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Northern Forest Atlas Field Courses

July 15 @ 12:00 AM - September 2 @ 4:30 PM

We have an exciting new opportunity for you this spring and summer to learn plants and plant ecology with experts from the Northern Forest Atlas project. We are offering two sorts of courses: Two-day Introductory Courses, taught at the VIC and concentrating on a single plant group, and One-day Field Courses, taught entirely outdoors, and concentrating on the plants and ecology of a distinctive place.  The courses are presented by Northern Forest Atlas and hosted via the VIC in the Adirondacks and North Branch Nature Center’s Biodiversity University in Montpelier, VT.  The courses are listed below and include a link that will take you to course descriptions and registration. Class size is limited and will fill quickly–register early.

There are two introductory courses on Woody Plants in early March and May, and on Boreal Mosses and Moss Habitats in late May. Both focus on observing, drawing, and identifying the species near the VIC. They introduce you to the plants by studying living plants on the table, and then take you outdoors to identify them yourself in the wild. They are where we recommend you start if you have not studied plants before.

The One-day field courses are a bit more challenging. We invite you to become a survey team, studying interesting plants in an interesting place. We send out some lists of plants and ecological lessons for you to study ahead of time; meet at the site and do some warm-up exercises to prepare; hike in and turn you loose in groups to see what you can learn; sit down midday to discuss ecology and identification; and then finish up, again in groups, to hunt for some of the harder-to-find species. The emphasis will be on finding things and identifying them yourselves, and then, with our help, confirming what you have found with the Atlas photographic guides. Everyone is welcome, but prior experience with plant ID will be a help.  More information about this one-day series and other additional courses being offered through the Northern Forest Atlas can be found here:

Two-day introductory courses taught at the VIC (woody plants and mosses):

March 4, and May 13, Paul Smiths VIC, NY: Boreal Woody Plants.  Instructor:   Jerry Jenkins. Two-day introduction. 4 March: Identification by Pattern and Geometry.13 May: Identification by Flowers and New Leaves $285.

May 27-28 , Paul Smiths VIC, NY: Boreal Mosses and Moss Habitats, in the Field, From the Beginning (page 4). Instructors:  Jerry Jenkins and Sue Williams. Two-day introduction. $285


Signing up for any two, one-day programs at either organization location grants you free attendance at a third program at either location. (Contact the VIC at 518-327-6241 or vic@paulsmiths.edu to register for your third field course).  Click on course titles below for additional information and registration.  

Four one-day field courses hosted by the VIC:

June 25, A Dry Fertile Rocky Hill, Bouquet Mountain, Essex, NY, $110

July 15, The Shores of the Oswegatchie, Fine, NY, $110

August 12, Whiteface Mountain Mosses, Bottom to Top, Wilmington, NY, $110

August 13, Mosses of Cold Cliffs and Shores, Chapel Pond, Keene, NY, $110

Three one-day field courses hosted by North Branch Nature Center’s Biodiversity University

June 3, Plant Geography of A Granite Hill, $110

July 22, Mosses & the Dry-rich Community, $110

August 26, The Shores of the Winooski, $110

Instructor Bios:

Brett Engstrom is a survey biologist and ecologist from Marshfield, Vermont; he has over thirty years of field experience in the Northeast and is an expert in identification and ecology of grasses and sedges. He is a long-time Atlas collaborator, the co-author of the Atlas photo-guide to grasses, and the editor of several other guides. He has loved grasses and sedges for almost as long as he can remember. It shows.

Jerry Jenkins is a biologist and ecologist from White Creek, New York, with fifty-five years of professional experience in the Northern Forest Region, and the author of around 20 books and major reports on botany, resource geography, ecological history, and climate change. He founded the White Creek Field School in 1978, and, with Ed McNeil, the Northern Forest Atlas Project in 2012. He designs, writes, photographs, and illustrates the Atlas photo-guides and digital atlases; and is currently at work on the first two volumes of a new series of Atlas field guides, on woody plants and ecological patterns. You may see his work at www.northernforestatlas.org.

Sue Williams is naturalist from Rowe, Massachusetts who has studied mosses for over thirty years, taught them for over twenty-five, and is currently one of the best field bryologists and bryo-teachers in the Northeast. She has collaborated with the Atlas project since the beginning, contributed to every phase of the development of our moss book and digital atlas, and has a new bryo-book, An Ecological Guide to the Mosses & Common Liverworts of the Northeast, coming out from Cornell University Press this spring.




July 15 @ 12:00 AM
September 2 @ 4:30 PM