WEEK 1 | September 6, 2019

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. We’ll head into the field and learn the basics of tree ID.

Location: CCV Winooski
Lecture: Day 1 Overview + Frameworks 


Help identifying trees

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

WEEK 2 | September 13, 2019

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: Salmon Hole up to Lime Kiln
Lecture: Geology
Due today:



  • None

Online Resources

WEEK 3 | September 20, 2019

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: Shelburne Bay + LaPlatte Nature Area (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
  • Watch one of the following


  • Red maple
  • Common buckthorn
  • Basswood

Online Resources

WEEK 4 | September 27, 2019

Unnatural Communities: Disturbance + Trees

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: Macrae Farm Park + Colchester Bog
Lecture: Soils and Erosion
Handouts + Readings:
  • Read Wetland Woodland Wildland pp. 58-85

Tree Species Presentations: 

  • Boxelder
  • Staghorn sumac
  • Quaking aspen
  • Silver maple


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

Help identifying trees

WEEK 5 | October 4, 2019

Reading the Landscape

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:

Tree Species Presentations: 

  • Yellow birch
  • Paper birch
  • American beech

Help identifying trees

WEEK 6 | October 11, 2019

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)


  • Sugar maple
  • Black locust
  • Eastern redcedar
  • Red oak
  • Eastern hemlock

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 | October 18, 2019

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