Team AE (Class of 2015)
- Joanne Garton
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.
- Kat Deely
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.
- Kathryn Wrigley
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.
- Nikki Bauman
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.
- Maddy Morgan
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.
- Michael Blouin
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.
- Levi Old
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.
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 my 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 and 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 early twentieth-century novels.
Last modified October 11 2014 05:33 PM