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Course Syllabus Title: WFB / FOR 185 – Winter Tracking Specialty Credits: 2 Instructor: Michael Kessler Meeting dates and times: Course meets 4 consecutive days during the Winter Session from 9:00am -12:00 and 1:00-5:00pm. Please see the Schedule of Courses for exact dates. Location: UVM Jericho Research Forest, 127 Tarbox Road, Jericho, Vermont 05465
Course Description: This course is both unique and complimentary to the other tracking courses (013, 014, 015) in that it affords the student a rare opportunity to ‘walk with the animal’ (fisher and/or fox) over several consecutive days to enter its world, see through its eyes, experience a portion of its winter journey and become expert at identifying its tracks. The odyssey of winter survival for these predators will be touched through reflection, journaling, and blogging their 4-day biography as a class. During this process, students will also learn about themselves and their relationship to the beauty and stillness of the winter landscape. In addition to basic tracking and trailing, advanced winter tracking techniques are introduced including the analysis of snowflake and ice formations to age tracks with confidence. While the other tracking courses aim to connect the student with the earth that holds all the tracks, this course aims to connect the student with the animal, itself. Afterward, students may want to take the other courses in order to be able to repeat this experience on their own under any conditions. (2 credit hours)
Goals: 1. 2. 3. 4. To journey with a fisher and/or fox through their tracks until their experiences upon the landscape are sensed and internalized by the students, themselves. To discover evidence of the fisher’s and/or fox’s movements through the tracks of other animals in the forest. To be able to ‘think like’ the fox and/or the fisher to predict where they have been or will be and then track to confirm. To carry a more holistic sense of the flow of life, the interaction of the elements, and the flow of time within the winter landscape.
Learning Outcomes: 1. 2. 3. Intimate familiarity with the tracks, gait patterns, behavior and temperament of fisher and/or fox. Identify and follow trails to observe the animal’s scenting, interactions, and hunting. Understanding how tracks originate, and age, in snow including reading tracks and trails covered by snow.
4. 5. 6.
-2Experiencing the confluence of actions and reactions that course through predator and prey communities and the roles that the landscape and human presence play in shaping these interactions. Expanding one’s own awareness of the forest through the animals’ awareness of the forest. Synthesizing information from the natural, life, and physical sciences and the humanities into a richer awareness of the forest and its inhabitants.
General Course Information
Course Policies: Prior experience – There are no prerequisites for this course and it does not assume nor require that the student has any background, experience, or education in tracking. Students are simply asked to exhibit an open mind, positive attitude, passion for knowledge, and respect for other creatures. Level of Instruction – This course focuses on the experience of journeying with an animal through its tracks for an extended period of time. Class size is limited to develop and challenge students of all skill levels and backgrounds where the level of instruction is varied to each person. Wide diversity often makes for the most dynamic of class experiences! Assessment of student’s competency is not based upon their level of tracking (which takes much time to develop), but rather on their ability to demonstrate the material taught on a given set of tracks and trails. Preparation and Participation – Two pre-class assignments must be submitted at least 2 days prior to the first class. Repeated excursions from the heated classroom will require hiking in the hills of the Jericho Research Forest in winter. Under favorable conditions up to 1-2 miles will be covered each day. Students are expected to dress accordingly and provide for their own specific needs, e.g. food, hydration etc. There is a 1-hour lunch break in the classroom, with short breaks in the morning and afternoon, conditions permitting. Cell phone use during classroom and outdoor exercises (when not on break) is a distraction to the class and detriment to the tracking and is not permitted. Exceptions may be granted with permission. Transportation – Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the Jericho Research Forest and are strongly encouraged to share rides. Instructor Communications – The UVM Blackboard online learning system is the vehicle for all course work. Email is the mode of instructor communication. Students are responsible for using the Blackboard system and also for receiving messages sent to their UVM email account and/or insuring that their UVM email account is setup to forward their messages accordingly. Attendance Expectations: Attendance is expected at all classes. Students should not register if they know ahead of time that they cannot attend at least 3 of the 4 scheduled classes. Opportunity to makeup a missed class will be afforded, but is dependent upon instructor’s availability and, if for more than 1 person, what works best for the majority attending. Religious observances will be respected with opportunities to make up a missed class. Notification to the instructor is required at, or preferably before, the first class. Contributions in Class: Everyone is expected to participate in both the classroom and the field exercises and to provide for their individual comfort and care as weather dictates. As important, everyone is expected to be a respectful and engaged listener to their colleagues and instructor. Cell phone use during classroom and outdoor exercises (when not on break) is a distraction to the class and detriment to the tracking and is not permitted. Exceptions may be granted with permission.
-3Academic Honesty & Professionalism: Everyone is expected to understand and follow all University of Vermont policies and regulations. Required and/or recommended readings: Recommended reference materials:
ISBN-13: 9780912697109 Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill Publication date: 1/28/1989 Edition description: FLEXI-BOOK Pages: 80 Product dimensions: 4.98 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.32 (d)
Animal Tracking Basics, by Jon Young and Tiffany Morgan Pub. Date: February 2007 Publisher: Stackpole Books Format: Paperback, 304pp Sales Rank: 215,453 ISBN-13: 9780811733267 ISBN: 0811733262
Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Sign
FROM B&N Online Price: $25.00 $22.50 Join Now
Format: Paperback 2nd Edition Pub. Date: March 1999
ISBN13: 9780062735249 ISBN: 0062735241 BINC: 5701617 Edition: Illustrated
Electronic Submissions/Internet Use: The UVM Blackboard online learning system is used for all course announcements, access to course materials, and submissions of work. However, timely submission in alternate formats is allowable if discussed and approved by instructor prior to day of first class.
Grading: The overall class grade is a summation of the following:
-525% Attendance and participation 15% Pre-class journal entry 15% Pre-class discussion post 15% Fisher quiz 15% Fox quiz 15% Pre-class journal entry 100% Format for Expected Work: Blackboard online course journal entries and blog content development. Sample Scoring Rubrics: Grade F No attempt to discern tracks or trails Not completed D Unable to discern fisher and fox tracks and trails Restatement of activities without reflection C Able to discern fisher and fox tracks and trails Repetition of prior reflections and/or instructor comments without new personal insight B Able to discern and glean info about the fisher or fox New personal insights relating to the material presented in class A Able to discern and glean info from/about the entirety of the landscape New personal insights beyond the boundaries and material of the class
Tracking Team’s Fieldwork Tracking Team’s Presentations Journal Reflections
Percentage Contribution of Each Assignment: See “Grading” above. No other graded assignments.
-6Instructional Sequence: Instructional Sequence Timeline Day 1 ‘Readiness’ Day 2 ‘Hitting the Trail’ 9:00 Class Begins 9:00 • Sit Spot exercise to begin aging & debrief • Review course syllabus • How tracks form in winter substrates • Track and trail measurements • Formation of snowflakes • Begin seeing disturbances in snow and/or forest debris • Find disturbances of fisher & fox (individually) • Sit Spot exercise w/ aging & debrief • Gait Patterns Meet at Old Mill Park (Jericho, VT) – Each Team locates its animal’s trail in Old Mill Park • Sit Spot exercise w/ aging & debrief • Cluster Tracking Day 3 ‘Finding Your Animal’ Day 4 ‘Thinking as Your Animal’
2nd Tracking outing: relating animals’ movements to the landscape and their strategies to meet their survival needs
Warm Up w/Hot Drinks at The Village Cup (across from Old Mill Park) – Each Team locates its animal’s trail in Old Mill Park Snowflake Bentley Museum (at Old Mill Park)
5th Tracking outing: sensing the community across animal species and their movements upon the landscape
• Introduction to Tracking Team formation and flow 1st Tracking Outing: identify, measure, and follow fisher / fox • Sit Spot exercise w/ aging & debrief • Team Presentations What was learned about Fisher / Fox today
Sit Spot with aging 12:00-1:00 Lunch Break 3rd Tracking outing: 4th Tracking outing: relating animals’ reading evidence of movements to the animals’ decision points / landscape and their changes in plan strategies to meet their survival needs (Switch animals) • Sit Spot exercise w/ aging & debrief • Team Presentations What was learned about Fisher / Fox today 5:00 PM Class Ends • Sit Spot exercise w/ aging & debrief • Team Presentations What was learned about Fisher / Fox today
6th Tracking outing: Thinking like the animal
• Sit Spot exercise w/ aging & debrief • Team Presentations What was learned about Fisher / Fox today
Directions to the UVM Forest at Jericho at 127 Tarbox Road, Jericho, VT, 05465: 1)From Burlington take I-89 South to exit 11 for Richmond, VT (the next exit after the Tafts Corners exit in Williston) 2)Go left at stop sign at end of exit ramp and head west briefly on Route 2 (you'll go back under 89 and come to a light) 3)Go right at light onto VT 117 4)Go 2.5 miles on 117 and take right onto Barber Farm Road 5)Go .4 miles and turn right onto Tarbox Road 6)Go .75 miles and bear right at the Jericho Research Forest sign and drive a few hundred yards to end of road.
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