Team AF (Class of 2016)
- Ben Lemmond
I was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on an unseasonably warm second day of February, making me an Aquarian groundhog. Perhaps it's no surprise, then, that I have always had a strong affinity with water and a knack for sleeping in. Charlotte has no waterfront, so a house next to a water tower had to do. (I've only lived in one other house in Charlotte, also next to a water tower.) College took me to Olympia, Washington, where I biked to school in the rain more often than not, through some of the most beautiful (if soggy) landscape I've ever seen. Indian monsoons are no joke, either: I lived in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, for a year after college, writing grants for a classical Indian arts academy that used the arts as a catalyst for social change. I've also been an independent web and graphic designer, done some hard time in the vegan culinary scene, banded birds in Oregon and Mexico, and briefly crewed on a tall ship for college credit (read: explained the nuances of hard tack to third graders while dressed in period costume).
It's easy to fill this story with flashy details, but harder to say they add up to who I am. What I do know about myself is that I've always had dual orbits in very different worlds, even before I discovered the pleasure of translating between them. Case in point: as a flaxen-haired child of the '90s, I was equal parts dewy-eyed nature mystic and devout idolizer of the grunge/punk supernovae of the day. Maybe my nature side has gotten a lot more academic and my counter-cultural hero portfolio has diversified, but even as a demi-adult in this graduate program, I'd say I'm doing a pretty good job of staying true to my kid-self. At this point, I'm pretty content to adopt that as a metric for all of my successes.
- Emma Stuhl
Except for that year when I was afraid of rabid raccoons, I spent my childhood frolicking through backyards and playgrounds. When I left home for college, I discovered backpacking, met salamanders and learned loads about dirt. I was hooked. Since then, I have sought out opportunities to understand what is happening around me and to share that knowledge with others. This quest led me to teach environmental education across New England and in Wyoming, and to farm organically in the hills of the Berkshires. I filled my summers with swimming holes, vistas, and only one bear encounter as I instructed wilderness trips in the White and Mahoosuc Mountains. Here in Vermont, I hope to find ways to share my love and understanding of natural systems with people in a positive, impactful way.
In my free time, you can find me playing outside, cooking beautiful vegetables, or eating meals with friends. I especially appreciate bicycling, running, and cross country skiing. Inside or out, I love to dance and eat cheese, usually at separate times.
- Jessica Griffen
I promised myself that if I returned from my first winter backpacking expedition alive with all my digits, I would never hike in the winter again. A month later, I climbed to the icy summit of Vermont's Camel's Hump. This did not surprise my mom. She'll tell you that as a child, I spent countless hours in the snow in my pink snowsuit, and I never wanted to come inside.
In college, I majored in linguistics as a means of studying everything at once: languages, literature, science, and history. In New Zealand, while researching plant names in an ancient Polynesian language, I found myself more interested in exploring the mountains than working alone at my desk. During my senior year, ecology was a revelation: academics, outside! A few classes whetted my appetite, but my ecology education felt incomplete. After graduating, I managed a rustic lodge in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where I learned basic plumbing, how to run a kitchen and how to motivate a team. My passion for sustainable food began there. I followed my stomach to a small dairy in New Hampshire, then to France, where I taught college students French in the gastronomic capital Lyon. Eager to make delicious and sustainably grown food accessible to all people, I moved to the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to coordinate a local food hub. I spent as much of my free time there on cross-country skis as possible. These days, fulfilling my childhood dream of staying out in the snow, I am grateful to be a full-time student of the outdoors.
- Sam Talbot
While working on a Student Conservation Association trail crew several years ago, I always found time between tool sharpening and dinner to sneak off for some fishing. These clandestine excursions would often result in little or no fish to report. Nevertheless, any time spent doing what you love is time well spent. This principle remained true to me as I developed a professional life involving conservation, working lands, and people.
Before building and maintaining trails with the SCA, I followed a migration pattern that led me through western Massachusetts, along the scenic Connecticut River corridor from my hometown of Westfield to university in Amherst. My experience in Massachusetts culminated in Shelburne Falls, where I would have an opportunity to get a sense of the strong connection between people and land. Over three years, I worked alongside a wonderful group of folks at the Franklin Land Trust. During this time, I viewed the landscape through maps, deeds, conversations with landowners, and hours of fieldwork as a land steward. Little did I know that my experience of well-orchestrated Easter egg hunts as a child would pay off while searching for corner pins on 300-acre parcels.
The most recent leg of my journey continues much farther north to begin a new adventure here in Burlington, Vermont. Although my travels have brought me all over the country, my deep roots remain in the rocky glacial till of the New England soil. There are many places to explore, but I remember to always leave time for fishing, wood carving, and the occasional motorcycle repair.
- Shelby Perry
Born in the Green Mountains and educated in the Adirondacks, I spent my formative years playing in the mountains. For as long as I can remember, I have preferred the outdoors to in. I graduated in the class of 2008 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in environmental engineering and set out on a journey that, after many twists and turns and about a dozen odd-jobs, would find me here.
I live my life always in search of my next Great Adventure, and have so far been evacuated from a Peace Corps term in West Africa, hiked stream corridors in Lake Tahoe for a summer, worked the front desk of a small hotel in the US Virgin Islands during hurricane season, and spent two summers rambling through (and documenting) the wilderness quality lands in the little-known Red Desert of southern Wyoming. While in Wyoming, I began my hunt for a graduate program with built-in adventure (not to mention copious outside time), and when I found the Field Naturalist program I knew it was the one.
- Sonia DeYoung
In high school, I saw a documentary about Jane Goodall at the Boston Museum of Science. Halfway through I whispered to my best friend, "This is what I'm going to do with my life." I couldn't wait to get out of Massachusetts and embark on a career as a world-traveling zoologist. It might have sent me into a swoon if someone had told me that over the next decade I would chase tarsiers through the Indonesian jungle, ski after wolves in the Rockies, sketch elephant ears in the South African veldt and record bird songs in the Everglades, count bald eagles flying over the high desert of California and scan the cliffs of the Rio Grande for peregrine falcon eyries. Volunteering overseas in college led to interning with the Student Conservation Association after college. Finally the National Park Service hired me to work on the wildlife research crew at Grand Teton National Park, where I spent two of the happiest years of my life.
I always knew I wanted to return to New England, though. This leafy, rolling landscape dotted with old towns held onto my heart wherever else I went, no matter how spectacular. Somewhere along the way I also decided that as much as I love wildlife, I need to understand the big picture. Without soil, water, and plants – in short, the land – how would the animals live, after all? As I fill in these holes in my knowledge over the next two years, I hope I'll also find time to write some letters, make some crafts, and read a few novels.
- Glenn Etter
Glenn has a Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from UC-Berkeley and is serving as a sort of "experimental post-doc" participant in the Field Naturalist Program. He is also researching outdoor education programs in Vermont and elsewhere, with the goal of developing his own curriculum for kids and adults.
Before coming to UVM, Glenn Etter spent more than ten seasons working as a whitewater rafting guide in California and Oregon. He eventually decided to learn something about the plants and animals he observed every day, when he wasn't too frightened or distracted.
Glenn also spent years studying and performing improvisational theater in San Francisco. He enjoys joking around, sometimes to his detriment, and he enjoys leading workshops on improvisation, creativity, and collaboration.
Last modified August 24 2015 08:28 AM