The Legend Of Don Dicisco

Lost Nation, Essex, Vermont

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Over the course of the day, a team of ecologists will offer talks, walks, demonstrations, readings, and exhibits.

A group of on site naturalists will be spread throughout the property, engaging Legend-goers in open discussion.

Below is a partial list of participants. Full schedule will be available soon.

Tom Wessels

Tom Wessels

Tom will present a slide presentation based on his book, "Reading the Forested Landscape, A Natural History of New England." The talk and presentation will introduce Legend-goers to approaches used to interpret a forest's history while wandering through it. Using evidence such as the shapes of trees, scars on their trunks, the pattern of decay in stumps, the construction of stone walls, and the lay of the land, it is possible to unravel complex stories etched into our forested landscape. This process could easily be called forest forensics, since it is quite similar to interpreting a crime scene.

Tom Wessels' most recent work, "The Myth of Progress and the Laws of Sustainability" will be released by University of New England Press this summer. He is also the author of "The Granite Landscape: A Natural History of America's Mountain Domes, from Acadia to Yosemite." Tom is a professor of Ecology and founding director of the Masters Degree Program in Conservation Biology in the Department of Environmental Studies at Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, New Hampshire. He is former Chair of the Robert and Patricia Switzer Foundation which fosters environmental leadership through graduate fellowships and organizational grants. He has conducted workshops on the natural history of landscapes throughout the United States for more than 25 years. When not traveling or teaching, Tom spends his time with his family in Westminster, Vermont exploring the woods around their home.

"It is wonderful to know nature through one-on-one encounters with other organisms, but it is perhaps more empowering to gain a fuller understanding of the patterns that have shaped its landscapes. Through some knowledge of history and the broader view of seeing a forest and not just its trees, we begin to see the forces that shape a place. This new way of seeing creates reverence, respect, a sense of inclusion and accountability. Reading the landscape is not just about identifying landscape patterns; more importantly, it is an interactive narrative that involves humans and nature. For those interested in enhancing their sense of place, I know of no better way than by becoming intimately acquainted with their local forests and the fascinating stories they tell." Tom Wessels 1997

* Photo Credit: Sarah Strong, Androscoggin Land Trust

Dan Wells

Dan Wells, also known as Dr.Grosbeak, will help coordinate the team of naturalists and will be leading a walk entitled: "Birds Glorious Birds."

Dan began his career in field biology with Hyla Ecological Services in 1997, shortly after receiving his B.S. in Biology from Gettysburg College. He has been involved in a variety of vernal pool and wetland research projects, including rare species surveys and amphibian mark-recapture studies. He went to graduate school at the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, receiving an M.S. in Conservation Biology in 2001. Focusing on avian biology, he developed multivariate models that predict bird distribution in the St. Lawrence Valley of New York state.

Dan returned to Hyla in 2002, where he has been responsible for field research, GIS mapping, and data analysis.

For more information regarding Dan Wells and Hyla Ecological Services, please visit:

Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS)

VINS will be presenting the Raptor Encounter program. This first-hand encounter with live falcons, hawks and owls focuses on the natural history, ecology and adaptations of these efficient predators. Participants learn what adaptations make a bird a raptor. The Raptor Encounter is a great introduction to these specialized flying hunters. Touchable artifacts and hands-on materials round out this special experience.

To learn more about VINS, please visit:

Julie Lisk and Tom Murray

Tom Murray

Julie and Tom will help lead a walk entitled: "Plants, Bugs, and the Birds that need them." Julie Lisk is a field biologist who has assisted with private and public projects surveying state-listed reptile and amphibian species in Massachusetts. She produced a thesis project in Radcliffe Seminars on incorporating sustainable ecological habitat and modern housing needs. Julie gives a great deal of her time to activities that have community benefit and assist in the preservation of wildlife and improvement of human co-existence with endangered species. Tom Murray is an avid birdwatcher, bug collector and is a freelance photographer.

Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team

The Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team will be offering a demonstration entitled: "Reptiles and Amphibians of Vermont and the World." This show is unique opportunity to see local and exotic snakes, and other reptiles and amphibians, close up. Rick Roth, Snakeman and Director of the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team, will share some of his favorite animals and talk about their lives and habits.

On-site Naturalists

Monica Erhart: Having recently come to Vermont from the Sierra Nevadas of California, Monica is a graduate student in the University of Vermontís Field Naturalist program. Since getting her B.A. in Biology from Lewis & Clark College, Monica has been involved with projects ranging from salamander population dynamics in the Northwest to small mammals on Mt. St. Helens to plant-pollinator interactions in the Colorado Rockies. Her experience has also brought her into the field of environmental education, where she led interpretive walks in Yosemite and taught hands-on science at a public outdoor school for before coming east.

Kate Westdijk: Kate grew up in Cabot, Vermont with her parents and younger twin brothers. From watching tadpoles hatch in a jar on the kitchen table in elementary school to exploring the 130 acres of forest around her home, she developed an early interest in the natural world and pursued that interest through High School and at Smith College. A desire for interdisciplinary training in ecology, social sciences and economics led her to the University of Vermont. She is pursuing a Masterís in Natural Resources through the Ecological Planning program with a Certificate in Ecological Economics. Her Masterís research focusing on strengthening the capacity of UVMís Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources to engage in projects with local communities. In the future, Kate hopes to work with communities to find a similar balance that couples ecological and social health with a healthy economy.