2017 FNEP Symposium

Thank you to all who participated in the:

The 21st Century Field Naturalist Symposium:

Uniting Science, Culture, and Conservation

What skills do Field Naturalists and Ecological Planners need to solve the conservation challenges of today and of the future? What current issues in conservation are we uniquely positioned to address? On May 5th, 2017, Field Naturalists, Ecological Planners, and conservation professionals near and far converged to connect, collaborate, and celebrate. Check out the video highlights of the Symposium below!

Introduction and Welcome PresentationsVIDEO

Renowned faculty and alum from the Field Naturalist community ground us in the FNEP world of science, storytelling, and resource management with a look at what matters most to this community then and now.

Introductory remarks by Dr. Dave Barrington, Plant Biology Department Chair, UVM and Dr. Kimberly Wallin, Interim Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs, Rubenstein School for Environment and Natural Resources, UVM.

Featured Presenters:
Alicia Daniel | Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront’s City Naturalist
Bryan Pfeiffer | Freelance writer, naturalist, and educator
Brett Engstrom | Consulting ecologist

Notes From the Field

Fast-paced presentations about relevant, challenging, or outside-the-box conservation topics from around New England.

Jens Hilke | Vermont Dept. of Fish and Wildlife | VIDEO
Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department and Agency of Transportation have partnered together on projects to mitigate the impacts of roads on wildlife for several decades. Our early efforts at structural connectivity modeling and facilitating wildlife movement focused on linear pathways and forest block to forest block connections where they were bisected by a road. Since then, both organizations have joined the Staying Connected Initiative, a multi-scaled, multifaceted approach to connecting habitat across the Northern Appalachian Acadian ecoregion. Now, partners in conservation science, land protection, road barrier mitigation, policy advocacy and public outreach coordinate to find new efficiencies. New conservation science from the Nature Conservancy and Vermont Agency of Natural Resources BioFinder has further fueled a change in perspective as the importance of connecting to both riparian areas and areas of diversity in the physical landscape are more clear as a strategy for climate resilience. Recent field work focuses on functional connectivity, relying on roadside tracking and camera traps at bridges and culverts to better understand where in actuality various species cross under or over roads. Today, our view of habitat connectivity is shaped by these ideas and shows an interconnected network of lands and waters across the region.

Keith Thompson | Vermont Dept. of Forests, Parks & Recreation | VIDEO
The Current Use program has been around for almost 40 years. Currently, nearly 15,000 landowners with nearly 2,000,000 acres of forestland are enrolled in the program. This is half of the eligible land in the state. Landowners get a significant tax benefit and all of them have a forest management plan that they need to adhere to. With such a large portion of the state in the program it presents great opportunities while posing some challenges to conservation in the state. This discussion will introduce the intent, mechanics, and requirements of the program to help people understand what program considerations may be important when advancing conservation efforts in Vermont.

Rose Paul & Gus Goodwin | The Nature Conservancy – Vermont | VIDEO
Prior to the arrival of Dutch Elm Disease, the American elm was once the biggest, most abundant, and longest lived tree on our northern floodplains. Now, it rarely survives to maturity, leaving an important ecological niche unfilled. The Nature Conservancy, along with the US Forest Service, is working to change that. Thousands of experimental elms, containing the genetics from over 80 survivor elms are being planted in floodplains across northern Vermont and New Hampshire. It’s an ambitious project whose goals include improving floodplain function, enhancing resilience of floodplain forests through restoration of native diversity, and the return of a beloved species. Our question: How can we scale-up the spread of these trees throughout the landscape so they can spread their cool genes around?

Teage O’Connor | Crow’s Path | VIDEO
When Crow’s Path opened its doors in 2010, our mission read: “To connect people of all ages to the natural world through hands on experiences.” But over the years our organization has evolved, morphed, and adapted as we’ve hit different roadblocks, discovered new challenges, and confronted assumptions and dogmas in the Nature Connection movement. As we enter adolescence, our mission might better read: “To connect people to wildness.” Journey through the inner workings of a nature connection program trying to ward off the tide of dogma and find wildness in a domestic world.

Conservation Working Groups

Focused problem-solving sessions tackling a range of current challenges presented by regional conservation leaders.

See the VIDEO of Working Group Summaries.

Closing Remarks

The Future of the Field Naturalist & Ecological Planning Program, featuring Walter Poleman, Jeffrey Hughes, and Deane Wang. See the VIDEO.