Team AH (Class of 2018)
- Maria Dunlavey
Maria Dunlavey grew up between two mountains on a stream called Hemlock Brook, down the road from the wood frog pond and up the trail from the clay banks. Western Massachusetts is still the landscape she knows best, but she’s found her bearings in a few others. As a geology student, she measured her way up mesas in New Mexico, mapped moraines in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, and led trips everywhere from the rim of the Grand Canyon to the floor of Death Valley. In the parched savanna of southern Kenya, she tracked a dying stream from spring to diverted spring and wondered how long its hornbills, bushbabies, and yellowbark acacias might survive their human neighbors’ struggle for a better life. As an environmental consultant in Seattle, Maria learned to view a place for its man-made story, combing through maps and old records in pursuit of polluted sites. In Montana, she searched for tiger beetles in the sandhills and pipits in the prairies, both the beneficiaries of another man-made story: that of deep-rooted ranching families and their care for the land.
Maria came to UVM to fill the gaps between these glimpses. Her passion is for the tangled tales of landscapes as a whole, in all their contradictory glory. On the trail of those stories, she’ll wade into some of the thorniest questions in conservation: What is a landscape? Where does it come from, and how does it work — and what can a Field Naturalist do to preserve it?
- Chelsea Clarke
Chelsea Clarke’s journey to the Field Naturalist Program began when she encountered a red eft while backpacking in the Green Mountains. The thrill of this discovery prompted research about efts, which took her on a detour to the FNEP website. From there Chelsea set out on yet another journey to understand and interpret the natural world.
Chelsea initially chose to pursue her love of the natural world through art. After studying printmaking at Maine College of Art, she spent the next several years roaming the country, working and adventuring from Maine to Alaska and everywhere in between. Along the way she searched for ways to use her artwork to spark red-eft-like moments of excitement, discovery, and connection with the natural world for others. Her artwork fed off her experiences traveling cross-country, working on organic farms in Downeast Maine and on wildlife tours on Prince William Sound, and designing marine biology themed t-shirts in Woods Hole.
In between meeting the red eft and arriving in Vermont, Chelsea joined a scientific research cruise off Alaska. At sea she used art and writing to help translate the science, beauty, and importance of arctic plankton to audiences back on land, in hopes of making plankton a little more exciting and preserving the Arctic a little more urgent. Now Chelsea is anxious to fill in the gaps in knowledge left by her self-guided studies and continue to pursue this combination of art, science, conservation, and outreach. Chelsea's heart has always pointed north, so Vermont seems to be the perfect place for her next adventure.
- Andy Wood
I've always been curious about animals, from the rowdy opossums living in my childhood bedroom ceiling to the flashy treetop warblers. Like the Northern parula, I grew up with one foot in Latin America and the other in New England. My family's irregular trans-American migrations stoked my curiosity for animals and the madcap lives they lead. In my work today, I draw on that curiosity and global perspective to guide my thinking.
Through my undergraduate hemming and hawing at Bates College I settled on the mission of making sure that wild animals and wild places don't disappear. Since then I've surveyed beaches for Piping Plover nests, dodged Least Tern poop-attacks, guided teenagers through the rivers and mountains of Maine and Quebec, chainsawed blowdowns on backwoods ski trails, and searched for salamanders with enthusiastic third-graders. All of these jobs reinforced my conviction that being able to "shoot the breeze" with other people is a critical field skill.
Here in the Field Naturalist Program, I'm seeking innovative ways to help people understand wildlife and manage land so plants and animals can thrive. In my spare time you'll find me crashing through the underbrush or looking for birds (and 'possums) in my backyard.
- Lynn Wolfe
Growing up on the rocky Maine coast, Lynn often found herself knee-deep in tide pools and almost always covered in mud. While studying ecology, Lynn realized that she could build a career where it was acceptable to almost always be covered in mud. She's never turned back.
After graduating from college, Lynn hopped on her bicycle, ready to try out the desert and cactus of the west coast in place of Maine's rock and pine. Reaching the Pacific, she hung up her helmet and traded in her bike cleats for footing more suitable for tide-pooling. She spent a season guiding school groups as they scampered along the rocks in search of moray eels. In Arizona's scorching heat, she planted cottonwood trees along the shores of the shrinking Colorado River. In the flood plain forests of Vermont, she trudged through streams collecting seeds and cuttings for plant propagation. Her willingness to crawl through thorn-covered shrubs was required as she searched for the elusive New England cottontail rabbit along Maine's coast. Eventually, she settled at Shelburne Farms on Lake Champlain's shores, where she raised vegetables, tapped maple trees, and developed a new sense of community. As she was exposed to the natural resource field, her urge to contribute to a greater conservation initiative grew.
As a graduate student in the Ecological Planning program, she's got her hand lens and binoculars ready to examine the flora and fauna of Vermont. And if she gets a little muddy along the way, so be it.
- Lauren Sopher
Ink and dirt have covered Lauren's hands since she was a child. Sitting at the kitchen table, markers strewn, and traipsing through Vermont's landscape, wildflowers in hand, were a classic pairing. Art and nature kindled her sense of wonder and connection to place. Lauren studied art, design, and environmental science so that she could explore the intricacies of nature from multiple perspectives: illustration, psychology, graphic design, and conservation biology.
Lauren stumbled upon welwitschia, a peculiar plant endemic to the Namib Desert, while tracking black rhinos in Namibia. She fell for plants during this study abroad experience and was catapulted into a fervent pursuit of knowledge on the topic. Lauren was also introduced to and fascinated by the country's community-based approach to conservation.
With the Green Mountains beckoning, Lauren found a way to overlap her worlds in Vermont. She hovered over botanical books and dried plant specimens at The Pringle Herbarium, and illustrated, designed, and wrote for Vermont Harvest of the Month (HOM), a statewide program connecting classrooms, cafeterias, and communities to local food. Lauren moved to the Northeast Kingdom, where she focused her lens on food access as an AmeriCorps member; she coordinated HOM, and spent time gardening and cooking with kids.
Yearning to make personal relationships central to her workday, she changed professions: supporting individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders to access their community, build meaningful social connections, and live as independently as possible. Lauren seeks to exchange place-based knowledge of the landscape with the general public, in formats that are accessible, creative, and collaborative. She will likely be singing while doing this.
Team AI (Class of 2018)
- Jason Mazurowski
One evening, while conversing with a barred owl in a black spruce swamp, I turned off my headlamp to try and call the raptor closer. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I noticed a faint green glow on the side of the trail — my first and only encounter with bioluminescent fungus. This was an important lesson on how to view the world as a naturalist. If I had left my headlamp on, I would have never seen it.
Before I could talk to owls, I learned to read rocks. Graduating from SUNY Buffalo with a B.S. in Geology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies, I left the rust belt for the Sangre de Cristos of northern New Mexico. Over the course of five summers, I dragged hundreds of teenagers into the mountains to meet marmots and smell ponderosa pines. I sent each of them home with crumpled, soggy copies of Aldo Leopold’s essay Thinking Like a Mountain.
I spent a fall season as a naturalist in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, teaching weary hikers about bogs and boreal forests. The following winter, I pursued my newfound fixation with the north woods working as a dogsled musher in the Boundary Waters. For the past couple of years, I’ve been working with native plants in southwest Montana, where I have become accustomed to long trail runs with a hand lens and a field guide.
There are stories to tell, from the mundane to the fascinating: a fly dissolving into the leaf of a sundew, wolves stalking an elk, yeast bubbling away in a fermenter. As a field naturalist I want to learn how to share these stories in compelling ways. While I’m here, maybe I’ll have a chance to catch up with that barred owl; we never did finish our conversation.
- Carolyn Loeb
When I was eight years old, my sister and I invented a language made up of claps. We employed this private communication system almost every night to play together when we should have been asleep. Around the same time, I began to listen to the sounds of spring peepers, and to wonder what they were saying. These early discoveries were two of many that eventually led me to believe that to understand the world, I would have to learn its languages – both human and ecological.
Since that time, my thirst for knowledge has taken me to far-flung places. I have bushwhacked through the forests of Panama in search of poison frogs, wrangled sheep in dew-laden Vermont pastures, and immersed myself – literally – in freshwater mussel research in Minnesota. I have walked barefoot through cold rivers of the Sierra to help middle school students ground their study of water in place, and used soccer as a conversational tool to teach English. I’ve lost my heart to various homes in the U.S., including Yosemite, Acadia, and Glacier National Parks. After living abroad in Dakar, Senegal; Sszékesfehérvár, Hungary; Frutillar, Chile; and Cayenne, French Guiana, I also think of myself as a global citizen. My native region of New England is, however, my first love.
Languages exist because of the fundamental interconnectedness of all living things. As a Field Naturalist, my goal is to better understand these “webs of life” and the consequences of disrupting them. Ultimately, I plan to use my skills to contribute to holistic resource conservation, engage in innovative land management planning, and connect other people to nature’s many voices.
- Christian Schorn
I can’t say I was much of an outdoorsy kid growing up. Science fiction held a much greater sway over my life than science did, and I spent much of my childhood immersed in other dimensions, or daydreaming up new ones. I filled my mind with categorized trivia and minutia from my favorite universes — the evolutionary lineages of Pokemon, the landscapes of Middle-Earth, the biodiversity of Star Wars. More outer space than out-of-doors.
As an undergraduate at Connecticut College, I voyaged into a new dimension: botany. As I learned to name the plants of the woodlands and wetlands around me, I began to catch glimpses of a deeper, older, and richer world. My trivia-fed brain was drawn to the elegance in plant systematics and the epic in natural history as I studied, hiked, and explored the New England landscape. It was a real world, a fantastic world, but an imperiled one — one that needed stewards and advocates. I fed my botanical appetite as I delved into molecular study as a plant science intern at the New York Botanical Garden, weeded greenhouse beds at the Connecticut College Arboretum, digitized tens of thousands of historic New England botanical specimens for the Harvard University Herbaria, and coordinated rare and endangered plant surveys for the New England Wild Flower Society.
I’m here in Vermont as a continuation of this journey, from orcs to orchids, to dedicate my life to the study of natural history and the conservation of plant life. Whether my thirteen-year-old self likes it or not, I’m (probably) not going into outer space any time soon, but I’m not bored with this world — every day in the field is a chance to explore the universe (of a black spruce bog), defend a kingdom (of plants), or just read a new story.
Last modified November 08 2017 10:22 AM