Welcome to the Natural History of Vermont

ENV 2050 / Summer Intensive / CCV

“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

Pre-class | July 6, 2018

Because the class is an intensive, there are a few assignments and readings that you’ll need to do by Friday, July 6 in order to be prepared for the class.


  • Tourist Test: please read the instructions. Do this before doing any of the readings, bring to class on Monday, July 9
  • Tree species profile: Due by email 4pm on July 6
    • Sign up for your trees to profile here

Read the following by July 9, 2018: 

  • Wetland Woodland Wildland (pp 1-28, 36-43, 58-81)
  • Reading the Forested Landscape by Tom Wessels (Introduction + Ch 1-7)

Help identifying trees

Day 1 | July 9, 2018

Intro to Class + Hazards + Bedrock Geology

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 out into the field to look at bedrock in a couple of different places in the islands. We’ll visit a cave and see lots of fossils!! And of course we’ll talk about hazards of being in the field (like mosquitos, poison ivy, and ticks). I strongly suggest wearing a light long-sleeve layer and pants to keep away mosquitoes.

Location: We will meet at CCV in Winooski and then head to + Chazy Reef + Lamoille Cave (see map below for field sites)

Read for today:

  • Natural History of Vermont Mountains by Nancy Bazilchuk (PDF)


Assignments Due Today:

  • Tourist Test
  • Tree Species Profile (You will choose 2 species from this list to write profiles on; you will be presenting on one of them)

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

Day 2 | July 10, 2018

Soils + Hydrology

We’ll look today at the stuff pasted down on top of the bedrock: till, sands, silts, and clays.

Location: CCV Winooski, Casavant, East Woods,

Presentations for today:

  • Quaking aspen
  • Silver maple
  • Red oak

Read for today:

  • Read “The Laurentide Ice Sheet and its Significance (PDF)
  • Ch 9 in Written in Stone by Chet Raymo (PDF)


Online Resources

Week 3 | July 11, 2018

Trees + Natural Communities

Okay – so what grows on top of all those rocks and sands and silts and clays? And how do we identify them? Today we’ll focus on trees and how they serve as indicators of disturbances, soils, and water.

Location: LaPlatte River + Shelburne Bay

Presentations for today:

  • Red cedar
  • Hemlock
  • Sycamore
  • White cedar

Read for today:

  • None

Help identifying trees


Day 4 | July 12, 2018

Natural Communities

Take all those trees and lump them together again and again and again and you’ve got yourself a natural community!

Location: My Neighbors’ Woods (Richmond)

Presentations for today:

  • Sugar maple
  • White ash
  • Beech
  • White pine

Read for today:

  • Skim My Neighbor’s Woods (PDF)


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

Day 5 | July 13, 2018

Humans + Disturbance

Our last day together is here already!! We’ll look at human disturbances to tease out how humans influence natural landscapes and what plants thrive in these types of conditions. We’ll test out our landscape interpretation skills

Location: Centennial Woods on Patchen Rd (map)

Tree Species Presentations: 

  • Norway maple
  • Red maple
  • White oak

Due Today:

Read for today:

  •  1-24 in Time and Change in Vermont by Harold Meeks (PDF)

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

Post-Class | July 20, 2018

Trees + Uplands

Well that just flew by. Okay – now it’s time to make this (even more) relevant. Your final write-up will be a site analysis of a site near and dear to your heart (and back door). Read the handout for the type of area you should select and what your write up should include.

Due July 20:

  • Site Analysis

Examples (these are from previous classes; the site analysis assignment may have been different from the one you will be completing so use as a rough guide):


  • Overview (ppt)
  • Overview cont’d (ppt)
  • Natural Communities (ppt)
  • Trees (ppt)
  • Bedrock geology (ppt)
  • Soils (ppt)
  • Humans (ppt)


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