Vermont’s Natural History Details

Who: K-12 educators and naturalists of all abilities (open to the public as well). There are no prerequisite skills required for the course. Participants should expect some light hiking, off trail exploration, and canoeing.
When: July 18 – 22, 2022, 8:30am-4:30pm
Where: Burlington, VT with field trips to nearby natural areas
Cost: $650, includes lunch, resource packet, and a copy of Wetland, Woodland, Wildland. Optional: $375 for graduate credits (3) through Castleton. Financial aid may be available.

Upon completion of the program, you’ll receive a “Naturalist Educator certificate from Crow’s Path!

Program overview

“If you study nature in books, when you go out-of-doors you cannot find her.”
~ Louis Agassiz

During this 5-day intensive (July 18 – 22, 2022), you’ll learn to tease out the rich stories written in the fabric of Vermont’s unique landscape. It’s a story written in stone walls, old apple trees, sprawling oak trees, and valleys carved into sandy banks. Using a mix of field trips, hands-on science activities, and lectures, you’ll learn the tools and develop the capacity to weave together the stories in your own backyard (and schoolyard) and the confidence to share these skills with your students.

For course content, including syllabus, lectures, handouts, resources, and more, visit the participant’s page.

Want a more detailed look at the course

For prospective participants, check out the detailed syllabus, which has details on each day, resources to guide your study, sample worksheets, lectures, field sites, and plenty of other helpful information

Course Format

  1. Field Trips: Daily excursions to natural areas that highlight evidence that bears witness to Vermont’s 500 million years of history. Trips take participants to various natural areas in the Champlain Valley. These trips will also demonstrate how outdoor spaces can be used as classroom resources
  2. Hands-on Activities: You’ll get your hands dirty with field and classroom activities that highlight accessible ways of studying and exploring the natural world (e.g. digging soil pits, measuring slope with clinometers, testing for calcium in bedrock using and muriatic acid, etc)
  3. Lectures: Each morning we will begin inside with a slide show to provide content and context for our field trip (all slide shows are made available to participants)
  4. Free exploration: There will be open time throughout the week to explore resources, discover natural history mysteries, and to connect with other educators
  5. Synthesis: Guided time to identify meaningful ways of sharing content from the week with your students
The video below is a short lecture I recorded for an online Natural History course. It’ll give a good taste of what it’s like to be out in the field.

Teacher Testimonials

“This course is definitely in my top 3 courses of all time! I loved everything about it–the structure (lectures followed by most of the day outside in the field), then content, and the activities. It felt like summer camp for adults. It’s hard to pick one highlight. I really enjoyed learning more about sites around our community–most of which I have never been to. Going to the Lamoille Cave was probably the biggest highlight for me, although I truly enjoyed learning about each site. The food was incredible, too!”

Sarah, High School Teacher

“More than anything this course helped me develop a way of thinking about and discovering the stories of a place. Teage gave us so many tools – introducing us to possible sites for field trips, practicing rapid site evaluation and tree ids, but also group discovery process to build our capacity to recognize patterns and unearth what’s happened here.”

Brian, Middle School Teacher

“It deepened my sense of place and understanding of the natural communities in which I teach. I will be able to help kids ask questions, look for evidence, and make their own guesses about what is going on in the natural communities around them, how things got that way, and what they might look like in the future.”

Dylan, Middle School Teacher

“This course gave me a huge content boost that I needed. While I may not get to the depth of this content with elementary students, it’s important to understand the bigger picture context and details. The hands-on exploration and analysis of field sites is a perfect model to use with students to enable them to apply their knowledge to construct a deeper understanding of landscapes. I can envision using these models with elementary students. I will also take and share the online activities (Where’s Waldo, image identification, etc.) to use with students in the event of continued remote learning. I know colleagues were struggling with ideas to keep kids engaged as time went on.”

Courtney, Elementary School Teacher

Sample Day | Glaciers in Vermont

The flow of each day will be roughly the same. Below is what Day #2 might look like as we head out on the land and explore the legacy of the last Glacial Period.

8:30 – 9:00 am Welcome, check-in and overview of tools and resources for studying glaciers
9:00 – 10:30 am Lecture (link to slideshow) highlighting evidence in Vermont of the most recent glacial period
10:30 – 11:00 am Introduce Google Earth and Web Soil Survey as tools for mapping out soils
11:00 am – 12:00 pm Travel to Shelburne Bay and enjoy a picnic lunch on the lake shore
12:00 – 3:00 pm Glacial till, slickensides, glacial striations, and sediments of the Champlain Sea shoreline at Shelburne Bay and LaPlatte Nature
3:30 – 4:00 pm Travel back to Burlington
4:00 – 4:30pm Synthesis

Program Objectives

  1. Provide an overview of Vermont’s natural history (we’ll cover bedrock history, glacial history, natural communities, the farmed landscape, and abiotic & biotic disturbance patterns)
  2. Understand the process of disturbance (both human and natural) as it relates to forest succession and the natural communities concept
  3. Draw connections between human activities and their impact on the natural world
  4. Learn how to use common field techniques to interpret landscapes based on evidence (e.g. indicator species, bedrock features, sediment types, etc.)
  5. Explore local field sites that highlight features of Vermont’s natural history
  6. Introduce accessible, free, and easy to use tools (digital maps, websites, apps, and field tools like clinometers) to study natural landscapes
  7. Develop awareness practices and observation skills to deepen connection to place and the wild world


Naturalist Educator

Founder and Executive Director of Crow’s Path, Faculty at CCV, Author of the Wild Burlington Newsletter, Co-host The Single Acorn Podcast