University of Vermont


Team Arisaema dracontium (Team AD – Class of 2014)

  • add alt tag Clare Crosby
    Ecological Planning

    Clare Crosby loves puzzles. She finds beauty and meaning in connecting a thousand oddly shaped bits of color into one coherent image. Though she does not have much free time for jigsaws these days, Clare finds that the world's natural systems are even more satisfying puzzles and are currently in need of creative solutions.

    Clare intends to motivate people to work with the natural world instead of against it. Born and raised in Austin, Texas, Clare migrated north to study at Middlebury College in Vermont and promptly fell in love with the local community and landscape. A course on Eating Locally, Thinking Globally piqued Clare's interest in repairing humans general attitude toward the planet and led her to major in Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology.

    Continuing on in the Sustainability Office at Middlebury after graduating, Clare helped the college carry out and spread the word about everything sustainability related from recycling Astroturf to putting local beef on the table. In addition to learning to piece bits of knowledge together into a legible landscape, Clare tries to fit in time to sing, pick guitar, put her camera to good use, move, stretch, and watch the occasional YouTube video of little kids or fluffy animals.
  • add alt tag Gus Goodwin
    Field Naturalist

    Gus Goodwin tracks in lots of dirt. It comes from all over, from surrounding mountains, nearby woods, or a good friend's farm. Looking at the floor, Gus can't tell if work or play is more responsible for the mess. And that makes him happy.

    Gus has found rewarding work in land conservation and plans to use his time in the Field Naturalist Program to gain fluency in the science that guides it. He is an avid climber, backcountry skier, backpacker, puddle stomper, and rock skipper who believes the best adventure is a shared adventure. On rainy days, he dreams of woodworking projects and schemes to gather all his far-flung friends into one place.

    Gus has lived in places with taller mountains, deeper snow, bigger trees, and fewer black flies, but something consistently tugs him back east to Vermont and the Adirondacks. He is happy to call Burlington home for the next two years, but granted a second wish he might place a 14,000-foot, glaciated volcano somewhere nearby. The first wish? A tail. Certainly a tail.
  • add alt tag Kelly Finan
    Field Naturalist
    Web site:

    As a fresh and eager college graduate, Kelly Finan began her first day of field research by crashing a four-wheeler into a sand berm in front of her new coworkers. For a moment she thought about running home to Pennsylvania and a comfortable office job, but the unbridled joy of being paid to take long walks on the beach while protecting an endangered species (green sea turtles) quickly reminded her that outdoors was where she belonged.

    For the last three years, Kelly has been happily self-employed as a scientific illustrator, known among her friends for drawing things as literal as velvet grass, as ridiculous as a tiger driving a Lamborghini, and as abstract as air. Her strong policy to never say "no" to an illustration gig has made possible her vast amount of traveling, as well as her random islands of esoteric science knowledge. In the Field Naturalist Program, she seeks to build the bridges between these islands. For more information on Kelly, her artwork, and her thoughts about natural gas activities in the Northeast please visit
  • add alt tag Laura Yayac
    Ecological Planning

    Laura Yayac forever seeks to expand her comfort zone, a goal that takes her on walks along cables strung high in the tree canopy and on backpacking trips hundreds of miles through the Appalachian Mountains. She relishes traveling to the extreme, navigating icebergs, earthquakes and new languages. She is excited to be challenged in a new way, tackling the unexplored territory of scientific names, following ions through the soil, and deciphering the landscape through natural clues.

    Laura's here to read the gaze of a Doll's Eye (Actaea pachypoda), to figure out where all those rocks come from, and to collaborate with others who confront their limits. She's passionate about teaching people to understand and love the natural world, and she has engaged children and teens in banding saw whet owls, kelp surfing, and working on local organic farms. She’s inspired to broaden her skills as a member of the Ecological Planning Program.

    Laura thrives at the intersection of environmental and human awareness and encourages people to build connections to the Earth and their neighbors. She envisions one day teaching the amazing details of the natural world while cultivating skills to create strong relationships and vibrant communities. She also intends to throw a Frisbee on every continent. One more to go!
  • add alt tag Matt Cahill
    Field Naturalist

    Matt Cahill has read thousands of times that he, as a native of the Granite State, should do only one of two things: live free or die. He is not currently interested in dying. However, living free has proved no easy feat either. Returning to Vermont after several years traveling the spines and gullies of the continent, Matt is looking for some good advice in these quiet hills.

    The last four years often saw Matt in Alaska, leading wide-eyed visitors into the open wilderness, talking about grizzlies and eating blueberries. He now wants to find the same excitement in small streams and old farm towns showing people, including himself, the beauty of nature in the most ordinary of places. Matt wakes up looking forward to munching granola, writing about trees and time, and enjoying the company of good people. Though he is trying to accept that he has no good answer to the question, "What do you want to do with your life?" with some good luck and a loaf of bread, Matt feels confident that he has at least a working definition of freedom.
  • add alt tag Matt Pierle
    Field Naturalist

    Matt Pierle can be found following the tracks of nature, culture, and language to the places where they mingle and the places they diverge. From science and technology to storytelling and mythology, he knows that these all contribute to the deeper understanding of place.

    In his upper Great Lakes biome, Matt has applied his skills to the needs of regional land conservancies, farmers, biologists, timber framers, social entrepreneurs and a Native American tribe. This integrative work often deals with interpreting natural or cultural history and ecology, documenting traditional knowledge, and working to protect unique places or threatened cultural life ways.

    In his research and teaching posts at the University of Michigan Biological Station (UMBS), Matt has more than once lost track of linear time while absorbed in investigating and sharing natural sciences, insect ecology, or ethnobotany with college students and colleagues from around the world. Away from his homelands, Matt has earned numerous fellowships catalyzing opportunities to study landscape architecture in Germany (Fulbright-Hays) and to research the social and ecological dimensions of land and resource management in northeastern Brazil (Rotary International).

    Human-powered explorations - by pedal, by paddle, and by boot - have transported Matt overland through rugged, wild, and civilized environments, from the Mountains of Patagonia to Amazonian tributaries in Guyana, from the coasts of Turkey to villages in rural Laos and many places beyond. On these journeys he has come to know the landscapes as well as the people who rely on them to meet their daily needs of food, material resources, and spiritual sustenance.

    As an ever-curious learner, Matt knows that communication and nuance matter. He spends as much time exploring the "languages" and signs of frogs, wrens, cicadas, wildflowers or other life forms as he does experiencing the topography of expressions in German, French, Turkish, Spanish, Portuguese, and Anishinaabemowin, an indigenous Algonquian language.


Team AE (Class of 2015)

  • add alt tag Colin Peacock
    Field Naturalist

    Colin Peacock’s persistent drive is his need to experience big landscapes in whatever way possible. Growing up camping and hiking the greater portion of the southwest – Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Sonora – and in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, he never felt satisfied with urban life and urbane occupations. As a result he has lived  around the world, in as various occupations as fashion photographer, private chef, beekeeper, forest ecologist, conservation biologist, and amateur rhino tipper (a word to the wise: lift from your legs not your back!).

    And though his path to the Field Naturalist Program has been wide, wandering, and largely irregular, Colin has found teaching landscape-based education to be a most fulfilling challenge. To provide convenient excuses to get into such landscapes – and to do work that requires contemplation and examination of big wilderness' –  he has especially enjoyed adventuring, and learning with, non-profits such as Round River Conservation Studies, The Whitebark Pine Citizen Science Network, and the Natural Resource Defense Council.

    In the future he hopes to keep working in the biggest, wildest places on Earth. Leading young people into the landscape, to breath deeply of them, this is the kind of work that Colin sees as good and worth doing with his one wild life.
  • add alt tag Joanne Garton
    Ecological Planning

    When Joanne was a little girl, she thought that everyone in the universe called his or her own planet "Earth." Earth was not a proper noun, but another name for home. Now grown-up, Joanne wonders about the fundamental presumptions of this thought. The first, that there are other beings in the universe who refer to their own planet in some way, she still assumes is true… somewhere. The second, that humans identify with the landscape, wildlife, and weather of home as being parts of an entire planet to which they belong, raises some important concerns.

    How have humans thought themselves out of nature? An impassioned geologist and architect of ecological design, you will find Joanne in the green nooks and crannies of our everyday lives trying to connect the fragmented pieces of nature back into the coherent design we all call Earth.
  • add alt tag Kat Deely
    Ecological Planning

    Born some years ago to a large family living between New York and the rest of New York, Kat spent her early years as a child of American Suburbia.  Her persistent (some might say nagging) ways led to an older brother taking her along on his wayward adventures in the woods. They fished and hiked, hunted spring peepers in the dark. At age 11, she was officially inducted into the world of the outdoors with her first pair of hiking boots – Merrell hiking boots, light grey with cobalt blue padding. She crammed her feet into these boots for years convinced that they too were an element of each and every journey. 

    College years came and with them, the desolation of Northern Indiana. Kat found her place at the University of Notre Dame only upon leaving to spend 6 months in Perth, Western Australia. Australia taught her the most valuable of all life lessons - work to live, don’t live to work  Jumping into a friend’s Peugeot was all it took to find a new world, a beautiful sunset, and some delicious food on a grill. After schooling wrapped up and two pieces of paper found their spot in a forgotten box of mementos, Kat began her own adventures in the woods. Working for the Student Conservation Association, she led teens and college grads alike in their discovery of the natural world, persuading them that it’s  a world worth conserving. Traversing the US a few times over - working in temperate rainforests and tropical rainforests, on active volcanoes and a lot of old granite, from the south to the north to the Mojave Desert - she wondered at all the natural world could create.  While building trails, studying fire ecology, restoring native ecosystems, and teaching the ethic of a hard day’s work  to impressionable youth and their leaders, she built an extended family with SCA. 

    Home has always been a place to seek though never really to find beyond a good book, a comfortable spot with her dog, Moose, at her side. Her persistently inquisitive ways have led Kat to find some answers, or at least another good story to read, here in Burlington, VT.

  • add alt tag Katherine Wrigley
    Ecological Planning

    Kathryn gingerly dipped her raw heals into Bear Creek. Dehydration and her new logger boots were winning. Someone had warned her that the fire guys called Redwings, 'Bloodwings,' and it was becoming all too clear why. The cold water quickly numbed the burning, open blisters and allowed her to think about putting those boots on for yet another day of hiking and clearing trail.

    Perseverance and curiosity led Kathryn to dabble in a variety of jobs as she moved cross country and back again. Climbing the trees in her hedgerow and summer hiking trips in the White Mountains exposed Kathryn to the mysteries and excitement of the natural world. She learned to wander with purpose as an employee of several trail- centric organizations most recently, the Green Mountain Club, here in Vermont. Lured by the chance to live on Camels Hump for a fall, she carved a niche at the GMC. In her basement office she hired people to live on mountains, worked with dedicated volunteers and steered the planning of a major relocation of the Long Trail in the Winooski River Valley. Still plagued regularly by blisters, Kathryn just tapes her feet and keeps on walking.

  • add alt tag Nikki Bauman
    Field Naturalist

    Nikki’s unequivocal love of water has, unlike the flow of a stream, elevated her in both geography and in academia.  From teaching marine biology in the Florida Keys to practicing interpretive outdoor science in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, she enjoys exploring what natural communities exist underwater as well as what skates above it when frozen.

    Before joining the Field Naturalist Program, Nikki advocated water quality education in her home state of North Carolina.  She was fortunate to live in the eclectic city of Asheville, nestled in the heart of the Southern Appalachian Mountains. She spent the majority of the waking hours, for both work and recreation, submerged in the third oldest river in the world—the French Broad.

    Nikki is relying on her snowboard and her southern state of mind to aid her survival through the New England winters.

    If she’s not knee deep in a creek searching for macroinvertebrates, you will most likely find her enjoying bluegrass music, Clemson football, and adventuring with her partner, Ryan, and her dog, Levon Helm.

  • add alt tag Maddy Morgan
    Ecological Planning

    Maddy is happiest when moving forward. Whether she’s on a bicycle, a plane, a car, or her own two feet, she is always on a quest for the next exciting adventure. She lived in Vancouver last year, skiing and seeing the sights, and now she is back to her native New England and the ecological planning program.  Maddy hopes that the FNEP program will make it possible for her to combine her interests into an enriching and enjoyable next step.

    Maddy loves being at home cooking, reading, and hanging out with her cat Seamus as much as she does seeing the world, meeting people, and trying new things.  She lives in the wonderful capital city of Montpelier and works part time at a bakery, making lattes and sampling the goods.
  • add alt tag Michael Blouin
    Field Naturalist

    In 2011, at a campground in New Zealand, Mike was attacked by a black swan.  It was a cold and murky morning, and the campground was deserted.   Upon returning from brushing his teeth, Mike found the bird lurking near the car, eating grass and looking generally unpleasant.  Mike approached with the forced, stiff posture of fake confidence, and – not unkindly – asked the bird to step aside.  Sensing weakness, the swan reared its ugly head, and chased Mike in circles around his car.  Finally Mike dived inside the vehicle, crushing a banana he’d left on the seat, and sped away.   This explains most of what you need to know about him.

    In his professional life, Mike has spent most of his time teaching.  From 2008 to 2011, he taught 6th grade science in Boston at a school devoted to preparing low-income students for high school and college.  Over time, the “how” of teaching became second nature – he knew where to stand, what questions to ask, how to bring students from confusion to comprehension.   But a big piece was missing: a genuine, direct connection to the world outside the classroom.   
    In 2012, Mike left the land of projectors and worksheets to teach environmental education in Yosemite National Park.  Together, he and his students braved dark caves, long hikes, and frigid streams, falling in love with Yosemite and the natural world along the way.  Still, though, Mike sought to more deeply understand and engage with nature – this eventually led him to the Field Naturalist program.

    Over the next two years, Mike hopes to develop skills to take apart places and put them back together.   He is obsessed with application, and dreams of connecting place-based understanding techniques with hands-on, real-world-relevant education.   He plans to avoid waterfowl at all costs. 
  • add alt tag Levi Old
    Field Naturalist

    Levi Old grew up along the James River in coastal southeastern Virginia. Experiencing the wild nature of this once prolific estuary provided the foundations for his passions in ecology and education. At the age of nineteen he ventured to Missoula, Montana, for the start of a new journey. Upon arrival he was quickly immersed into the lifestyle, culture, and studies that occur at the convergence of the Clark Fork, Bitterroot and Blackfoot Rivers. After being nestled in the Valley for four years, Levi embarked upon work in expeditionary education and ecology up and down the western coasts from Alaska to Argentina. This also included several winters of exploration in the wilds of the Chihuahuan Desert and Florida’s “river of grass.”

    When not in the backcountry, Levi enjoys building with earthen materials, baking, fermenting, foraging, and taking photographs. He hopes to continue to ride the line between work and play after working to get a graduate degree in his new home in the Winooski River watershed. 

Last modified October 16 2013 09:37 AM