Thursday, August 27, 2015

A HUGE Shout-Out to Mrs. Vermont 2015!

Dorilee LeBlanc, AKA Mrs. Vermont 2015, is building her pageant platform around getting kids outside, active, and re-connected with nature, and we have enjoyed an amazing partnership with her this summer. From assisting with our Random Acts of Camping promotion to hiking up Owl's Head to help kids reach their Venture Vermont goals, she has brought boundless energy and fun to parks all over the state.

Stay tuned to find out how to watch her compete in the Mrs. America 2015 Pageant, which will be taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada from September 20-24. We can't wait to see her represent Vermont!

Here's a brief look into a few of the wonderful activities she participated in throughout the summer:

Sand Bar Bonus Activity on the Beach - Sandcastles!

Owl’s Head Picnic Evening Hike and Picnic

And of course, who could forget...she announced the Elmore State Park Random Acts of Camping winners by riding in on a paddle boat!

If you're looking for her on social media, you can visit her Facebook Page Here - be sure to "Like" her page to get updates about Mrs. America broadcasts and where she'll be!

by Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Art in the Parks Continues: Where to Go, What to See

Work by Lynn Sullivan
As most of you know, the Vermont State Parks have been hosting artists in several parks this summer, all of whom have been working on various projects and teaching workshops.

We hope you've gotten the chance to see a few installations in the Of Land and Local program, but if you missed some or are such a fan that you want more, here is a list of who is still out there and some info about what's to come:

Lynn Sullivan at the Groton Nature Center - Multimedia artist

Lynn Sullivan's installation will be up at the Groton Nature Center along the Coldwater Brook Trail (a moderate, family-friendly hike) until September 7th. Her work "plays with language juxtaposed against the backdrop of the natural world," she explains.

Directions: at the trail entrance off the far corner of the parking lot from the Groton Nature Center, walk left along the return leg of the Little Loop Trail. Continue left at next trail junction onto Coldwater Brook Trail in the direction of Big Deer Mountain.

Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray at Shelburne Farms - Natural Media

Work by Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray
Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray are at work on an installation that will stay at Shelburne for seasons to come. Using an invasive species of vine that grows on the property to weave sculptures, they have created an elaborate archway that will serve as an entrance to the installation on the knoll, which is located along the road that leads to the Coach Barn. Their plan is to create a pathway, perhaps with audio elements, that visitors can follow through the shady, wooded area. The pathway will end next to a fully functional, chair-inspired sculpture that looks in the direction of the lake. As one passing child said, "how did the beavers make that?"

The friends and artistic collaborators are also at work on other pieces made from bark and other natural materials found on site, which will be part of the indoor Of Land and Local exhibition at the Coach Barn — that exhibit will feature work from all Of Land and Local artists, and will open to the public on October 1.

Painting by Liz Nelson
Liz Nelson at Elmore State Park - Painting

Join Elizabeth Nelson as she paints nature scenes at Elmore either outdoors or in the Nature Center on Monday, August 24th and Thursday, August 27th from 9am-2pm. Her paintings have evolved over the course of the summer, sharing with visitors a glimpse into the artistic process.

Sculpture by Riki Moss
A few completed projects: 

Riki Moss at Grand Isle State Park - Sculpture

Riki Moss completed her project, which included making models for casting, with a great workshop at Grand Isle on August 17th. During her residency, Riki worked in her nearby studio and in the park to create evocative and imaginative "watchers" inspired by the lake's underwater creatures and Herman Melville's epic, Moby Dick.

Art Contributed to Rebecca Schwarz' "Land(e)scape"
Rebecca Schwarz at Button Bay - Sculpture

Rebecca Schwarz created a piece at Button Bay State Park called "Land(e)scape," a sculpture made from the "beautiful, ordinary, and strange plastics I have been saving for years," the artist explains. Workshop participants contributed their own art to the sculpture, which will be displayed at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms in the fall.

The Vermont State Parks would like to thank Burlington City Arts and everyone who has contributed to the artist residencies, and of course, the artists themselves - these installations bring a new element to the parks and we hope to continue the Of Land and Local program for years to come.

We recently received this thank-you note from Rebecca Schwarz regarding her stay at Button Bay State Park, and thought we might share it in the hopes that visitors realize what a great experience art can be for everyone involved in the process.

An Open Message of Thanks for the Of Land and Local Residency

From the Lake Room in the Nature Center at Button Bay

I can hear the lapping of the Lake, the creatures – birds, insects, small mammals and people. Exploring, I see the raw edges of the land meeting the lake. Small peaks in the lake look like the Adirondacks in the distance and the rocks - ancient fossilized sea floor.
The residency is a joy, an honor and a deeply nourishing experience.

Thank you.

Thank you for the coves, the ancient rocks embedded with fossils - layers of life over the eons and ages built up. An edge of record - bits of what was here before us. What a powerful place to create and contemplate our abundant material culture, and what we leave behind.

Making plastic ‘fossils’ inspired by the environment, geology, the lake, watershed, the woven roots in the forest, the rocks in slabs slightly peeled open, in the house that was built by the niece of an art dealer is a complete honor.

Button Bay State Park is a jewel – packed with beauties both obvious and hidden. In such a small space so much wildness and connection available to it. I am thrilled and sad that I have these last three days in residence here. I will continue to sing the praises of the park after, and through the piece for the Of Land and Local show. The inspiration found here through the landscape and interacting with the many visitors will continue beyond this piece.

Kyle Wagner, Christine Paluga and the staff at the park have been so helpful. Christine has been an exceptional interpreter connecting me and other visitors to the history and ecology of the place, helping me learn to feel at home in this place.

What a very special place! Many Thanks to all of the people and groups that made this possible!


We hope to see you out there!
by Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Muckross Youth Day Camp and the Vermont State Parks

The inaugural summer of the Muckross Youth Day Camp is currently underway in Springfield, VT, and is serving more than one hundred Springfield youth in Grades 1 through 8!

The camp is a result of the state’s ongoing acquisition of the estate of the late Edgar May. Called "Muckross," the property is slated to become the newest Vermont State Park once the property transfer becomes official. Edgar May, the first national assistant director of AmeriCorps' VISTA program 50 years ago, bestowed his property to the state with the premise that it be used to provide outdoor recreational and
educational opportunities with an emphasis on Springfield youth and elders.

Terry Carroll, a native of western New York, is a VISTA volunteer serving with Vermont State Parks since last August. He has led the summer camp project from its inception, and is serving as de-facto camp director this summer.

"It has been a very rewarding experience,” Carroll says. “Having the opportunity to see the program through has been a tremendous challenge, but it is great to see the results in action.”

 In addition to its work with the summer camp, the NCCC team (National Civilian Community Corps) is also working with the state parks to remove invasive plant species from Wilgus State Park and Mt. Ascutney State Park. Each week, as half of the team members travel to the day camp from their temporary residence at Mt. Ascutney State Park where they are camping in lean-tos and tents, the other half works to remove garlic mustard, honeysuckle, barberry and other invasive plants from the two neighboring state parks. Armed with gloves, weed wrenches, loppers and a steely resolve to remove the terrestrial invaders, the team has already eradicated much of the invasive plant population at Wilgus State Park. Next they move to Mt. Ascutney where they will work to do the same.

 “The work they are accomplishing at Wilgus and Mt. Ascutney is critical to helping reduce the spread of invasive plants in these areas,” says Parks Regional Manager Ethan Phelps. “This is work that needs to be done, but we don’t have the staff resources to tackle it alone.”

This work will continue until August 7, when the Muckross Youth Day Camp completes its inaugural summer. Carroll will leave soon after, when his term of service ends in mid-August. At that time he will be replaced by a new VISTA member who will be tasked with taking his place identifying and developing partnerships, and working to ensure the success of the day camp for its second season and beyond.

“Terry has been a tremendous asset to Vermont State Parks,” Phelps says. “The next VISTA member has big shoes to fill. But Terry has laid the framework to help ensure her success and the future success of the project.”

Friday, July 17, 2015

Accessibility in the Vermont State Parks

Accessible Lean-to at Jamaica State Park
The Vermont State Parks have been taking strides to make our campgrounds and facilities more accessible to visitors with varying needs. Many of our pavilions and picnic areas are universally accessible and we're doing more every day to increase trail and water accessibility as well. One of our current projects is taking place at Waterbury Center State Park, where we are linking the parking area, swimming beach, and picnicking areas with ADA accessible paths!

Searching through our system to locate accessible campsites and activities can be challenging, so we've compiled a brief list to make it a little easier. One thing to keep in mind when looking through our interactive campground maps is that any site listed as "universally accessible" is within 150 feet of drinking water, toilet facilities and showers.

For Lovers of the Outdoors:
Stowe Recreation Path
Smugglers’ Notch State Park – *ask for tent site #4 or Oak lean-to*
Smugglers' Notch is a great option for anyone looking a hike with lovely views as well as access to restaurants, lodges, and local businesses in Stowe,VT. Why is that? The Stowe Recreation Path is a 5.3 mile paved multi-use trail that criss-crosses the West Branch of the Little River. For more details check out their website. The town of Stowe also hosts the Smugglers' Notch Adaptive Programs, which are primarily for kids but do have some options for adults.

Jamaica State Park – *ask for Briar lean-to*
Similar to the Stowe Recreation path, Jamaica State Park provides access to the West River Trail, a 16 mile long universally accessible converted rail bed with a packed gravel and (in some areas) packed sand surface. This trail also provides access to Cobb Brook, one of the Vermont State Park's featured nature relaxation spots!

For Anglers and Adventurers:
Shorefishing Platform at Kent Pond
Gifford Woods State Park – *ask for Alder lean-to, Moose cabin, Coyote Cabin, or Whitetail cabin*
Gifford Wood State Park is a great option if you're looking for a smaller, more secluded campground with some good fishing. Across the street is access to Kent Pond and the Kent Pond shorefishing platform, both great spots to relax and unwind with fish and family.

Scenic Gondola at Killington
If you prefer a more exciting adventure, head over to the nearby Killington Adventure Center, where you'll find two scenic lift rides (the open-air Snowshed Express Quad and the K-1 Express Gondola), a Terra Maze, and motorized Utility Terrain Vehicle mountain tours that are all wheelchair accessible. Their Snowshed Pond is also accessible, with some sand and rock just at the water's edge. And as if that wasn't enough, their 4,800 ft alpine "Beast Mountain Coaster" will also be accessible, and opens in late July or early August!

For History and Arts Buffs:
Molly Stark State Park– *ask for Cherry lean-to (accessible picnic pavilion as well)*
Located along the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway, our state park is on the main east-west route in Southern Vermont that connects Brattleboro, Wilmington, and Bennington, which provides anyone interested in history or the arts some great opportunities to explore each of those towns. Bennington in particular is home to numerous museums and historic sites, and Wilmington's Memorial Hall Center for the Arts hosts movie screenings, television festivals, and live music which is sure to satisfy anyone looking for a bit of culture!

Quechee State Park – *ask for Hemlock lean-to*
Falcon Demonstration at Vermont Institute of Natural Science
A long-time favorite park for sightseers and anglers, Quechee State Park has access to the Quechee Gorge Visitor Center and the gorge itself (wheelchair accessible from the bridge by the visitor center), Quechee Gorge Village for shopping and dining, and is only fifteen minutes away from the Vermont Institute of Natural Science and Nature Center, with tons of exhibits, activities, and live shows. There's a wildlife rehabilitation clinic in the nature center, live raptor shows, and accessible nature trails on the property.

Mt. Philo
For a Little of Everything: 
Little River State Park - *Ask for tent sites 44 or 80, or Spruce lean-to*
If you're not sure what kinds of activities you're looking for, or want access to everything from woods to nightlife, Little River State Park in Waterbury is probably your best bet. Its proximity to Burlington (40 minute drive) gives it access to everything the city and surrounding area has to offer: bike paths, recreational trails, and even an adaptive sports complex that offers pick-up games. If you're looking to stick closer to the campground, the Stowe Recreational Path (mentioned above) is a half hour away as well.

Depending on where you decide to camp, Vermont Adaptive Sports can schedule daily, weekend, or even weekly outings specific to your group, which range from climbing, paddling, hiking, biking, sailing, trips to museums, horseback riding and more. Contact if you're looking for a grand, planned adventure, or check out Inclusive Vermont, a part of that has a myriad of resources for planning a getaway tailored to your needs.

The Vermont State Parks constantly seek to make our parks more easily accessible to every current and prospective visitor who comes our way. Hopefully this mini-guide helps with your summer plans, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to contact us at (888) 409-7579.

See you out there!

By Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Mrs. Vermont 2015 Teams Up with Vermont State Parks

We go together like pageantry and parks! Dorilee LeBlanc, AKA Mrs. Vermont 2015, is building her pageant platform around getting kids outside, active, and re-connected with nature, and we couldn't be happier to help.

"There are so many reasons why I love this challenge," says Dorilee. "It encourages folks to get outside and be active; it's free or super affordable; and it creates a bonding experience and goals to reach as a family."

This summer, Dorilee will be visiting several state parks to do activities with kids that will also count toward their Venture Vermont Outdoor Challenges. She already assisted us in the awarding of our first Random Acts of Camping certificate at Elmore State Park, and is gearing up for a grand tour of the parks on the following dates:

Friday, July 17th, 10am-1pm: Sand Bar State Park for Sandcastles and Creatures
Sunday, July 26th, 11am-1pm: Waterbury Center State Park for a Nature Trail Scavenger Hunt
Saturday, August 1st, 10am-noon: Mt. Philo State Park for a Summit Hike
Sunday, August 9th, 11am-1pm: Kingsland Bay State Park for Lawn Games and/or Water Fun
Saturday, August 15th, 11am: Little Loop Trail Hike from Groton Nature Center
Saturday, August 15th, 5:30pm: Picnic Dinner on Owl's Head (meet at Groton Nature Center)

Don't forget to bring your Venture Vermont Score Sheets to these events to take advantage of the points! We can't wait to see you out there getting active with Mrs. Vermont and the Vermont State Parks.

by Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Of Land and Local" Brings Artists to Several Vermont State Parks

By Rebecca Shwarz
Burlington City Arts (BCA), in conjunction with Vermont State Parks, Shelburne Farms and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park, are pleased to announce Of Land & Local 2015, the 3rd annual statewide exploration of contemporary art. Of Land & Local is an annual multidisciplinary, statewide project designed to initiate a dialogue about issues surrounding art and the environment. New this year is a partnership with Vermont State Parks, which allows artists to be in summer residencies in select parks through August, as well as at Shelburne Farms and Marsh Billings.

Artists will be in residence at these locations making new work that responds directly to their specific location. This work created in the parks, along with additional work from 14 artists total, will be exhibited at Shelburne Farms from October 1 - 18, 2015, and at The BCA Center on Church Street in Burlington from September 25 - November 14, 2015. Click here for full details about the residencies and exhibitions.

By Alyssa Oxley
“We are so pleased to be part of the Of Land and Local partnership. State Parks have always been perfect places for nature inspired art of all kinds and this program allows us a chance to really showcase that value,” said Craig Whipple, Director of Vermont State Parks.

Artists will be in residence at Vermont State Park locations from late June through August. Many artists will be available to visit with while they are working. Visit the project website or the park office to determine whether an artist is currently on site. Project Curatorial Assistant Xian Chiang-Waren will be visiting the artists in residency and posting weekly updates from each location on the project blog.


By Wendy Copp
Button Bay State Park
Artist in residence:
Alyssa Oxley - from Vergennes, VT - Kiln formed glass inspired by nature
Rebecca Schwarz - from Burlington, VT - Participatory, post-consumer plastic sculpture

Residency Schedule: Alyssa Oxley has been sketching on site during June and early July and will be constructing her kiln formed glass panels in her studio in Vergennes. Alyssa’s onsite schedule will be updated on the project website. 

Rebecca Schwarz will be conducting two open studio weekends at the Nature Center in August. Please join Rebecca on August 7-9, and August 14-16. Visitors will have the opportunity to participate in the creation of Rebecca’s sculpture that embodies visions and revisions of the land, and dreams, nightmares and questions of the Earth. The materials come from discarded things we have on hand collectively and individually: plastics, trash, packaging, and other discarded and found materials.

Kingsland Bay State Park
Artist in residence: Alyssa Oxley
Alyssa Oxley has been sketching on site during June and early July and will be constructing her kiln formed glass panels in her studio in Vergennes. Alyssa’s onsite schedule will be updated on the project website.

By Elizabeth Nelson
Grand Isle State Park
Artist in residence: Riki Moss - from Grand Isle, VT - Imaginative mixed media creatures with an environmental focus

Residency Schedule: Riki Moss will be working at the Nature Center at Grand Isle State Park from 10am – 2pm on Sundays and Mondays, July 12 through August 17.

Elmore State Park
Artist in residence: Elizabeth Nelson - from West Glover, VT - Plein air painting in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom

Residency Schedule: Elizabeth Nelson will paint outdoors at Elmore State Park or in the Nature Center at the Park Tuesdays and Thursdays during the months of July and August. As her residency is weather dependent, we will update her schedule weekly on the project website.

By Lynn Sullivan
Groton Nature Center
Artist in residence: Lynn Sullivan - from Adamant, VT - A study of language in juxtaposition with the natural world

Residency Schedule: Lynn Sullivan will install her work in the landscape at Groton Nature Center during early August. We will post the installation dates and artwork locations on the project website once they have been determined.

Shelburne Farms
Artist in residence: Wendy Copp, Angelo Arnold, and Susan Raber Bray - from Burlington & Charlotte, VT - Functional forms constructed from grape vines

Residency Schedule: Wendy Copp and Susan Raber Bray will continue their project at Shelburne Farms mid- August from 9:00 am -1:00 pm Monday through Friday. The specific schedule for August will be on the project website once determined. Their first finished sculpture is currently visible, situated on a tree covered knoll by the Farm Road and walking path and can be viewed when heading west toward the lake.

By Lyal Michel
Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park
Artist in residence: Lyal Michel - from Tunbridge, VT - Contemporary narrative paintings in dialogue with the Marsh Billings Rockefeller collection

Residency Schedule: Lyal Michel will be in residence at the Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park from August 15th to September 15th. Lyal’s painting studio will be based in the rehabilitated Rockefeller Horse Shed and he plans to paint plein air within the park grounds as well. Lyal will set up an art related activity for the public at The Marsh Billings Community Day, taking place on August 22nd, 2015.


Stella Marrs from Burlington, VT

A performative exploration of feminism, the environment, and community

Olga Koumoundouros from Los Angeles, CA
A Coast to Coast examination of class and labor within a precarious economy

Jeroen Jongeleen from Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Pushing the human body to its limits, while considering its impact on our surroundings

Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees from Hinesburg, VT
An installation drawing attention to Vermont’s often marginalized past

Jim Westphalen from Shelburne, VT
Capturing the decay of the built landscape in rural America

BCA Contact: Eric Ford 802-865-5355 or
Vermont State Parks contact: Rochelle Skinner 802-522-0841 or

By Jeroen Jongeleen
Of Land & Local 2015 is sponsored by Seven Days and the Vermont Department of Tourism, and produced in conjunction with Vermont State Parks, Shelburne Farms and Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Of Land & Local is part of Vermont Arts 2015, a project of the Vermont Arts Council, and is funded in part by a grant from the Vermont Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Farrell Distributing, Harpoon Brewery, Fluid Bar Service, Aqua Vitea and Bluebird Tavern are proud sponsors of BCA Center exhibitions and events. Of Land and Local 2015 is an important part of Burlington City Arts, celebrating over 30 years of supporting the arts, which is dedicated to the promotion of excellence, experimentation, and education in all forms of contemporary art. For more information about gallery exhibitions, special events, classes and workshops, please call 802.865.7166 or visit BURLINGTONCITYARTS.ORG.

Friday, June 26, 2015

ECHO Center, Smokey Bear, and Woodsy Owl Promotion!

This year, the Vermont State Parks are teaming up with ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center to run a great promotion that entitles overnight campers to use their receipt in exchange for $4 admission to the ECHO Leahy Center for a group of up to four people! ECHO members are also eligible for free day-use parks passes to any of our awesome state parks, and the promotion runs until September 13. 

ECHO is currently featuring an awesome exhibit called “Home Sweet Home” with Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl, and other furry critters to teach kids how to care for our planet, it’s natural resources, and about what is important to know when you head out into the woods. Kids have a chance to explore a Ranger Station, build bird houses, learn about native plants, and even get a mini forestry lesson.

In the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” Rain Garden, children learn to reclaim water and help a pretend raindrop find its way from shed roof to rain barrel, then to feed flowers and vegetables to help them grow. “Would You Believe it Come From a Tree” offers a new perspective on wood products and demonstrates growth cycles. There’s even a “Find It In the Forest Trail,” which encourages coordination with a balance beam, tipsy bridge, hollow stump and rock climbing wall for kids to explore.

A campsite helps young adventurers understand fire safety with sing-alongs, tent shadow puppets, and the fire lookout tower, which gives everyone an inside look at forests, reforestation, and how wildfires affect the woods.

Every other Friday from 10 a.m. until noon, the Burlington Fire Department will help Smokey work to prevent fires by bringing different fire trucks and equipment to the exhibit! Check out all their cool gear, and get safety tips from the pros.

We’re so excited to be in ca-hoots with Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl, so please take advantage of this great promotion and check out the Home Sweet Home exhibit at the ECHO Leahy Center! 

by Carlie Timbie
Vermont State Parks