Vermont Master Naturalist teams up with UVM Field Naturalists, VMN Master Naturalists and local experts to offer exceptional field science training across earth, life, and social sciences.
UVM Field Naturalists
Sean worked and studied across the continent as a wildlife biologist, keeping company with more hawks, owls, puffins, and songbirds than people. His research landed him in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the northern Rockies, where he came to understand that the biggest barrier to conservation isn’t a lack of research, but a lack of nature literacy and healthy relationships with our natural landscapes. As a Yellowstone wildlife guide, Sean brought guests to the threshold of wolf dens and the heart of grizzy country. Though he still leads expeditions to these wild places regularly, he recently swam back to his Vermont headwaters to complete UVM’s Field Naturalist and Ecological Planning graduate program. Now fully re-rooted in his homeland, Sean works as the Director of Natural History Programing at North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier, where he directs natural history and citizen science programs. Sean is now grateful to work with fellow Vermonters through VMN as a trip leader in Williston and as a program coordinator in the VMN Winooski Headwaters Chapter.
Having grown up somewhere between a brackish marsh and a tupelo swamp in Maine, Grace has always had a fondness for forgotten wetlands. She now draws on her experience at the intersection of environmental education and field ecology to teach others about some of our most valuable and overlooked natural communities. Grace has a B.A. in Botany from Connecticut College and a Master’s degree from the Field Naturalist and Ecological Planning Program at the University of Vermont. She has worked as a botanist in Wyoming and Arizona, an ecologist in Montana, a land steward in Maine, and an environmental educator on the Hudson River. Most recently, Grace has taught field ecology at the Vermont Law School and worked with the state of Maine to assess the ecological integrity of coastal salt marshes. Grace works as a consulting ecologist and lives in Montpelier, where she enjoys playing old-time banjo and botanizing recreationally along the Winooski River.
Jason is an ecologist, naturalist, and adjunct instructor at the University of Vermont where he teaches courses in native pollinator conservation and field ecology. After growing up in western New York and earning a bachelor’s degree in geology from SUNY Buffalo, Jason left the rust belt for the Sangre de Cristos of northern New Mexico. For five summers he led backpacking trips at Philmont Scout Ranch, guiding young adults into the mountains to meet marmots and smell ponderosa pines. Since leaving the southwest, Jason has worked as a hut naturalist for the Appalachian Mountain Club, a dogsled musher in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, and as a native plant specialist for a landscaping company in Bozeman, Montana.
In 2019, Jason earned a master’s degree from the University of Vermont’s Field Naturalist program. He is currently working for UVM’s Gund Institute alongside Audubon Vermont to develop conservation strategies for the state’s 300+ species of native bees. Jason prefers to spend his free time in the mountains of northern New England. In the summer he can be found on long runs through the boreal forest clutching a notebook and a hand lens. In the winter, when insects are hard to come by, Jason can usually be found skiing on the Catamount Trail with a thermos of hot coffee and a loaf of fresh bread.
Charlie was born in a concrete-laden suburb of Los Angeles, where water was hard to come by. After graduating from UC Davis, he mapped and inventoried the vegetation on the chaparral-covered hills of Los Angeles for eight years before moving to Vermont to complete the Field Naturalist program. He then went on to work for Vermont Natural Heritage Inventory, where he inventoried, tracked, and mapped natural communities with Eric Sorenson. In 2016 he began working for the Vermont Wetlands program, with his mapping and inventory focused specifically on the state’s wonderful wetlands. This brought him full circle from thrashing through near-impenetrable chamise and scrub oak on California’s dry slopes to thrashing through near-impenetrable highbush blueberry and holly in Vermont’s soggy wetlands.
Charlie lives in Montpelier, Vermont with his wife and two children and a small wetland he is restoring in his yard. His life took another surprise turn in 2020 when amidst global pandemic and upheaval, he learned that his obsessive mapping, strong aversion to certain indoor spaces, and constant bouncing fidgeting were results of being autistic, something that had been missed in the past due to a childhood misdiagnosis. Since this time he has also dived into the neurodiversity movement and the interface between neurodivergent brain types and the interactions of humans with nature and each other.
Gus Goodwin is the Conservation Coordinator for The Nature Conservancy in Vermont. In this role, he shepherds conservation projects from start to finish, engaging in conservation science, land protection, and ecological management. In short, he does a little bit of everything. And this suits him perfectly. Driven by curiosity and an appreciation for the complexity of the natural world, Gus has developed a broad background that includes botany, wildlife tracking and road ecology, surficial geology, and conservation planning. Throughout all this runs a common thread of connecting science to conservation actions. He’s excited to share this connection with the Vermont Master Naturalist Program. In his spare time, Gus is an avid skier, climber, hiker, and furniture maker.
Teage was born in Alaska where he was mentored to care for the living world around him by his mom and dad. His dad was a veterinarian and their house often a miniature zoo. He studied at the University of Chicago where he met Beth Wilkin, a high school Environmental Science teacher. She gave him her copy of Peterson’s Field Guide to Birds and a copy of Tom Brown’s The Tracker, which got him hooked on studying the natural world.
He continued working with inner-city kids at Manice in Western Mass, before attending UVM’s Field Naturalist master’s program. At UVM he found inspiration for asking deeper questions in Jeff Hughes, Matt Kolan, Alicia Daniel, and Walter Poleman among others. Under their guidance his work shifted from more traditional environmental education to engaging communities through direct experience and long-term mentoring relationships. This followed a personal shift from being interested in the theoretical to the practical. As a result, he has spent the last six years learning a variety of traditional skills, including fire-by-friction, bow-making, tracking, and spoon carving. (He is currently carving spoons out of as many types of trees/shrubs he can find in Vermont.)
Allaire grew up in Springfield, VT and received a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Wellesley College. Returning to the Green Mountains, she earned an M.Ed. in Secondary Science Education from the University of Vermont and spent three years teaching biology at Missisquoi Valley Union High School. This experience, plus research work at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, US Geological Survey, and UVM, provided a foundation for an M.S. in Plant Biology from UVM’s Field Naturalist Program.
In 2009, Allaire started Goldthread Ecological Consulting and performed ecological inventory, natural community mapping, and project design work for the Green Mountain Club, the USDA Forest Service, Vermont Land Trust, and private foresters. She has published articles in Northern Woodlands, Hobby Farm Home, and Edible Green Mountains, as well as the journals Economic Botany and Journal of Forestry. Since 2012 she has worked as a Conservation Ecologist at Vermont Land Trust. Allaire has served on the board of the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District and as Williston’s Tree Warden, and currently leads the Jericho Elementary School PTO and serves on the Jericho Conservation Commission. She enjoys long-distance cross-country skiing and cycling, woodblock printmaking, travel, talking about books, and spending time with her husband Seth and their two children.
Alicia’s love of nature has taken her across the continent from tracking black bears in Alaska to surveying bat caves in Texas to seeing an arribada of Olive Ridley sea turtles on a moonlit beach in Costa Rica. Exploring her Vermont backyard with VMN naturalists is now a dream come true.
“Walking through the forest without knowing how to read the landscape is like walking through a library without knowing how to read a book. Once you start to read the landscape it captures your imagination and opens up a whole new world,” she says. Places record their histories in rock formations and soil horizons, in tree rings and cut stumps, in stonewalls and cellar holes, deer browse and beaver chew. For the past 25 years at UVM, Alicia Daniel has guided students as they solve forest mysteries and record their findings in maps, field notes, poems, and sketches.
Forest ecologist Tom Wessels writes, “To develop intimacy with people it is necessary to understand their history; the same holds true for developing an intimate relationship with place.” Through her teaching Alicia helps people cultivate an intimate understanding of the natural world. Alicia also is the Field Naturalist for the City of Burlington working at BPRW in conservation education, reforestation, and managing forested parks for wildlife and plant diversity.
VMN Master Naturalists
Jacob grew up in the hills of western Massachusetts chasing frogs and climbing trees. (Not much has changed.) His work has focused on empowering individuals and groups through personal connection with the natural world. Jacob has taught ecology and land stewardship in many different venues, from the high school classroom to the community college to the graduate school seminar. In all these different learning environments, he aspires to promote deep ecological awareness, as well as a solutions-oriented approach when considering the needs of humans and the earth.
Jacob holds a M.F. in Ecosystem Management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a M.Ed. in Ecology and Mentoring from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Since Moving to Burlington, Jacob has focused on becoming involved with land stewardship programs around the city. Jacob is a board member and assistant nursery manager for Branch Out Burlington. Jacob has also taught classes at the Winter NOFA conference, the UVM Osher Life Long Learning Institute, Gardner’s Supply, and the Rokeby Museum. Jacob was part of the first Master Naturalist cohort and he is excited to use his Master Naturalist training to teach classes and lead workshops focusing on increasing knowledge, enthusiasm and connection for Burlington’s urban wilds.
Kate is a Plant Conservation Volunteer, helping monitor rare plant populations for the New England Plant Conservation Program and collecting seed as requested for New England Wildflower Society’s seed bank. A life-long Vermonter, when she retired to urban Burlington in 2015, she was thrilled to learn how many rare plant populations and uncommon natural communities were walkable and bike-able from her home.
She was a member of the first year of the Vermont Master Naturalist training in Burlington and has helped with ecological assessments and interpretative signage in some of the parks. Working with a Burlington Wildways team, she has developed a table to help visualize the most important ecological functions in Burlington’s open spaces that have been mapped on the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources’ BioFinder. BioFinder is an online mapping tool and database for planners that is integrated with the Vermont Conservation Design approach. Under the auspices of the Vermont Hardy Plant Club, she enjoys planning botanical field trips to provide more learning opportunities for professional and amateur botanists as well as inspire people new to native plants and natural communities. She occasionally leads plant walks herself.
Remy was born in Connecticut and influenced by his mother’s spiritual connection to nature at a young age. The forest became his playground and stage, allowing his imagination to run wild. However, it was not until his teenage years that Remy was mentored by naturalists at his local Audubon chapter and became obsessed with learning to identify and understand what exactly he had been observing all those years in the woods. Working as a Summer Naturalist from age fourteen to twenty allowed Remy to hone his skills and inspired him to move to Vermont in 2011 to pursue a degree in Ecology and Conservation at the University of Vermont.
Remy now works for the Winooski Valley Park District as their Project and Programs Coordinator; leading their summer S.O.L.E. Camp program, conducting natural resource inventories, updating management plans, building trail features, and much more. Remy is a graduate of the inaugural Burlington Master Naturalist class, trained with Sue Morse and her Keeping Track program, and is the caretaker for Colchester Pond Natural Area. Remy has been involved with the Vermont Master Naturalist program since its inception and looks forward to leading more field outings as VMN expands into new communities.
Stephen has been a member of the UVM faculty since 1993, teaching a variety of courses spanning both surface processes and hard rock fields. He currently teaches Environmental Geology, Glacial Geology, and a graduate class, Vermont Field Geology. Stephen also teaches Introductory Geology and, every few years, the Department’s Regional Geology summer field class where he leads field trips to Colorado. Stephen is particularly interested in the hydrology of glaciers and the resulting erosional and depositional processes occurring in both bedrock and surficial materials at the base of glaciers. He also enjoys deciphering glaciotectonic structures in materials overridden by the last ice sheet.
Steve began collecting minerals and fossils in New England and upstate New York when he was six years old. He attended the University of Rochester, the Pennsylvania State University, and Stanford University. Steve worked at the U.S. Geological Survey as a Research Geochemist with the Branch of Western Mineral Resources for ten years before joining geology departments at the University of Vermont and Northwestern University. He has been a member of the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at the University at Albany since 1996. Steve’s research has concentrated on using stable isotopes and fluid inclusions to construct genetic mineral deposit models and to evaluate global climate and environmental change.
He currently teaches courses in geology and environmental science in his department’s Environmental Science Program. Steve has served as an officer of both the Vermont Geological Society and the Burlington Gem and Mineral Club. He still enjoys collecting minerals and fossils and hiking and snowshoeing with his family in the woods of Aldis Hill in Saint Albans.
Glacial Geology & Hydrology
Craig is a hydrogeologist and glacial geologist who has been providing consulting services to a wide range of clients throughout Vermont and the northeast since 1980. He has worked on projects for the private and public sectors pertaining to wastewater disposal, water supplies, contaminant hydrogeology, streams, drainage, and surface water and groundwater quality. He leads workshops and fieldtrips in glacial geology and surficial geology for the UVM Field Naturalist Graduate Program, Vermont Technical College, and most recently the Vermont Master Naturalist Program. Craig lives in and has raised two daughters with his wife Judy Chaves in Ferrisburgh Hollow, and is on the Ferrisburgh Conservation Commission.
Kristen’s research involves the development of tools to model and evaluate river catchments as complex and dynamic systems. She applies machine learning algorithms and Bayesian statistics to better understand spatial and temporal patterns in pollutant loading, to inform sustainable design of infrastructure for geomorphic and ecological compatibility, and to guide conservation and restoration activities for reduced flood losses.
Kristen earned her MS in Geosciences from Pennsylvania State University, and worked as a consulting Professional Geologist prior to founding a small Vermont-based business in 2000 to conduct watershed assessments and river restoration. In her cross-disciplinary work with local, state and federal stakeholders, she identified a need for advanced data-driven tools to support restoration and conservation decision-making. This inspired Kristen’s return to graduate school in the UVM Civil & Environmental Engineering program, with a focus on data science. She is interested i emergent properties and patterns extracted from environmental data that can be linked to drivers of underlying hydrologic and biogeochemical processes and used to guide management and conservation strategies in support of sustainable development.
Dave Muska began his journey with the natural world exploring the streams, hillsides and forests of the Susquehanna River Valley of New York. As a teen, Dave was introduced to the world of wilderness living skills and found his first answer to the questions he’d been asking for years: “How did people live on earth before the modern age . . . and how can I do that?”
Dave has a B.S. in Environmental Biology from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY where he focused much of his attention on Mychology (the study of fungi.) Dave has worked with children in outdoor education for the past 8 years and believes that developing a relationship with the natural world is a fundamental component of a healthy life and community. When not at North Branch Nature Center, Dave teaches classes and leads trips through his business, Ondatra Adventures, that is devoted to creating meaningful relationships with the natural world. Dave enjoys foraging for mushrooms and other foods and medicines, sleeping in leaf piles, creating from natural materials, backpacking, practicing traditional living skills, playing music, and running.
Jane is a consulting geographer who helps people connect to the Vermont landscape and understand how it came to be. With an undergraduate background in biology and geology, she came to UVM for a master’s in geography. While working on her master’s thesis, she looked at the messy, patchy second-growth forest patterns in Vermont and noticed that the forest types were often different on either side of a stone wall. After measuring a lot of trees and mapping a lot of stone walls, she realized that to understand second-growth forest patterns she need to understand 19th century farm layouts. She took deep dives into old maps and photographs, 19th century farm diaries, town histories and agricultural census information, and interviewed retired farmers and lumber company owners. By the time she came out the other end of her research, she could see how strongly interconnected the human and the natural worlds really were.
Now, Jane shares her deep understanding of the Vermont landscape doing project-based work with state and local nonprofits and schools. She has created walking maps with cultural and natural points of interest, public presentations on a the evolution of a town’s landscape, field trips that explore a special landscape feature, teacher’s workshops on the local landscape and place-based lesson ideas, afterschool programs for kids, interpretations of individual properties, written site histories, and maps of river swimming holes for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation. In all these cases, the deeper look Jane provides is helping people create deeper connections to the landscape. See janedorney.com for more information and blog posts about her work.
Sam’s passion for learning extends back nearly three decades, when her parents found her watching the History Channel instead of Saturday morning cartoons. Her childhood was spent in the rolling Green Mountains of Vermont, where she attended Audubon camps. She discovered her interest in genealogy at 16, and has been within arm’s reach of a book ever since.
When she graduated with her MSc in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont in 2013, Sam headed west to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where a burgeoning career in field teaching first took hold. As the Director of Historical Research and Outreach at the Jackson Hole Historical Society & Museum, a staff training for a local wildlife guides became a jumping off point into interpreting history for field naturalists. Although Sam considers herself a late bloomer to the field of natural history, she has dug enthusiastically into the dirt with both hands.
She returned home to Vermont in 2015, where the history is deeper and the woods greener. Here she leads field workshops interpreting our cultural history for high schoolers to adults. She prefers to learn and teach outside, replacing the book stacks of her youth with hardwood forests. Sam’s happiest when others are inspired to share their own personal history with her during a walk in the woods.
Photo of Teage O’Connor by Sophie Mazowita; photo of Alicia Daniel by Monica Erhart; photo of Craig Heidel by Kate Blofson; photo of Stephen Wright by Sean Beckett; photo of Kristen Underwood by Monica Erhart.
Banner Photo by Monica Erhart.