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Getting to Know Your Place

woman in stream, white woman, blue tank top, woods no leaves
Erica Hample, a master’s student through the UVM Field Naturalist program, has partnered with the city of Montpelier to develop an ecological assessment of Hubbard Park and North Branch River Park. Hample will be presenting "“Ecology of Hubbard Park" on October 29 at the park as part of a series of PLACE based events. Courtesy photo.
If you ever wanted to know more about the Capital City, now’s the time. The North Branch Nature Center, the Montpelier Conservation Commission and the Parks Department have teamed up to bring a series of community events all about Montpelier: its history, its buildings, its ecology, and more. Several of the events in the seven-part series have already happened, but four more are coming up, starting Saturday, Oct. 22 with “History on the Land: Hubbard Park.”

The  Montpelier “PLACE” project – or “Place-based Landscape Analysis & Community Engagement” – is the brainchild of ecologist Walter Poleman, professor of the field naturalist program at the University of Vermont, said Conservation Commissioner Page Guertin. PLACE can also be described as “a community education program for Vermont towns” according to the PLACE website, uvm.edu/place/.

As part of this program, a UVM field graduate student, Erica Hample, has completed an ecological assessment of Montpelier’s parks over the summer. The three local groups leading the project shared grant awards and budgeted funds to pay Hample $6,000 for her work over the summer. And no small task it was. Hample is leading one of the upcoming programs “The Ecology of Hubbard Park” on October 29. 

All PLACE programs are free: 

Saturday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. “History on the Land: Hubbard Park.” Meet at the Old Shelter parking lot. “Peel back the layers of Hubbard Park with landscape historian Samantha Ford of Turn Stone Research. Discover Montpelier’s history and the origin of the conservation movement using hidden clues in the form of stone walls, witness trees, barbed wire, and more,” states the North Branch Nature Center website.

Saturday, Oct. 29, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “Ecology of Hubbard Park.” Meet at the New Shelter. “Join field naturalist Erica Hample for a guided group exploration of the most special places in Hubbard Park. Erica’s work creating a new ecological assessment of the park has uncovered a complicated land use history, a strong conservation ethic, and exciting geological formations.”

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. “Montpelier’s Built Environment.” North Branch Nature Center. “Discover the history of downtown Montpelier with Paul Carnahan, author of Montpelier: Images of Vermont’s Capital City. We will examine how the city’s buildings and bridges have responded to the natural environment and defined our community.”

Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. “Montpelier Underfoot.” North Branch Nature Center. “Discover how Montpelier’s local geologic and geographic setting has shaped the city’s modern infrastructure, architecture and personality. Led by Sean Beckett of North Branch Nature Center. This two part event includes a Friday evening presentation followed by a field outing on Saturday morning.  Attendance at one day of the event is not mandatory for participation in the other. The field outing will include less than a half-mile of walking on mostly flat, wide trails.

Saturday, Nov. 19, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. “Montpelier Underfoot.” North Branch Nature Center.”

According to the North Branch website, “The [PLACE] program is supported by Hunger Mountain Co-op, the Vermont Community Foundation, and the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. The PLACE Program is an initiative of the University of Vermont and Shelburne Farms.”