A Letter from the Co-Chair
As we begin to see the first glimpses of red and yellow in the leaves and smell the fresh hints of autumn in the air, it's time to reflect on an enjoyable summer filled with outdoor fun and outdoor work. For many of us in the environmental education field, our summer is dominated by the fulfilling and exhausting task of directing summer camp programs for youth and their families, leading natural history interpretive programs, or feverishly planning curriculum for the school year. If this refers to you, pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath - you did it!
Moving into the fall season is not just a time for reflection on summer, it's also a time to get rejuvenated and inspired for the productive months ahead. The SWEEP Board recently met to strategize plans for the organization. One very exciting development is for the first time the SWEEP Board will be hiring a part time SWEEP Coordinator to help with the administrative tasks of the organization. This position will allow the Board to accomplish new projects, which in turn helps the entire membership by keeping the organization relevant and focused on serving the SWEEP community. Information on the position will be posted on
The SWEEP community is characterized by individuals and organizations dedicated to connecting the people of Vermont to its natural resources. The SWEEP Board has been working hard to support this network by setting program goals and tasks that will help provide opportunities for everyone to meet and share ideas, create resources that will diversify and improve programs, and inspire the environmental education community to continue doing the great work it does throughout the state. We hope this newsletter helps spur new ideas and makes you feel proud to be part of the environmental education crew!
Co-Chair of Vermont SWEEP
About SWEEP: Our Strategic Framework
SWEEP is the
Vermont State-Wide Environmental Education Programs
, a nonprofit coalition of individuals and organizations whose mission is to promote a resilient future by fostering exceptional environmental education through our state and regional networks.
SWEEP envisions a society that strives for environmental resilience for the well-being of humans and global ecosystems.
With its relatively intact natural landscape and a population that values it, Vermont supports efforts to promote environmental health. SWEEP offers a forum that helps its members create awareness, knowledge, and action to build resilient environmental and social systems.
SWEEP is one of the six environmental education organizations that make up the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA). SWEEP represents Vermont in the North American Association of Environmental Educators (NAAEE) Affliliate Network.
Click here to view the Working Draft of SWEEP's Strategic Framework
Audubon Vermont is Reaching New Audiences
started an outdoor, conservation-based program for homeschool students. The program was a huge success and the 2016 season hosts expanded topics and enrollment. Our 4 hour program integrates the outdoor classroom with rigorous academic concepts, conservation-based themes, and connection with nature. This drop-in homeschool program focuses on key science concepts: math, biology, environmental sciences, outdoor skills, and communication/team skills. Each program is designed to give homeschool instructors a platform from which to build their lessons and units.
"It serves a new community as these students would not normally visit on a fieldtrip. They spend significant time in a small group setting, building better understanding of place, seasons, and lenses through which we view nature. It's an intensive outdoor learning environment which they would not see at home." - Debbie Archer, Teacher Naturalist
"As an instructor, I like that I work with the same kids each month, building a rapport, and connecting over seasons. I get to tailor content to the emerging interests of the group as the year goes on." - Gwen Causer, Audubon Teacher Naturalist
Upcoming Audubon Events - Join Us!
Wild Mushrooms of Autumn
Sunday, September 11, 10:00am - 12:00pm
Register early - this program fills up quickly!
Register and learn more.
Tuesdays: September 6 thru October 4
5:30pm - 6:45pm
$60 for 5-week session. Must enroll for the full series; Drop-in not available.
Register with Jamie Montague (
for details and registration paperwork.
Where: Green Mountain Audubon Center
Dates: Fridays, September 9 through December 16, 2016
Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (send students with a packed lunch)
Cost: $420 for non-members, $350 for members
Format: Our mornings will begin with thirty minutes of outdoor exploratory play upon drop-off (parents welcome to stay, too!) From here we say goodbye to parents and travel to our forest camp, playing games along the way.
Vermont Wildlife Festival
Southern Vermont Natural History Museum
will be partnering with over 25 different organizations to bring the 6th annual Vermont Wildlife Festival to southern VT on September 18th. With help from Mount Snow Resorts and the Southern Vermont Chamber of Commerce we will hold the festival at Mount Snow in West Dover this year from 10:00-4:00.
Featured programming will include live fly-fishing demonstrations, a Native American encampment, live animal exhibits and presentations, Arts and Crafts for the kids, a laser-sight shooting range and at 3:00 we will be visited by a live wolf from the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge.
This event is intended to bring together all the different groups and individuals that utilize Vermont's beautiful outdoors. Everyone from Wilderness survival schools to turtle rescues to book stores will be in attendance! Contact the Museum if your group isn't involved yet, or to get more information about the event: (802) 464-0048 or
Farm to School: Grow the Movement!
November 2-3, 2016
Lake Morey Resort, Fairlee, VT
The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets and Vermont FEED, in partnership with the Vermont Farm to School Network, is hosting a
to bring together members and leaders of the farm to school community for two days of education, networking, and inspiration. The two-day Vermont Farm to School Conference was created to connect community stakeholders who are dedicated to bringing farm-fresh, local food to school cafeterias and promoting food, farm, and nutrition education.
to learn more.
Boots to Boats Comes to the Upper Valley
Bold Paths has been working with the National Park Service this summer, to bring the Centennial project
Boots to Boats
to the upper valley.
Connecting the two national parks in VT and NH, Marsh Billings Rockefeller in Woodstock, VT with St Gaudens in Cornish, NH, the project has put together a guide book that is available and
: the Appalachian Trail from Woodstock to Norwich, and the Connecticut River water trail from Norwich to Cornish. Locations for ons and offs and features of the trails are in the
, which you can access at the National Park Service site.
There are numerous guided hikes, and the kayaking trips on the Connecticut River got 293 people on the river, 220 of them were youth.
More opportunities are available, contact Bold Paths:
Community Based Social Marketing Workshop
Lake Champlain Sea Grant and UVM Extension are hosting a community-based social marketing workshop on Thursday, September 29 and Friday, September 30. The workshop will be held at the University of Vermont in Burlington. Social marketing expert, Nancy Lee, will lead this two day workshop.
Community-based Social Marketing is a marketing technique often used to promote environmentally friendly behaviors. It functions by initially working to understand barriers and benefits specific target audiences have to implementing certain behaviors, and then defining outreach to break down identified barriers or promote benefits. In the Lake Champlain Basin, helping every audience to understand the impact of their lives on water quality is essential as we work towards implementing the Lake Champlain TMDLs. Similar outreach is needed in other watersheds as well.
Professional Development Opportunity: Northern Woodlands Conference
Celebrate the natural history of the Northeast and earn professional development credits at the same time!
Join us for the
Northern Woodlands Conference
at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont this September 30 - October 2. Presenting expert naturalists and leading authors in small group sessions, set in the inspiring environment of Lake Morey, this event is for readers, writers, artists, teachers, and anyone else who loves the woods.
Lodge overnight in rustic cabins, attend as a commuter, or come Saturday only. Delicious family-style meals included.
The schedule includes a fun mashup of topics, reflecting the breadth of content covered in
Northern Woodlands magazine
. There will be writing workshops, readings, and a nature illustration class. Nationally recognized authors
will both be there, as well as a number of other well-known writers, editors, and naturalists.
is giving this year's keynote address.
will give a fun presentation on scent marking, and there'll be a dynamic educator workshop. We'll have talks on loons, ice storms, and eagles.
co-founder and former publisher
will discuss his book on the '38 hurricane. Logger and soon-to-be published author
will share some stories at open mice night, and we hope you will, too!
This event is sponsored by
The Trust for Public Land
and the Bailey Charitable Foundation.
To view the full schedule and register, visit:
Questions can be directed to Emily Rowe,
The Nature Museum at Grafton to Present Black Bear Talk with Nationally Recognized Wildlife Biologist Ben Kilham
Nature Museum at Grafton
will present a talk by wildlife biologist Ben Kilham, PhD on Saturday, October 26, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the NewsBank Conference Center, 352 Main Street, Chester, VT. Highlighted by amazing images, the presentation will focus on how the social behavior of black bears resembles that of humans.
Years of observing black bears and rehabilitating orphan bears informs Kilham's expertise. Devoted to black bears, he has studied their habits and forged relationships with them for over two decades. In the process he has gathered research that has provided new insight into bears' social lives and intelligence. Kilham, his wife Debra and sister Phoebe have rehabilitated some 90 to 100 cubs over the course of his career. They've cared for them and fed them until they're 18 months old - even bringing them into their home - and then helped them to successfully return to the wild.
Kilham has been the focus of several news articles and documentaries, including National Geographic's
A Man Among Bears
and Animal Planet's
. He is also author of the books
Among the Bears: Raising Orphaned Cubs in the Wild
Out on a Limb: Origins of Intuition and Intelligence
. He is licensed as a bear rehabilitator by the State of New Hampshire.
The Nature Museum encourages participation in this program to learn more about an animal that many Vermonters have had the pleasure of spotting here in the mountains (or our backyards). Tickets are $7 and can be purchased on line at the
Nature Museum's website
. Tickets are also available at the door for $10.
Located at 186 Townshend Road in Grafton, Vermont, The Nature Museum is a non-profit museum that offers hands-on natural history exhibits, nature programs for adults and children, plus an annual Fairy House Festival. More information can be found on
The Nature Museum Facebook page
and on their
. Contact: Lynn Barrett,
A New Book On Exploring Nature From Michael Caduto
SWEEP member and co-founder Michael Caduto's latest book:
Through a Naturalist's Eyes: Exploring the Nature of New England
, is being published in October 2016. In more than fifty essays Michael draws on first-hand experiences, interviews with expert naturalists and explorations that lead readers on a journey into the heart of New England's environment, and an open-eyed look at the relationship between nature and humankind. In a unique style that combines natural science, humor, storytelling and environmental reporting, the book explores some of the plants, animals, natural places and environmental issues of New England-from dragonflies, cuckoos and chipmunks to circumpolar constellations, phenology and climate change. Each chapter is animated by gorgeously rendered, lifelike illustrations by Vermont artist Adelaide Tyrol.
Michael is an award-winning author in natural history, environmental education, climate change education and Earth stewardship, and a master performer of stories and original music. His books include the international best-selling
Keepers of the Earth
® series (co-author with Joseph Bruchac),
Pond and Brook
Catch the Wind-Harness the Sun
. Adelaide Tyrol is a fine artist, a natural history illustrator and a large format commercial painter who works out of her studios in Vermont and New York City. She has her MFA from the Art Institute of Boston and is represented by McGowan Fine Art in Concord NH and Furchgott Sourdiffe Gallery in Shelburne.
"For all of us who love the forests, hills and marshes of New England, this is much more than a guide book-it's an invitation to explore, and a key to making sense of what we notice. Many thanks to the author for opening my eyes again!"
- Bill McKibben, author Wandering Home & Co-founder 350.org
"Like a naturalist's dinner party with a roomful of ecologists, biologists and storytellers. Adelaide Tyrol's illustrations beautifully illuminate each topic, highlighting the focal point and leaving room for the reader's own imagination. I read this book in one big gulp, but I'll return to it to savor passages again and again."
-Lisa Purcell, Director, Four Winds Nature Institute and Co-editor Hands on Nature
"...through his eyes (Caduto) makes it a personal experience, and we find ourselves saying, 'Yes! I've seen that! So that's what it is!'"
- Willem Lang, VPR Commentator & Author of A Yankee Notebook
"No matter what you may think you know, this book offers something new to discover about the natural world around us."
- Paul Rezendes, Author of Tracking & the Art of Seeing and The Wild Within.
Phenology Calendar: A Look at the Season's Main Events
By Virginia Barlow, an excerpt from the
Autumn 2016 edition
First Week of September
Moose are packing on the pounds in preparation for winter when they subsist mostly on bark and are sure to lose weight.
White pine seeds are falling from their cones; most of the empty cones will fall during the winter.
Some red-bellied snakes may still be giving birth to their seven or eight live young. In a month or so they all will head to hibernation sites well below the surface.
Second Week of September
Over the past 40 or so years the growing season here has increased by about two weeks. Variations from one year to the next are even greater, so be ready to get out the bed sheets if cold nights are predicted.
Milkweed pods are opening and the seeds are flying off.
Male spring peepers may be peeping, not from water as in spring, but from the woods. Day length and temperature are similar to their spring mating time and seem to trigger this "fall echo."
Third Week of September
Praying mantises are depositing their Styrofoam-like egg masses around twigs.
Nutritious beechnuts are falling from beech trees and will be eaten by many, many, many mammals and birds.
Pokeweed's dark purple fruits definitely call attention to themselves. The plant is used medicinally for a wide range of ailments, but beware: all parts are toxic.
Fourth Week of September
Sept. 28: Mars will be within one degree of the Lagoon Nebula and anyone with a backyard telescope will be able to use Mars as a marker for finding this 4,000 light-year distant interstellar cloud.
Some of this year's eastern newts are leaving the ponds where they were born to take up a terrestrial existence. They'll turn red and be called red efts during their several-year stay on land.
This could be among the last chances to enjoy fall warblers.
Download this autumn's full calendar. Northern Woodlands publishes a bi-weekly educator's eNewsletter that contains a phenology calendar just like this one. Click here to sign up for this free resource.
A New Tool for Learning About Fall Foliage in New England
I have just produced bookmarks for learning how the leaves turn color in the fall. There is a very simple explanation of Fall Colors on one side.
"As the days shorten and the nights get colder, the green pigment (chlorophyll) breaks down and reveals the yellow pigment. Most trees remain yellow, but in Beech and Oak the yellow mixes with their brown tannin, while Maple and Ash produce red sugar."
They can also be seen at
The bookmarks can be used a fundraisers for organizations,
simply contact us
and we can figure out a way to make it work.
NEW BOOK: Northern Woodlands Publishes
The Outside Story, Vol. 2
How do trees fight beavers?
Why do trout have spots?
Are those ten coyotes howling, or just two?
If robins migrate, how come they're at my feeder this winter?
The Outside Story
is a weekly ecology essay series edited by the staff of
magazine, compiled here into our second volume, with interior illustrations and the cover painting by
. Organized by month, the 72 essays in this book offer a fun and often surprising look at everyday nature of the Northeast. Also included are week-to-week calendars of natural events and suggestions for hands-on outdoor learning.
Order your copy today!
This is a smorgasbord menu of delicious tidbits of the north woods. A fun read.
The Outside Story is a series of short literary treks into the heart of the
natural world, each of which lifts a small veil off the face of something
mundane, misunderstood, or unknown. These essays reveal the inner
beauty of place, process, and participant, a gateway into the nature
of a number of the other life forms that shape northern woodlands.
Unequivocally, this book is the ideal companion for a field guide.
Call for bulk rates for orders of ten or more to the same domestic address. 802-439-6292.
Nature Exploration Kits for Rent
Who can use these kits?
One World Conservation Center
's Nature Exploration Kits are designed for youth groups, home schoolers, church groups, afterschool programs, 4H groups, Scouts, and classrooms. Activities are very flexible, and most can be adapted to work with one child, a classroom, or any size in between.
What is the cost and how long can I keep them?
for details, and you can keep it for 3 weeks. Longer rentals are on a case-by-case basis.
What is in a kit?
We packed these kits with a ton of great stuff! They include books (guidebooks, fiction stories), games, DVDs and CDs, specimens, and a binder full of background information, craft ideas, and 8 - 10 detailed activities. Basically, we've provided nearly everything you need to help guide your child or group to explore the kit's topic in great detail.
Insects and Other Creepy Crawlies
Learn how insects and other arthropods play important ecological roles, and see how some invasive species are threatening our forests. Topics include food webs, Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Longhorned Beetle, bee pollination, arthropods, and beneficial insects.
Hone your identification skills as you explore Northeast trees and understand how they are vital to humans and wildlife. Topics include leaf identification, parts of a tree, importance of trees, measuring trees, and reading tree cookies.
Mammals in Your Neighborhood
Learn about local mammals while investigating track and scat "clues" and studying differences in pelts and skulls. Topics include identifying mammals, local mammals, adaptations, scat, tracks, and skulls and teeth.
Batty for Bats
Realize that bats are amazing and important creatures. Understand why populations have dropped and how biologists are trying to help. Topics include myths versus facts, anatomy, Vermont bats, White-nosed Syndrome, and echolocation.
Reptiles and Amphibians
Discover how our native frogs, lizards, turtles, and snakes use their fascinating adaptations to thrive in the Northeast. Topics include reptiles versus amphibians, local species, adaptations, metamorphosis, sea turtles, and being cold-blooded.
How can I rent one?
Contact us at