We were on WOOL! Listen to our interview with Judith Schwartz and Carrie King

Last week Executive Director Carrie King recorded an interview with Judith Schwartz to air on WOOL-FM. If you missed its airing, it's now available online through WOOL's YouTube channel.

Hopeful, positive, potential—we are fascinated and inspired by Schwartz's take on what to do next to combat climate change with a firm eye on the health of our soil. 

Her talk in Chester was scheduled to be Thursday, March 8th, but due to the snowstorm, this event was moved to next Thursday, March 15th at 7PM. This event is by suggested donation and tickets are available here on our website. 

Wild Walkers Photo Recap: Learning Primitive Skills with Vermont Wilderness School


Our most recent Wild Walkers Camp over winter break was a great success with campers ages 10-14 learning new skills and reconnecting with the outdoors. We were so pleased to have Amy Hyatt from The Vermont Wilderness School return to lead our campers through a day of learning and practicing primitive skills.

The day began with the group lighting a fire without the use of an open flame. Once their fire was lit, Amy gave campers a knife-safety lesson followed by instruction on wood whittling. As the fire's coals began to get red and hot, campers were introduced to the age-old coal-burning method used to create many things including spoons, bowls, and even canoes.

Campers were given the task of creating their own coal-burned spoons and bowls if they chose. For the next several hours, every camper worked tirelessly whittling, burning, scraping, sanding, and oiling their bowls. In between their work, we enjoyed lunch at the snow-buried picnic tables, a snowball fight, sled-riding, and pop-up tag.

As we came to the end of the day, and the campers' work was wrapping up, Amy gave campers a cooking lesson. Campers helped in the preparation of ingredients to create a fire-baked apple crisp dish. Some campers were even able to use their new bowls and spoons to indulge in this sweet fire-baked treat! We came together for our ending circle-time, sharing highlights of the day and something we were all grateful for. Campers left dirty from their work, proud of their bowls and spoons, and smiling from a day immersed in the outdoors.

We hope to offer our next Wild Walkers program this summer; stay tuned! 

Twigs & Stems // March 2018

Here are a few links from around the web that caught our attention in recent weeks. Have you seen something that stuck with you that you'd like to share? Post it in the comments! Love what you see here? Follow us on Facebook, as we often post these goodies as we find them. 

 Cosmic Dawn,   AP News

Cosmic Dawn, AP News

Judith Schwartz wants to change the way you look at water — and climate change

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Join us Thursday evening for an exciting discussion with author Judith Schwartz, “Climate Solutions in Plain Sight: The Role of Water”. Schwartz, author of Cows Change the Planet and Water in Plain Sight contends that by allying with the water cycle, we can revive lush, productive landscapes. 

During this talk, Schwartz will share examples from around the world of water innovators and the fascinating relationship between the water cycle and climate change. 

In the run-up to this thought-provoking event, we've including a shortlist of recommended "reads" and "watches" for Thursday's attendees. Purchase your tickets in advance and you'll receive a confirmation e-mail with these recommendations. 

Schwartz's The Guardian article from April 2017 is a solid place to start for an overview of how she perceives the climate change debate. In that opinion piece, she urges us to move away from the idea that it can be summed up in a single story with a single culprit and solution. It is much more complex than that.

Another Successful Brave Bears Camp

With a slew of free programming offered during spring break and our summer Brave Bears camp sessions announced, we here at The Nature Museum are eager and ready for the increased opportunities to be outside as the weather warms up. We hope you can join us!

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The Nature Museum hosted our Brave Bears Winter Camp on February 21st and 22nd; both days were packed with fun despite the February thaw that happened on day one and the return of winter on day two. 

After starting the day with an opening circle, campers donned snowshoes and set out as a group to the "fort-building forest". Upon arriving at their destination they played several rounds of the game "Camouflage"; this tested campers' senses as they took turns being the "bobcat" and finding the hidden "prey" who sneakily kept an eye on the bobcat while in hiding. This activity was also fruitful in giving campers an early opportunity to stake out areas that had real fort or fairy house potential. After the game, campers had ample time to explore, build those forts and fairy houses, and inspect some interesting ice formations.

After lunch back at the museum, campers learned about animals in winter, fur, feather, and bones by inspecting various pelts, bones, skulls, feet, and feathers. Afternoon options included open exploration time of the museum and craft-making.

As a group campers chose their final activities outside and for both days, sled riding, snow play, and independent games in the garden were the chosen activities for the afternoon. During closing circle at the end of the day, each camper and educator shared one highlight of the day and one thing they were grateful for. Despite the very different conditions of each day, camper and educators had a blast enjoying the day in so many ways.

Our Brave Bears camps are grounded in the belief that its vital to give kids a chance to connect with nature through play and open-ended exploration with their peers. And this session was no exception!

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Check the Camera: A Recap of Chris Bernier's Tracking Workshop

The Art & Science of Animal Tracking Workshop with Chris Bernier on February 10th was a sweet success despite the deep, fluffy snow that had recently blanketed the land. Bernier led the 3-hour workshop for a small group of participants on his expansive property in Andover, Vermont. Folks met up in Bernier's cozy cabin, a perfect spot to meet before foraying outside to uncover the secrets of the snow. 

The group trekked through the snowy landscape, discussing habitat types, animal tracking tips and tricks, forest management, and land conservation. En route to retrieve a game camera that Bernier set up weeks ago, the group passed through varying terrain and kept a sharp lookout for the animal tracks that Berrnier was able to point out along the way. On their return to the cabin, the group was able to take a look at some of the photos. 

Nature Museum's Senior Educator, Jay DeGregorio, elected to join the group and he reported back on their sightings, “We saw fisher, squirrel, vole, and mouse tracks. We also saw black bear and bobcat scratch markings on a tree. We visited two game camera monitoring sites and learned about how and why these monitoring cameras are set up. We briefly went through the photos with Chris upon returning to the cabin. There was a fisher and a white-tailed deer in a few of the photos."

The Nature Museum is grateful to Chris for his willingness and enthusiasm to continue the exploration beyond what was planned for those who were interested and curious. DeGregorio added, "Participants seemed to genuinely enjoy the experience and with some staying into the early afternoon thanks to Chris’s enthusiasm and hospitality.”

We really enjoy developing adult programs like this one that highlight nature advocates with real expertise to our community. Chris spoke to an audience of over forty people Thursday night on the comeback of the marten, before this field workshop on Saturday morning. 

This event was a part of our adult speaker series. Past "Talk and Walk" style combination events have been led by Ari Rockland-Miller, Michael Phillips, and Ross Conrad.

The next event in our adult speaker series takes place on Thursday, March 8th at the NewsBank Conference Center in Chester with Judith Schwartz, author of Cows Save the Planet and Water in Plain Sight: Hope for a Thirsty World,

Let The Great Wheel Turn: Springtime Perks Up Animals

Editor's note: This piece by Bob Engel was first published in April 2015. Bob was a much loved Marlboro College professor and a frequent contributor to our blog and active workshop leader here at the Museum. Sadly, Bob passed away last month. Bob was tireless in his support for the Museum and he will be greatly missed.


Years ago, on a college field trip to the U.S. deserts, we ran across a guy working on Gila monsters. Monsters are the biggest lizard in the U.S., are venomous, and are related to the huge Komodo dragons on several small islands of Indonesia. Our guy was following individual monsters as they went about their lives. He had caught some and had sewn small radio transmitters into their abdominal cavities. Then, if they were above ground, he could track them with a hand-held antenna.  

He took us out and we soon got a signal from a lizard I'll call George. We headed off after George, but the several hills in the area caused reflection of the signal, and I looked down to see George calmly resting at my feet. For an almost two-foot-long pink and black lizard, he was amazingly hard to see.

We measured and weighed George, only to find out that he had lost twenty percent of his body weight in a little over a month. Was he ill?  Nope.  Cherchez la femme. He was tromping around looking for females. Judging from his loss of weight, he had covered a lot of ground. Okay, now we can get back to Vermont. 

Near the end of January, a relatively quiet tracking scene went absolutely crazy at our place. There were coyote tracks everywhere. Both foxes, too. Friends in the rest of town reported the same. What was the deal? 

I think they were courting and sparking. Because of the many programs at the Museum, by now we are all good phenologists - we know when things happen. But why do things happen when they do? The answer often boils down to successful reproduction. Like all animals, mammals need to locate mates, and sometime down the line, the females also have to give birth. If you lived out there, when would you want to have your pups stick their little noses out of the den? Right, not November.

Gestation times are evolved, but there are limits, given the evolutionary history of the species. In the case of canids like coyotes, wolves, and foxes, the developing babies are born after about two months in utero, and they start peering out of the den a couple of weeks after that: just about income tax day, if all those tracks really told the story I think they did. Personally, I'd hold out for the middle of May, but spring is going strong by the middle of April. 

On the first of March, there were ten sets of snowshoe hare tracks crossing our too-long driveway. I'm used to seeing a few hare crossings each winter, but not ten over the course of a day or two. What's going on? Well, we have to be careful here (and with the above). The statistics of small numbers are tricky and potentially very misleading. For all of the thirteen years we've been here, our sample is small, just a few bunnies. Maybe what I have seen is just one hare training for the Easter marathon. But maybe the population is up. Hares are famous for sharp, regular population cycles. There have been many good studies of this phenomenon in Canada (people counting skins collected by Hudson Bay trappers, and an ambitious recent study by John Krebs in British Columbia). In any event, I also think that for the first time all winter, these fuzzballs are also getting their wind up. 

All of us Vermonters live through a tough winter. But life goes on, and just about now, the pace is picking up. Romance is in the air. Pileated and hairy woodpeckers are drumming, and the tracks in the snow hint at the turning of the great wheel of life. 

Twigs & Stems // February 2018

Here are a few links from around the web that caught our attention in recent weeks. Have you seen something that stuck with you that you'd like to share? Post it in the comments! Love what you see here? Follow us on Facebook, as we often post these goodies as we find them. 


On Saturday, March 3rd, at The Nature Museum, children’s author Katy Farber will read her new book, Salamander Sky, an illustrated adventure of one girl who wants to help spotted salamanders.