Master Naturalist Program Goes Statewide
BPRW Field Naturalist Alicia Daniel is excited to announce the creation of the Vermont Master Naturalist Program (VMN) with the goal of bringing the success of the Master Naturalist BTV Program to other towns in Vermont.
“Burlington Parks Recreation and Waterfront and Land Steward Dan Cahill have really created conservation programming of the highest quality with the Master Naturalist BTV initiative. I am excited to take this training into other towns,” Daniel said.
This spring Daniel will be collaborating with Master Naturalist Chuck Hulse to design and implement a Vermont Master Naturalist pilot project in South Hero.
“Chuck and I have shared a dream for over a year to help the people of South Hero connect to the place where they live and use that knowledge to help conserve the natural beauty of the islands. Creating an Island Master Naturalist Program was one of the first things we talked about when Chuck agreed to be a Master Naturalist in Burlington,” Daniel said.
VMN-South Hero will get underway in March of 2018 with a field trip to Fisk Quarry to start exploring the geology and natural communities of the island.
The mission of the Vermont Master Naturalist Program pilot project is to create a close-knit team of naturalists with specific training in South Hero’s natural history across the earth, life and social sciences. Candidates will then partner with organizations to implement high priority projects on conservation lands.
Through a series of field trips to key natural areas, VMN-South Hero candidates will explore the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events that have created the landscapes seen in South Hero today. Candidates will spend time on each site reviewing the geology, soils, plants and animals (natural communities), human land use history, and signs of processes like wind, fire, or deer browse. Leaders will also discuss the conservation history and management issues relevant for each site. While the focus of the training will be on the exchange of information, participants are invited to enter each of these places with an open heart, enjoying the beauty and a connection to nature that has drawn the group together.
“Our goal is to take the state of the art training used in the UVM Field Naturalist Program and take it to the citizens of Vermont. It will ultimately create a community of naturalist who deeply understand the natural history of their town,” said Daniel. Ultimately, VMN plans to connect Vermont towns to each other through a network of active naturalists.
Alicia Daniel, VMN Founder, and Chuck Hulse, VMN-South Hero project coordinator, are currently seeking islands partners to help identify program participants, sponsor conservation projects, and locate matching funding for the training. VMN is also in convening UVM Field Naturalist graduates in Richmond with plans to launch a program there in the fall of 2018. If you have any interest in these initiatives or would like to suggest the next town for VMN trainings, you can contact the VMN Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Head Master Naturalists
Walking through the forest without knowing how to read the landscape is like walking through a library without knowing how to read a book. Places record their histories in rock formations and soil horizons, in tree rings and cut stumps, in stonewalls and cellar holes, deer browse and beaver chew. At UVM for the past 27 years, Alicia Daniel has guided undergraduate and graduate students as they solve forest mysteries. Students record their findings in field journals, maps, photos and sketches. Forest ecologist Tom Wessels wrote, “To develop intimacy with people it is necessary to understand their history; the same holds true for developing an intimate relationship with place.” Through her teaching, Alicia helps students cultivate an intimate understanding of the natural world. Alicia also has a new position as the Field Naturalist for the City of Burlington working at BPRW in conservation education, reforestation, and managing forested parks for wildlife and plant diversity. She is excited to be launching the Vermont Master Naturalist Program and continuing the Master Naturalist BTV Program for a second year.
Chuck Hulse, a former biochemist and a retired family physician, completed a master naturalist certificate from Cornell University’s Conservation Education and Research Program. He recently became a Vermont Plant Conservation Volunteer for the New England Plant Conservation Program. He is interested in the health benefits of being in nature and the medicinal biochemistry of natural products. He maintains a photoblog (ChamplainIslandsNature.blogspot.com) highlighting the nature of the Champlain Islands. As a Burlington Master Naturalist, he is helping to develop master naturalist training programs for communities around the Burlington area.