2019-20 program dates will be announced by early April, with applications opening at that same time.
The Vermont Master Naturalist South Burlington (VMNSB) program creates a close-knit team of naturalists with specific training in South Burlington’s natural history across the earth, life and social sciences, who understand and can “read” the landscapes of South Burlington. The city has a rich natural heritage with habitat ranging from quartzite cliffs to floodplain forests. Diversity underfoot gives rise to over a dozen natural communities resulting in an abundance of rare plant species. Bobcats, coyotes, otters, beavers, deer and foxes either pass through the City or live here year-round. This program connects South Burlington citizens to the nature of their city through professional training and volunteer projects. The City of South Burlington benefits long-term from a community of naturalists acting as a brain trust for solving ecological issues facing our wild lands and serving as expert resources for conservation education in our schools and communities.
Who: Each class will consist of six to ten South Burlington residents with a sustained interest and background in at least one natural history discipline (e.g. birding, geology, wildlife tracking, botany). Candidates will be selected through an application process. The program is coordinated by Sophie Mazowita, graduate of UVM’s Field Naturalist Program, Board Member of the South Burlington Land Trust, and Program Director at Crow’s Path Field School. Sophie authored an ecological assessment and management plan for Red Rocks Park in South Burlington and currently directs a mammal tracking project for the city. The program was formed under the guidance of Alicia Daniel, who founded the Vermont Master Naturalist Program in Burlington in 2016 with training modeled after her landscape-level teaching in the UVM Field Naturalist Master of Science program. Sophie, Alicia, and other local experts will lead the training for the candidates.
How: Through a series of field trips to key natural areas, VMNSB candidates will explore the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events that have created the landscapes seen in South Burlington today. Candidates will spend time on each site reviewing the geology, soils, plants and animals (natural communities), human land use history, and signs of processes like wind, fire, or deer browse. We will also discuss the conservation history and management issues relevant for each site. While the focus of the training will be on the exchange of information, participants are invited to enter each of these places with an open heart, enjoying the beauty and a connection to nature that draws the group together. In addition, each Master Naturalist candidate will have an outside practice designed to deepen his or her naturalist skills of observation and description, including spending time at a sit spot, sketching, photographing, and more.
When: Field trip dates are September 15, 2018; November 10, 2018; January 19, 2019; March 16, 2019; and May 11, 2019. Candidates will also attend 3 or more public walks or talks during the year. Note: Please don’t hesitate to apply if you have a conflict with one of the November-May dates. There may be an option to reschedule based on applicant needs and availability.
Volunteer Contract: Upon completion of the 30 hours of training, VMNSB candidates will design team projects to engage with schools and/or community members totaling at least 20 hours per person. These self-designed volunteer projects will be created in collaboration with the program coordinator and local conservation organizations, with the goal to address specific needs in conservation education and land stewardship. Upon completion of the program, Master Naturalists will continue to serve in an advisory capacity for as long as they choose and will receive ongoing advice and support from for their naturalist practices and activities.
To apply: Fill out the application form available here. This is the 2018-19 application form, available for your reference. The 2019-20 form will be posted in April 2019.
Questions? Contact Sophie Mazowita at sophie.mazowita[at]gmail.com or 802-825-8280.