Musings of a disgruntled graduate student

In my “real life,” as Dan, our Outreach Director refers to it, I am a graduate student at the University of Vermont. In my “other" life (which I also consider to be real), I am part-time office staff at Yestermorrow. My graduate research at UVM involves studying rare plant populations in the GreenMountainNational Forest in Vermont. Particularly, I am studying the ecology and population biology of rare plant Eastern Jacob’s ladder (see pretty picture to the right). At Yestermorrow, I am the person on the other end of the phone line, and the one who processes course registrations.

Throughout my 4-year-long pursuit of a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution, I’ve learned a great deal about science, conservation, and academia. My problem (or great attribute, depending on how you look at it!) is my inability to focus singly on one single thing for 4+ years (a.k.a. the Dissertation). Mostly because I believe that ecology isn’t just about studying the interaction between plants and pollinators or plants and herbivores, but rather about the entire natural system of interconnections, especially those between humans and living organisms. We humans are so instrumentally involved in altering the natural systems that have evolved over many thousands of years. It would be ludicrous for me, as an ecologist, to disregard our species’ enormous ecological impact over recent years.

This belief was part of what brought me to Yestermorrow, a place of radical ecology, unconventional thought and a strong sense of community. What we do here is exciting and extremely relevant. Yestermorrow is a place to stretch out, open your mind, and throw out any preconceived notions. My formal education as an ecologist is ultimately complimented by the courses at Yestermorrow which touch on not only the world of design/build, but also about human ecology and living in accordance with nature.

Paradigm shifts only happen when enthusiastic people join together to educate and create change – Yestermorrow is burgeoning great thinkers! To paraphrase a quote from an incredible book Edible Forest Gardens by Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier... don’t give me academic ponderings, give me practical action!