Testimonials

“The Vermont Master Naturalist Program in Williston established a cadre of local citizens who are engaging in activities such as leading public walks, stewarding streamside plantings, inventorying invasive plants on town natural areas, and helping to spread the word about pollinator-friendly landscaping practices. It is the sense of place that VMN cultivates that has increased public participation not only in conservation issues, but in broader town planning as well.”  Melinda Scott, Conservation Planner, Town of Williston, 2019

“For me, this has been a transformative experience, changing how I see the world, from the ground up to the sky (stopping at the barns now), and giving me new lenses to examine the natural world and our place in it. Not only do I feel like I gained a lot of in-depth knowledge about South Hero and the Islands, but also has helped me develop a skillset and framework for learning that I can take with me.  I think I speak for all of us when I say this was an amazing experience.”  Guy Maguire, Program Director, South Hero Land Trust, VMN 2019

“It has changed the way I understand what I see around me from a focus on details – what tree, plant, or animal sign is that? – to trying to understand what natural community I’m in and how it developed, from bedrock to soil, through natural processes and human influences. That’s a shift I’ve been trying to make on my own, unsuccessfully. Just this month I realized how fundamentally my awareness of where I am has changed, whether in a big city or in the woods in Vermont.”  Polly Darnell, Native Plant Trust Plant Conservation Volunteer,  VMN 2019

“What we’ve learned is both so specific and grounded in Burlington and totally universal—it’s a new way of looking at any landscape. So in pretty immediate ways, I feel much more familiar and at home in this city. On the other end, I feel like the whole natural world is opening up for me. I feel much more confident interpreting new landscapes because I’m worrying less about identifying each individual plant species and thinking more about communities, wondering why that collection plants and animals are coming together in that place.  I’ve been glad to join projects that have created opportunities for art, research, and writing as ways to share my experience of the master naturalist program. I see a role for citizen naturalists to provide grounded and rigorous thinking to engaged community groups.  This summer, I’m going to be doing the field research for a new edition of AMC’s Quiet Water New York paddling guidebook.  I’ll be approaching the lakes and ponds of the Adirondacks with the layer cake mindset!”  Will Lathrop, Environmental Philanthropy Associate, High Meadows Fund, VMN 2018

“I have truly enjoyed being able to apply all of the knowledge that I’ve gained to the place in which I live and that I love.  I have a much better understanding of the natural spaces of Burlington, the land use history, the geology, and the natural communities; put together, this enriches the experience of being in this place.  Further, I am much better equipped to have discussions with others that can potentially make them feel more connected to Burlington’s natural landscape as well. I am particularly excited about my project team’s art and storytelling event in September; I love the idea of allowing the greater community to share the ways in which the natural landscape of this city has inspired them, through photography, poetry, drawing, and stories.”  Elise Schadler, Vermont Urban and Community Forester, VMN 2017

“I have gained an appreciation for just how different, different parts of Vermont actually are – from a sand dune community on Lake Champlain to an alpine forest on the top of Camel’s Hump or Mt. Mansfield.”  Chuck Hulse, Board Member South Hero Land Trust, VMN 2017

“I’ve learned from Alicia to be an observer ‘with less of an agenda’: a more open mind and sensibilities when exploring the natural world. Though a naturalist all my life, I now observe at a deeper immersive level. With my VT Plant Conservation Volunteer work, I have helped Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront and Lone Rock Point map rare plants on Burlington lands to help them guide citizen use to appreciate and help steward these rare natural communities within our urban community.” Kate Kruesi, Native Plant Trust Plant Conservation Volunteer, VMN 2017 

“I moved to Burlington in September and the class has revolutionized my experience of the city…. From the bedrock to the mammals to the human interactions, I now understand so much more of what is going on and why..Also, some of the people in the class are so knowledgeable and they have really expanded my understanding of the natural world. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of this first cohort of amazing people.”  Jacob Holzberg-Pill, Branch Out Burlington Tree Keeper Trainer, VMN 2017