University of Vermont

Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

ecological planning curriculum

EP class 2006

Ecological Planning Class of 2006

  • 2006 students2006 Ecological Planning and Field Naturalist Team
    Ecological Planning and Field Naturalist Class of 2006: (From left to right) Top: Chris Detwiller (EP), Ryan Owens (FN), Amanda Devine (FN), Abby Hood (EP), Charley Eiseman (FN), Bottom: Lisa Passerello (FN), Jess Mohr (EP), Bernd Heinrich (instructor)


  • Christopher Detwiller Christopher Detwiller
    Chris is a graduate of Skidmore College, where he majored in Geology with a minor in Environmental Studies. During his time there he traveled west to study the geology of national parks in Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and Alberta, Canada. In his junior year, he spent a semester at the School for Field Studies' Center for Coastal Studies in Baja California Sur, Mexico. There he performed research on anthropogenic effects on aquatic species, in addition to studying the ecological, social, and economic aspects of environmental conservation.

    After receiving his degree, he returned to the Center for Coastal Studies, where he performed research on water quality, analysis of shrimp populations and net type comparison, gray whale ecotourism, and sea turtle conservation. He also spent two months backpacking throughout Mexico, including a month in Oaxaca, where he worked on perfecting his Spanish in an immersion course. Throughout his travels he continually fell in love with all of the country's natural beauty and rich culture.

    Most recently he was trained and certified as a fisheries observer for the National Marine Fisheries Service, where he worked on commercial fishing boats collecting data to inform fisheries management decisions. His time working as a conservationist alongside fishermen and other people that rely upon natural resources for their survival led him to realize the need for building bridges between people on different sides of environmental issues. His dedication to building these bridges and passion for the natural world led him to the Ecological Planning program at UVM.


  • Abby HoodAbby Hood
    Abby likes to attribute her passion for the natural world to a particular chipmunk from upstate New York. As a little kid, Abby kept its larder well-stocked with sunflower seeds in exchange for her first up-close encounters with wildlife. They would not be the last. Years later, when she was in high school, Abby landed a job at a wildlife park, where she reared orphaned moose and fisher, as well as armloads of other mammals and birds. She went to Mount Holyoke College, where she majored in biology, focusing on wildlife and ecology. A semester in Kenya, spent studying wildlife management, opened her eyes to the social and political complexities of conservation and led her to abandon her study of French in order to design a minor in Environmental Politics and Policy. She completed a thesis on genetic variability in the northern pitcher plant, graduating summa cum laude in 1999.

    Abby's first job after college brought her to the Virgin Islands, where she walked moonlit beaches night after night, studying nesting hawksbill sea turtles. As exciting as the work was, Abby spent the next summer walking Vermont's Long Trail and then working as a backcountry caretaker, occupying herself by watching newts and juncos, moose and broad-winged hawks. When the hawks migrated, so did Abby, and she ended up in Florida earning her living rehabilitating injured birds and spending her free time assisting with the care of an orphaned pygmy sperm whale. A year later she was back to the mountains of Vermont, working with raptors. Abby's work as a rehabilitator, though fulfilling on many levels, left her wanting for a more integrative, holistic, and effectual approach to environmental problem solving. It left her sure that only by crossing boundaries and melding disciplines could real change be achieved.

    After leaving the field of rehabilitation, Abby spent another pensive season as a Long Trail caretaker. It was during these months that, blessed with ample solitude and a beautifully wild home to explore, Abby discovered she could no longer tolerate not learning everything she could about the natural systems around her. She sought to understand wildlife and humans in the context of their shared environment. She found the Ecological Planning program and has been happily crossing boundaries and melding disciplines ever since.


  • Jesse MohrJesse Mohr
    Jess's formative years were spent working the family's 185-acre farm in upstate New York. Living and functioning within this complex interface of the managed and natural worlds prompted existential wonderings and considerations, such as how do we, as humans, fit into the ecosystem? How can our needs for survival be balanced with the needs of our native flora and fauna? These were questions Jess carried with him to the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where his studies primarily focused on applied Forest Ecology.

    While passionate about forest activism, Jess came to realize that long-term preservation of our forested landscape could benefit from an integrated package of forest activism and responsible forest management. Following this line of thinking, Jess devoted his remaining studies to application-based programs, such as Sustainable Forestry and Ecosystem Management.

    During a three-year hiatus from Evergreen, Jess took time to explore the beauty of the Pacific Northwest but, as finances dwindled, he found himself hiring on as a Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) supervisor. As WCC supervisor, Jess witnessed first-hand the implementation successes, failures, difficulties, and economics of fire, wetland, trail, and salmon restoration projects.

    After finishing his degree, Jess was hired as Evergreen's first Restoration Coordinator. Grappling with the many complex issues of managing an 1100-acre recreation and research forest is challenging enough, but Jess found that appeasing the often ill-informed, reactionary student body to be physically, and especially emotionally, distressing. While he was able to draft and implement a recreation management plan, Jess found himself with more questions than answers.

    The natural and human worlds are complex in their own rights. When these two worlds collide, the complexities grow exponentially. The desire to balance human needs with the perpetuation of healthy and functional ecosystems—and to find his own place within this interface—has led Jess to the Ecological Planning program at UVM.

Last modified October 07 2009 09:22 AM

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