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Essential Objectives

Course Syllabus

Revision Date: 16-Jul-24

Fall 2024 | ENV-2175-VU01 - Natural and Cultural History of Vermont

In Person Class

Standard courses meet in person at CCV centers, typically once each week for the duration of the semester.

Location: Winooski
Credits: 4
Day/Times: Monday & Wednesday, 08:30A - 11:15A
Semester Dates: 09-04-2024 to 12-16-2024
Last day to drop without a grade: 09-16-2024 - Refund Policy
Last day to withdraw (W grade): 11-04-2024 - Refund Policy
Open Seats: 13 (as of 07-19-24 8:05 PM)
To check live space availability, Search for Courses.
Materials/Lab Fees: $125.00


Heather Fitzgerald
View Faculty Credentials
View Faculty Statement
Hiring Coordinator for this course: Jen Guarino

General Education Requirements

This section meets the following CCV General Education Requirement(s) for the current catalog year:
VSCS Natural Science
  1. Many degree programs have specific general education recommendations. In order to avoid taking unnecessary classes, please consult with additional resources like your program evaluation, your academic program catalog year page, and your academic advisor.
  2. Courses may only be used to meet one General Education Requirement.

Course Description

This course explores the ways in which Vermont's natural environment and its peoples' cultural practices influence each other over time. A natural history overview includes the geology, weather, wildlife, and vegetation of Vermont. A cultural history overview explores human society from post-glacial to present-day time periods to understand how people interact with this changing landscape. Students uncover patterns in the natural and cultural environments that demonstrate both the uniqueness of Vermont and its place within the larger northeast region. Field trips and labs are required.

Essential Objectives

1. Explain the basic ecological principles necessary to interpret past, present, and future trends within natural settings.
2. Describe the geological time scale as it applies to the major geologic events affecting Vermont.
3. Describe and discuss how geological, ecological, and cultural factors shape Vermont's landscape over time.
4. Analyze the causes and effects of Vermont's weather patterns and discuss the implications for Vermont’s ecosystems and species due to climate change.
5. Describe the physiographic regions, biomes, and major ecosystems in Vermont, and explain the abiotic and biotic factors that make each distinct.
6. Connect the effects of climate, vegetation, wildlife, and topography to each other.
7. Explore the ways in which native peoples adapted to post-glacial climate change and consider the ways in which modern Vermonters can adapt to present-day climate change.
8. Describe how culture and the economy influence land and water uses and can be used to exploit groups of people to gain access to natural resources.
9. Analyze Vermont policies and laws that guide natural resource decisions within the state and explore the ways in which such decisions affect the northeast region and the broader world.
10. Explain how knowledge created in the natural sciences has contributed to the creation, maintenance and dismantling of social inequalities and discuss the impacts of diversity and inclusion on scientific research and practice.
Laboratory Objectives:
1. Use field techniques, tools, and resources to identify the major ecosystems in Vermont, describe their ecological functions, and assess their environmental services for humans.
2. Make observations of evidence of human activities on the landscape and conduct research to create hypotheses about past land and water uses.
3. Demonstrate proficiency in understanding, interpreting, applying, and evaluating the accuracy of data and information sources.

Required Technology

More information on general computer and internet recommendations is available on the CCV IT Support page. https://support.ccv.edu/general/computer-recommendations/

Please see CCV's Digital Equity Statement (pg. 45) to learn more about CCV's commitment to supporting all students access the technology they need to successfully finish their courses.

Required Textbooks and Resources

This course uses one or more textbooks/books/simulations, along with free Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials.

Fall 2024 textbook/book details will be available on 2024-05-20. On that date a link will be available below that will take you to eCampus, CCV's bookstore. The information provided there will be specific to this class. Please see this page for more information regarding the purchase of textbooks/books.

ENV-2175-VU01 Link to Textbooks for this course in eCampus.

For Open Educational Resources (OER) and/or library materials details, see the Canvas Site for this class.

The last day to use a Financial Aid Advance to purchase textbooks/books is the 3rd Tuesday of the semester. See your financial aid counselor at your academic center if you have any questions.


Here's what you can expect our days to consist of:

Field trips! Also small group activities, in both field and classroom; student-led discussion; mini-lectures; occasional in-class writing assignments reacting to readings or weekly quizzes, for which you'll be prepared if you're engaged in the class.

Evaluation Criteria

Here's what our assignments will be:

  • Readings from our course texts and links to some additional sources through our Canvas site, which will prepare you to see what we're looking for at our field sites
  • Brief written site reviews to cement what we've seen at our field sites in your brain
  • Time spent weekly making observations and connections
  • A final quiz
  • A field final, which you'll practice with others during class and complete independently.

Grading Criteria

CCV Letter Grades as outlined in the Evaluation System Policy are assigned according to the following chart:

A Less than 9893
A-Less than 9390
B+Less than 9088
B Less than 8883
B-Less than 8380
C+Less than 8078
C Less than 7873
C-Less than 7370
D+Less than 7068
D Less than 6863
D-Less than 6360
FLess than 60 
NPLess than 600

Weekly Schedule

Week/ModuleTopic  Readings  Assignments


Intros, policies, and pieces

Winooski field trips for tree ID, Newcomb's.

  • READ Thompson and Sorenson,Wetland, Woodland, WildlandPart I.
  • READ Wessels,Reading the Forested Landscapeintro and ch 7.
  • CHOOSE one of the following choices: READ Klyza and Trombulak,The Story of Vermontch 1 and ch 2 through pg 27 OR SKIM Wright, "Glacial Geology of the Burlington/Colchester Quadrangle" and LISTEN to Brave Little State geology podcast.

CONSIDER a potential Home Base to visit multiple times this semester.



The layer cake approach and patterns

Monday: Rock Point, Burlington.

Wednesday: Appletree Bay, Starr Farm, and Intervale, Burlington.

  • READ Thompson and Sorenson Parts II and III.
  • READ Marchand,North Woodsexcerpt.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Weeks 1 and 2 sites and submit it here.
  • COMMIT to a Home Base and visit it (submit photo of your notes on the forest floor at your site here).
  • COLLECT at least 5 tree ID and at least 5 pattern scavenger hunt photos (due Week 8, but trust me, just start it now).



Monday: Sterling Pond, Cambridge (extended class: Meet at CCV by 7:30 a.m.).

Wednesday: Barnes Camp, and Cambridge Pines, Cambridge.

  • READ Bruchac, "Native Land Use and Settlements in the Northeastern Woodlands" (link coming by August) OR Brooks, "Every Swamp Is a Castle".
  • READ Power and Petersen, "4000 Years at the Winooski Site".
  • CHOOSE one of the following: READ Klyza and Trombulak ch. 2 pp. 27-51 and Ch. 3 OR READ Foster & Aber ch 4.

For class next Thursday:

  • READ Guyette,Discovering Black Vermont, Introduction, Some Conclusions, and the one chapter you signed up for in class: ch 1, ch 2, ch 3, ch 4, ch 5, or ch 6
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 3 sites.



Monday: Winooski site.

Wednesday: Centennial Woods or Lincoln Hill, Hinesburg.

  • READ Chronicle article.
  • BROWSE journalism on Abenaki membership question.
  • VISIT your Home Base(submit photo of your notes on the forest floor at your site here).

For class next Thursday:

  • WATCH Architectural Styles of Burlington slideshow.
  • READ Dorney blog on barns.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review of our Week 4 sites and submit it here.
  • COLLECTat least 5 history clue scavenger hunt photos (due Week 8, but trust me, just start it now).


More history

Monday: Little River State Park, Waterbury.

Wednesday: Redstone quarry and architectural tour, Burlington.

  • READ Wessels ch 1, 2.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 4 sites and submit it here.
  • FINISH COLLECTING at least 5 photos each for your tree ID, pattern, and history clue scavenger hunts.


Patterns and processes

Monday: Sunny Hollow, Colchester.

Wednesday: Colchester Pond, Colchester.

  • READ this excerpt from Johnson,Bogs of the Northeast.
  • READ this excerpt from Kershner and Leverett,Sierra Club Guide to Ancient Forests of the Northeast.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 6 sites and submit it here.
  • VISIT your Home Base(submit photo of your notes on the forest floor at your site here).
  • (Heads up: We won't really worry about these until after the midterm, but you will need process scavenger hunt photos.)


More patterns and processes

Monday: Break, in repayment of your extra time at Sterling Pond.

Wednesday: Snake Mountain, Addison.

  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 7 sites and submit it here.
  • Take a break, if you need it. Or get a jump on next week's assignments (Wessels ch 3, 4, 5, and 6 and your next Home Base visit), if that fits better for your schedule.


Midterm preparations and midterm "quiz"

Monday: Create and share scavenger hunt slide shows on tree ID, patterns, and history clues.

Wednesday: Midterm "quiz."

  • READ Wessels ch 3, 4, 5, and 6 if you did not do so last week.
  • VISIT your Home Base(submit photo of your notes on the forest floor at your site here) if you did not do so last week.


More patterns and processes

Monday: Indian Brook Reservoir, Essex.

Wednesday: Indian Brook Caves, Colchester.

  • READ your choice of ONE of the following: Klyza and Trombulak ch 4 or 5 or this excerpt from Elder,Reading the Mountains of Home.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 9 sites and submit it here.
  • COLLECT at least 5 photos each for your process scavenger hunt.


More patterns and processes

Monday: Shelburne Bay Park and LaPlatte River, Shelburne.

Wednesday: Williams Woods, Charlotte.

  • READ your choice of ONE of the following: Klyza and Trombulak ch 6, or 7 or this excerpt from Albers,Hands on the Land.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 10 sites and submit it here.
  • VISIT your Home Base(submit photo of your notes on the forest floor at your site here).
  • COLLECT at least 5 photos for your process scavenger hunt.


Home Base and science practice

Monday: Old Mill Park, Jericho.

Wednesday: Science practice, classroom.

  • READ your choice of ONE of the following: Klyza and Trombulak ch 8 OR Wessels ch 8.
  • WRITE a 1-2 page site review on our Week 11 sites and submit it here.
  • FINISH COLLECTING at least 5 photos for your process scavenger hunt in preparation for next week's Student-led Discussion.


Student-led Discussion and first Home Base presentations

Monday: Student-led Discussion on processes, classroom.

Wednesday: First Home Base presentations.

  • READ Foster & Aber ch 7.
  • READ this excerpt from Kimmerer,Braiding Sweetgrass.


Home Base presentations

Monday: Home Base presentations.

Wednesday: Home Base presentations.

  • Take a break, if you need it. Or get a jump on next week's assignments (Climate change readings), if that fits better for your schedule.


Final preparations and midterm "quiz"

Monday: Create and share scavenger hunt slide shows on process clues.

Wednesday: Final "quiz."

  • READ at least 4 choices from this smorgasbord of articles about climate change.


Student-led Discussion and forester visit

Monday: Student-led Discussion on climate change, classroom.

Wednesday: Visit with forester.


Attendance Policy

Regular attendance and participation in classes are essential for success in and are completion requirements for courses at CCV. A student's failure to meet attendance requirements as specified in course descriptions will normally result in a non-satisfactory grade.

  • In general, missing more than 20% of a course due to absences, lateness or early departures may jeopardize a student's ability to earn a satisfactory final grade.
  • Attending an on-ground or synchronous course means a student appeared in the live classroom for at least a meaningful portion of a given class meeting. Attending an online course means a student posted a discussion forum response, completed a quiz or attempted some other academically required activity. Simply viewing a course item or module does not count as attendance.
  • Meeting the minimum attendance requirement for a course does not mean a student has satisfied the academic requirements for participation, which require students to go above and beyond simply attending a portion of the class. Faculty members will individually determine what constitutes participation in each course they teach and explain in their course descriptions how participation factors into a student's final grade.

Missing & Late Work Policy

This pandemic has been a weird and difficult time for most of us and I've been generous with accepting late assignments. However, please note the following:

  • Discussions happen in real time, and therefore can't be made up later. Nobody can participate with you after it's over!
  • I often give specific and actionable feedback, and students who submit assignments on time have the opportunity to respond to my feedback and resubmit the assignments for higher grades. If you turn something in late, I will not have the time (or organization skills!) to give you detailed feedback and look at a resubmission.
  • Sometimes students work incredibly hard and manage to get back on the horse after falling off, but it's a lot harder. My advice is always to turn in a highly imperfect version of the assignment rather than waiting to turn it in till you get it perfect. In my experience, students who get significantly behind have a very difficult time catching up. If I see any issues with an assignment, I'll offer you my comments (on the work, not your personal worthiness, which is a given!) and you can resubmit if you want to. I call it (drumroll)...learning!
  • This course is designed to be done in real time over the weeks we have together. Putting things off and then trying to get it all done at the last moment will not result in the same learning experience. It is also not fair to fellow students (with whom you will not be able to participate in activities with) or to me (who will have to scramble to respond to the crush of your last-minute work). For these reasons, I will feel free to only award half credit to late assignments handed in during the last month of class, especially if we have not worked something out in advance.

Accessibility Services for Students with Disabilities:

CCV strives to mitigate barriers to course access for students with documented disabilities. To request accommodations, please
  1. Provide disability documentation to the Accessibility Coordinator at your academic center. https://ccv.edu/discover-resources/students-with-disabilities/
  2. Request an appointment to meet with accessibility coordinator to discuss your request and create an accommodation plan.
  3. Once created, students will share the accommodation plan with faculty. Please note, faculty cannot make disability accommodations outside of this process.

Academic Integrity

CCV has a commitment to honesty and excellence in academic work and expects the same from all students. Academic dishonesty, or cheating, can occur whenever you present -as your own work- something that you did not do. You can also be guilty of cheating if you help someone else cheat. Being unaware of what constitutes academic dishonesty (such as knowing what plagiarism is) does not absolve a student of the responsibility to be honest in his/her academic work. Academic dishonesty is taken very seriously and may lead to dismissal from the College.