Welcome to the Natural History of Vermont

ENV 2050 / Spring / CCV

Printable syllabus for BIO 1020: Intro to Environmental Biology

“Wherever he goes, this winter, I will follow him. I will share the fear, and the exaltation, and the boredom, of the hunting life. I will follow him till my predatory human shape no longer darkens in terror the shaken kaleidoscope of colour that stains the deep fovea of his brilliant eye. My pagan head shall sink into the winter land, and there be purified.”

From The Peregrine by JA Baker


Use the section below to find due dates for assignments, readings for each weak (readings are listed on the day they are due), and lots of supplemental resources. Click the icon to the right for a printable version of the syllabus: Printable syllabus for BIO 1020: Intro to Environmental Biology

WEEK 1 | March 23, 2018

Intro to Class

Our first day we’ll spend covering the different frameworks that we’ll use for the class, reviewing the syllabus, and going over the assignments for the course.

Location: CCV Winooski
Lecture: Day 1 Overview + Frameworks, Tree ID


Help identifying animal tracks

Other resources: As general references in natural history, the following are wonderful resources

WEEK 2 | March 30, 2018

Bedrock Geology

“Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.” – Will Durant. We’ll trace the geologic history of Vermont this week, looking at the early environment when our rocks were first formed and zipping through time past the powerful continental forces that forged the Green Mountains and right up to the edge of the age of the glaciers. We’ll walk from Salmon Hole up to I-89 looking at different types of bedrock collecting evidence to tell the geologic story of Vermont.

Location: Lime Kiln
Lecture: Geology
Due today:


  • Natural History of Vermont Mountains by Nancy Bazilchuk (PDF)
  • Wetland Woodland Wildland pp58-75
  • *** Watch The History of the Earth ***

Online Resources

WEEK 3 | April 6, 2018

Glaciers + Surficial Geology

Glaciers have had a tremendous impact on both shaping the landscape but also creating the soils on which Vermont forests would grow. We’ll scour the ground looking for evidence of Vermont’s glacial history.

Location: Macrae Farm Park (Meeting at CCV @ 8:30am)
Lecture: Soils and Glaciers


Readings + Handouts:

  • Ch 9 in Written in Stone by Chet Raymo (PDF)
  • Read ch 7 in Reading the Forested Landscape
  • Read “The Laurentide Ice Sheet and its Significance” (PDF)
  • Handout: Soils


  • Boxelder
  • Silver maple
  • Staghorn sumac

Online Resources

WEEK 4 | April 13, 2018

Water + Beavers + Invasives

While natural communities can be helpful in understanding Vermont’s landscape, much of Vermont’s history is fraught with disturbances. Fires, glaciers, plowing, grazing, we’ve seen it all! We’ll look specifically at a disturbed landscapes to see primary succession in action. If we’ve got enough time, we’ll head to Colchester Bog to see an entirely different ecosystem in action.

Location: Spindle Brook
Lecture: Soils and Erosion
Handouts + Readings:
  • Wessels Ch 2 & 3

Tree Species Presentations: 

  • Silky dogwood
  • Common buckthorn
  • Speckled alder


  • VCGI (Natural Communities mapping program)
  • Slow Water Movement + ANR mapping of natural communities (link)

Help identifying trees

WEEK 5 | April 20, 2018

Old Forests + People

Our focus today will be on pieces together clues from the landscape into telling stories. We’ll look at some of the legacies from the 19th century.

Location: East Woods
Due today:


  • Wessels Ch 5 & 6

Tree Species Presentations: 

  • Eastern Hemlock
  • Yellow birch
  • White ash

Help identifying trees

WEEK 6 | October 13, 2017

Reading the Farmed Landscape: Humans on the Land

We’ll spend our time this week and next looking at how human activities impacts the natural world. This week we’ll look at farming and the process of revegetation at Wheeler Natural Area.

Location: Wheeler Natural Area (map)
Due today:

Readings + Handouts:

  • 1-24 in Time and Change in Vermont by Harold Meeks (PDF)
  • Wessels Ch 4 & 8


  • American beech
  • Red oak
  • Sugar maple

Online Resources

Suggested Readings about Abenaki and early history

  • Voice of the Dawn: An autohistory of the Abenaki Nation by Frederick Wiseman
  • The Original Vermonters by Haviland & Power
  • The Story of Vermont: A natural and cultural history by Klyza & Trombulak
  • Changes in the Land by William Cronon
  • New England Forests Through Time by David Foster

WEEK 7 | March 9, 2017

Field Final

We’ll put our skills to the test with a field final. You’ve got lots of practice interpreting landscapes. This will be an opportunity to test out your ability to go into a landscape and interpret its history. We’ll visit two locations with unique histories and see some other cool resources that help us tell the story of a landscape.
Location: My house (map)
Due today:


  • Read Ch 8 in Reading the Forested Landscape



  • Week 1 Overview (ppt)
  • Trees (ppt)
  • Bedrock (ppt)
  • Glaciers (ppt)
  • Soils (ppt)
  • Erosion (ppt)


  • Intro to trees + leaves (ppt)
  • ID by Leaf (ppt)
  • Quick guide (.doc)
Wildlife Tracking (ppt)