Click through the images to see articles from the 2022 edition of  Field Notes.

2022 Edition of Field Notes: Hope Through Agency and Action


About Field Notes

No environmental professional succeeds without the force of the written word. Among conservationists and biologists, writing is a tool no less essential than a map or a hand lens or a great idea. In our program, we write site assessments and academic reflections, professional reports and news releases, magazine and journal articles, blog posts and web pages. We write to educate, entertain, motivate, or inspire. Every year we present insights from life and work outdoors in Field Notes — the proceedings of the Field Naturalist Program. In creating the magazine, students learn the essentials of publishing and public communications. Featured in these essays and news items might be intimate encounters with birds in the Maine woods or with orchids in Costa Rica, a report on beavers changing a stream course in Burlington or on smart phones changing how we experience nature. Produced entirely by students, Field Notes includes rich illustrations, vivid photographs, updates on student projects, and other breaking news from our program. It is required reading for alumni, prospective students, and anyone who wants to learn more about the natural world we share. Painting by Claire Dacey '03 (Cohort S3)


Editors' Note – Volume 34

What’s Burning for You?

April — boxelders dangle yellow-green tassels over wet woods.  The last stragglers of the amphibian migration (often with help from their human allies) cross rainy roads to find their mates; peregrine falcons swoop above Lone Rock Point, guarding their nests. Queen bumblebees, miner bees, and cellophane bees are on the wing.

We of Field Naturalist Cohort AL have been as busy as those early bees. From preparing conservation tools and site assessments for local organizations and municipal agencies, to teaching, TAing, and leading public workshops, to preparing for field work in sites ranging from the city of Montpelier to the sagebrush sea, we’ve learned what FNEP alums mean when they talk about needing moxie in this field. As a team of five and as members of the much larger naturalist community, it sometimes feels as if we never sit still.

It was just 20ºF one December morning when the five of us, ensconced in our sleeping bags, gathered around a table to choose the theme for this issue. Our writing instructor, Josh Brown, supplied the front porch — and the coffee. As a light snow fell on the streets of Burlington, we put forth ideas: identity, hope, rewilding, ritual, release. A lot to cover, as usual. We needed one element to merge these early thoughts together.

Having all experienced the ecological grief, as well as the joy, that can come with being a naturalist, we realized that as readers we often craved something tangible to put the fire back into us. It was around our need to see and do the work of conservation that all of our curiosities coalesced. We had found our theme: hope through agency and action. 

Each of the pieces in this year’s edition approaches this theme through a different lens. If despair looms, maybe it’s time to try your hand at constructing a bat box. If the theme of extinction weighs heavy, consider planting a native tree in your yard. We hope you find reasons to crawl along the ground, scour the bottoms of vernal pools, stare into tree tops, and ultimately find actions that make a meaningful difference in your life and for the future of the planet.

We would like to end this note by appreciating the constant inspiration of our community. When surrounded by field naturalists, curiosity, wonder, determination, and optimism reign. It is this community that brings us the daily, weekly, monthly, and annual doses of hope that sustain us.

Happy reading,

Charlotte Cadow  & Hayley Kolding (Cohort AL '23)

Cohort AL in a field at Shelburne Farms.

Cohort AL '23 in their natural habitat. (L to R: Charlotte Cadow, Sonya Kaufman, Dylan O'Leary, Erica Hample, Hayley Kolding)


Tree Skirt Moss

Photograph of Janice Harrington.

Self-Organization: A Scientific Model for Community Resiliency

Photograph of Tom Wessels.

Lillian "Porky" Reade

Monarch butterfly emerging.

Alicia Daniel, Cathy Paris, Sarah Goodrich & Walter Poleman

For 30 years, walking into the Botany Office meant you would be greeted by name...

Notes from the Field

Hot dot lichen on a rock.

A Grandmother's Discussion for Hope With Her Granddaughter

Judy Dow in her kitchen.

Good Earth Stewardship: An Interview with Doug Tallamy

Photograph of Charlotte in the field.

In Praise of Edges

Photograph of Liz Thompson.

An Offering of Hope

Photograph of Lesley-Ann.