon
“Last Words” – concluding discussions on our theme | 12:45 – 1:30 pm
Field Walks! | 1:30 – 5 pm
Departures | 5 pm


“The question that keeps me up at night”
Problem-solving discussions

Socially-Just Conservation – Lauren Sopher
Our conservation efforts do not reach all populations in Vermont. We need to find ethical and effective ways to address this issue. We’ll discuss best practices for integrating this type of work into our projects. How can we integrate marginalized populations into Vermont’s progressive conservation agenda? And how can we consistently integrate social analyses into conservation projects of all types and scales?

Impacts of Outdoor Recreation – Shelby Perry
What are the long term implications of the decisions we are making today about outdoor recreation access to our natural lands? How can we strike a thoughtful balance between both protecting our natural resources and encouraging recreation as a means to access and experience the natural world? Do all lands need to be opened to humans, or are there instances where we should designate land solely for non-human life to thrive?

FNEP – The Next Phase – Jeffrey Hughes
The Field Naturalist and Ecological Planning Program is overdue for another round of forward thinking.  Unexpected pieces miraculously fell into place this winter making it possible for us to really think through and plan the program’s next chapter. This session will be the first opportunity for alumni to help contribute to the direction of the future of our graduate program.

“Hot Topics”
Presentations on current alumni projects

Dune Restoration for Shorebirds on Cape Cod
Lyra Brennan
Dead Neck Sampson’s Island, off the coast of Cape Cod, faces a variety of challenges– sediment starvation from man-made structures, rising tides, and erosion from increased storm frequency. This island also happens to be a key breeding ground for multiple threatened shorebird species like Piping Plover and Least Tern. In November 2018, Mass Audubon and the Barnstable Clean Water Coalition initiated a 3-year restoration project to restore nesting habitat and remediate extensive erosion.

The Wide World of Restoration Genetics
Tate Bushell
Ecological restoration is a big part of many land stewardship programs.  Practitioners of all stripes – NGO’s, contractors, universities and governments – restore habitats by planting native plants or sowing native seed, but where is the plant material coming from? Do the genetics of this material matter?  I’ll review highlights of my recent slog through the literature on this topic. Don’t worry – its not too heavy on genetics.

Searching for Arnica: a story of cliffs, climbing, and Smugglers’ Notch
Bob Zaino
A century-old pressed plant specimen draws me, as an ecologist and climber, to Smugglers’ Notch. This steep-walled mountain pass should be ideal habitat for arnica: Groundwater seeps out of the forests and cliffs. Wet, craggy, subalpine habitat abounds. Surely, the plant must be there.
So I look…

Indiginous culture meets modern resource management
Maria Dunlavey, Conservation Outdoor Coordinator, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
For nearly a century, members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians have been barred from traditional gathering activities in the national park land adjoining their reservation. This spring, that changed. I’ll introduce you to sochan (Rudbeckia laciniata), the subject of the first ever formal gathering agreement between the park and the tribe — and to the story it tells about reintegrating culture with modern resource management.

“Searching for a Phoenix: Fire’s role in conserving an endangered bird in New Hampshire’s Ossipee Pine Barrens
Jason Mazurowski
In 2018, as historic wildfires spread across the American West, our complicated relationship with fire entered the national conversation. Meanwhile, two thousand miles to the east, fire is being used as a management tool to provide habitat for the last remaining population of Common Nighthawks in New Hampshire. What can these birds teach us about forest management, and how do we know when we’ve got it right?”

The Status of UVM’s Natural History Collection
Sonia DeYoung, Curatorial Assistant, UVM Natural History Museum
The 2017 fire in Torrey Hall forced the UVM natural history collections out of their historic home. Now, we have the unprecedented opportunity to redesign Torrey Hall as a modern, public natural history museum. This talk will address the origins and significance of our 700,000 specimens, where we are now in the project, and where we want to go.

Emerald Ash Borer management and mitigation in VT
Allaire Diamond, Ecologist, Vermont Land Trust
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) arrived in Vermont in 2018, continuing a 16+ year path of destruction that threatens all North American ash species. What lessons can our conservation and forestry communities take from other states that have experienced EAB for many years? Vermont Land Trust is establishing ash monitoring plots that may help identify resistant trees, working closely with landowners to apply emerging research to their forest management plans, and partnering with others to document and celebrate ash while it’s still part of our landscape.

Tracing the Phantom Border: Renewal and Remembrance in Germany’s Green Ribbon
Kerstin Lange
When the Berlin Wall fell under the pressure of peaceful protests thirty years ago, the 900-mile-long border that had separated the two German states also became obsolete. During the four decades that humans were kept out, this narrow strip of land became a refuge for more than 1,200 rare plant and animal species.  In 2016 and 2017, I traced the former border by bicycle and on foot to investigate its human, ecological, and socio-political legacies.  I will talk about the story of the border itself – its layers of history and its transformation into Germany’s longest, skinniest nature preserve – and share stories from my expedition.

The Wonder Project
Mike Blouin & Laura Yayac
Think back to when you were five years old: do you remember the deep wonder and curiosity you felt towards the world? Laura and Mike will share how they inspire this sense of wonder toward nature among their students at UVM through a semester-long journal and project. They will share techniques and tools to develop deeper relationships with nature, which can be used as part of an individual practice, in educational settings, and beyond.

A Clayplain Forest Murder Mystery
Christian Schorn
In 2004, The Nature Conservancy began a restoration project with an ambitious goal: to restore rare, high-quality Valley Clayplain Forest to an old hayfield in southern Vermont. What happened next is an ecological mystery. You’ll be enthralled by the story of villainous invasive species and small mammal melodrama; cheer on the forces of secondary forest succession in the face of climate change; completely zone out during a discussion on soil biochemistry; meet a strange sedge with a questionable history; and find out what the “check engine” light in your car has to do with restoration ecology.

Field Walks

Ecological Restoration and Conservation Management at Burnt Mountain
Gus Goodwin 
– Conservation Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy
TNC staff will lead a tour of Calavale Brook at Burnt Mountain, TNC’s newest and largest natural area. In keeping with the theme of this year’s FNEP symposium, we’ll explore how we’re managing the property to jumpstart important ecological processes, build resilience, and minimize the impacts of prior management.  The primary focus of the tour will be on the role of instream wood and how TNC is using strategic wood additions to restore Calavale Brook, but we’ll also make time to examine an upcoming road-decommissioning project and scout out some great summertime swimming holes.

Botanical Illustration
Susan Sawyer 
– Artist/Naturalist, South Woodbury
Susan is an artist-naturalist from South Woodbury, and has been a freelance artist and teacher for over 30 years. Her particular interests include plants, insects, and all kinds of wet places – vernal pools, fens, bogs, and beaver meadows – and making art that reflects her love of nature. She’s insatiably curious, loves a puzzle, thinks observation and imagination are the beginning of both science and art, and believes in having lots of fun while learning about the natural world. Join Susan for a natural history sketching workshop at and around Highland Lodge.

Wood Turtle Habitat Identification and Management
Kiley Briggs
 – Turtle Conservation Coordinator – Orianne Society
Wood Turtles overwinter in streams, but regularly forage over 1000 feet from water, especially in floodplains. The floodplains on which the species depends, however, are heavily utilized for agriculture, and the streams the turtles frequently return to are often bordered by roads, resulting in high levels of mortality and widespread population decline. Join local herpetologist, Kiley Briggs, to visit a nearby Wood Turtle population and learn how to identify and manage habitat for the species. Finding a Wood Turtle or two is a high likelihood on this trip, but the species is extremely secretive, so it is not a guarantee. The trip entails walking across and along a shallow stream, so plan on getting your feet wet at least up to the shins.

Headwater Wetlands of the Green Mountain State
Bob Zaino & Hannah Phillips – VT Fish & Wildlife ; VT Housing & Conservation Board
Tucked into the folds and flanks of our green mountains is a patchwork of forgotten wetlands. Expansive swaths of fragile, mucky soils perch on gradual hillsides, inundated by seeping groundwater. These early-to-green wetlands are wildlife hotspots, they form the headwaters of our largest rivers, and are seldom visited by humans other than the lone forester or rambling hiker. Join us for an exploration of a Seepage Forest natural community in Steam Mill Brook Wildlife Management Area. Muckboots strongly recommended!


Registration and Lodging

Registration is now closed. Registration fees cover Saturday and Sunday activities, including Saturday lunch, Saturday dinner, and Sunday lunch. Breakfasts are included with lodging. Lodging is an additional cost.
FNEP Alumni Association members*: $75
Non-members: $105
One-day registration fee: $50
*Not a member yet? You can become a member here. If you have ever paid membership dues, you are considered a current member.

Lodging: Highland Lodge has many different lodging options, including individual rooms, shared cabins, and camping, and are available for a range of prices. You will inform us of your lodging preferences on our registration form, and Highland Lodge will bill you directly in mid-May.
Please note: Highland Lodge has a variety of rooms and cabins, each with a slightly different style, occupancy, and price. We are providing you a simplified set of lodging options, including the range of prices for each option. Unless you request otherwise, we will arrange for you the most economical rate that is available for the option you have selected.