University of Vermont

Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources

ecological planning curriculum

EP class 2013

Ecological Planning Class of 2013

    2013 Ecological Planning and Field Naturalist Team

2013 FN and EP students

Left to Right: Liz Brownlee, Ryan Morra, Claire Polfus, Connor Stedman, Becky Cushing, Sophie Mazowita, (Robin Orr-visiting), Nancy Olmstead, Carly Brown



  • Ryan Morra Ryan Morra

    At first glance the path I took to the Ecological Planning program may seem long, winding, and puzzling, but in my head and heart it all makes perfect sense. I spent the bulk of my adolescence wanting to be a poor bohemian actor in New York City. But after deferring from a B.F.A program in acting to enter AmeriCorps*NCCC, I ended up spending three and a half years working throughout the country on a variety of service projects that spawned a passion for conservation and education. Once I decided on a path for my studies, I ventured to Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina for my B.S. in Biology. There, I deepened my knowledge of environmental issues while also working for our college’s small-scale sustainable forestry operation as a logger and sawmill operator. It was during one fateful summer break that I headed to Vermont (with native Vermonter roommate) to work as a backcountry caretaker with the Green Mountain Club. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the mountains and culture of Green Mountain State. The Greens would wait a few years, though, as I headed to the Rockies after graduation to teach at Eagle Rock School in Estes Park, Colorado where I received my teaching license in secondary science education. After a challenging and rewarding year of teaching, I succumbed to the travel bug and set forth on a whirlwind of adventures ranging from backpacking and canoeing through the American West, climbing volcanoes in Central America, mountaineering in Patagonia Chile, raising pigs on a farm in Tuscany, Italy, and just plain wandering through Southeast Asia. All the while, I interspersed working with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps and in the Montpelier school system to refuel between my adventures. I am now delighted to be digging my heels into Vermont, in a community where I can explore many facets of conservation and increase my knowledge of Vermont’s natural history through the Field Naturalist & Ecological Planning programs. I also look forward to cooking more meals at home, growing food, riding my bicycles to my heart's content, and enjoying sunsets over the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.



  • Claire Polfus Claire Polfus

    A day that includes skiing, eating, coffee, friends and family, my dog Raven and cool animals is a good day for me. In fact, those are generally the largest factors in any decision I make. This decision-making rubric has led me to school at Middlebury College in Vermont, field work in Alaska, British Columbia, Wyoming, Montana and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and winters in Yosemite and Montana. Add a few trips home to northern Wisconsin, some work in the woods with my dad in Michigan, and a raft trip down the Grand Canyon, and that describes my life since high school. Through all this I have learned that grasses are actually pretty cool, caribou have a predilection toward inspiring scenery, nesting sage grouse are buggers to find, and there are a lot of singing birds in the upper Midwest. Also, I have come to believe that scientific inquiry is our greatest tool for understanding the world, and that learning about our world combats the anthropocentric perspective common in our society. In the Ecological Planning Program I would like to learn to encourage logical scientific thought for people who do not realize the complexity of the world around us.


  • Connor Stedman Connor Stedman

    I grew up in the rivers and hills of eastern New England, the streams and fields of the Maryland piedmont, and the mountains and steppes of Washington state and northern Idaho.  Wilderness experiences in my teens ignited my passion for traditional skills: awareness, tracking, survival, wildcrafting, and a lot more.  In the 10 years since then I've been on a journey of deepening nature awareness and nature-based mentoring; practicing regenerative agriculture and forest gardening; growing as a permaculture designer and teacher; and learning about ecological and social/cultural healing and leadership. 

    Professionally, I'm really stoked about agroforestry, traditional land use, fire ecology and prescribed burning, the prairie-savanna-woodland continuum, and keystone animals.  (I write about this sort of thing on my blog, renewingthecommons.wordpress.com.)  I also have a big interest in effective communication and group process, eco-social entrepreneurship, and designing and facilitating transformational experiences.   Personally I like singing, dancing, hunting, fishing, propagating plants, connecting with people, and having adventures.  

    My goals for the Ecological Planning program are to be a fully healthy and alive human being, to learn a lot more about landscape tracking and ecological restoration, and to grow as a writer/speaker/storyteller who can connect people to a hopeful vision for the future.


Last modified October 27 2012 12:36 AM

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