Watercolor by Claire Dacey.  Click to view more. PLACE
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The PLACE Program is a collaborative offering of the University of Vermont and Shelburne Farms. The PLACE Program's official home at UVM is the Natural Areas Center, whose mission is to provide educational opportunities, research support, professional development, and outreach services to the University community and beyond concerning the protection and management of natural areas and other conservation lands. Using the Natural Areas Center as a base, PLACE channels expertise from various UVM units (i.e., Geology, Geography, Botany, School of Natural Resources, Anthropology, History, Center for Teaching and Learning) into developing the curriculum and resource materials for each town. Graduate and undergraduate students at UVM are actively engaged in developing program resources.

Shelburne Farms is a nonprofit environmental education center, 1,400-acre working farm and National Historic Landmark located in Shelburne, Vermont. UVM works closely with Shelburne Farms to administer and develop the curriculum for the PLACE Program. Shelburne Farms' mission is to "cultivate a conservation ethic by teaching and demonstrating the stewardship of natural and agricultural resources," and is recognized internationally as a leader in professional development for teachers. The education staff from Shelburne Farms plays a lead role in training local teachers to utilize the town's working landscapes and natural areas in their classes.

A critical third member of the PLACE planning team is the local sponsor, usually the town conservation commission. Two of the primary functions of town conservation commissions are to advise town government on natural resource conservation issues and to provide educational experiences that foster a positive relationship between residents and their environment. In a sense, the purpose of the PLACE program is to help conservation commissions achieve these goals. Having the active involvement of conservation commission members also helps establish relationships with other key town entities (schools, library, land trust, historical society) whose participation is fundamental to the success of the program. They can also provide important links to landowners that might be willing to host course field trips.

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