The Field Naturalist Program
Giving Field Naturalists the tools they need to move the world
First-Year Writing Retreat
|Writing Instructor, Toby Fulwiler|
Beginning in 2004 and continuing into 2005, first-year Field Naturalists and Ecological Planners gather on ninety acres of woods and meadows in Fairfield, VT, in late summer to explore the role writing will play in both their graduate studies and professional lives.
They experiment with the many ways in which a "naturalist's journal" can help them keep track of thoughts, observations, and obligations. They examine their own habits and strategies for writing more formal papers, sharing stories about both successful and less successful writing ventures in the past. And they learn how to work together as long-term support group to help each other accomplish the many writing tasks their program will ask of them.
Some will stay overnight in the guest-house while others pitch tents, and all will share food, beverages, and stories about how come they have all come together in this oh-so-demanding and exciting program.
Second-Year Fall Writing Retreat
The second year naturalists and ecological planners assemble at the Fairfield Farm, an hour north of campus to share the stories of their summer research projects. Each will develop a topic from their technical field research to share with a lay audience in a popular publication, and each will help the others figure out the best approach and most exciting story to tell.
Students arrive Friday night in time for a pot luck cook out, the faculty providing veggie-burgers and hamburgers, the students providing salads and desserts. They spend the night in the guest-house or in tents pitched in strategic places over ninety acres of woods and meadows.
After an early Saturday morning breakfast, writers spread out with laptop computers to explore their best ideas, writing a paragraph on each to share with the group at mid-morning assembly where each reads aloud the most promising stories and listens as classmates say where they were most interested and where they would like more information.
And so the day goes, with a working lunch break, more individual composing, ending with a final sharing of best writing so far. Following the retreat, the second-year students will meet every other week to further advance these fledging drafts until a satisfying article emerges.
Second-Year Winter Writing Retreat
Sometimes, the second-year writing students vote to cancel on-campus meetings and schedule, instead, an intensive writing retreat to immerse themselves more fully and intensely in the writing of their popular article.
The setting is once again the Fairfield farm with ninety acres of woods and meadows an hour north of Burlington. Students arrive the night before to share a pot-luck supper and bonfire, then most spread out in the warm buildings—main house and guesthouse, while a practice winter camping in pitched tents.
Writing begins in earnest the following morning, with individual writers spread out in warm places throughout the buildings—unlike summer and fall retreats, outdoor writing does not seem popular. Each of the seven or eight students writes alone for a while, then shares drafts with the group, then revises and edits in response to the comments received from classmates.
Following a working lunch (bagels, cheeses, veggies, cold cuts), writers advance their texts as far as possible, hoping that only nominal editing remains before the popular article is finished. And, mostly, the work is now done.
Field Naturalist Program - Department of Plant Biology
120B Marsh Life Science Building - 109 Carrigan Drive
University of Vermont - Burlington, VT 05405
(802) 656-2930 - Lillian.Reade@uvm.edu
Last modified January 28 2008 04:53 PM