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Spring Newsletter 2024

 
“It is good to realize that, if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature’s gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever.”                                                                     Jimmy Carter

IN THIS ISSUE -Logo Announcement-Conference Info- Website Update-Annual Visioning Meeting- Call For Presenters-Spring Tracking Events-Field Note by Will Close  

Northeast Wildlife Trackers Has A New Logo!
We thought it was time to give Northeast Wildlife Trackers logo a new look. A focus on animal tracks and a northeast compass rose arrow help to emphasize our region of interest. Kudos to Andrea Bickford, whose talents include graphic designer. And she sifted through the many suggestions from the rest of the team, incorporating them into the logo.Thank you, Andrea!   

A Conference Is Coming!
Registration opens June 15 
A Weekend of Learning Awaits October 18-20, 2024
Prindle Pond Conference Center, Charlton, MA  

Call For Presenters
The Northeast Wildlife Trackers are inviting presentations and workshop proposals from knowledgeable and enthusiastic wildlife trackers. 
Who Should Submit a Proposal?
We welcome submissions from individuals who reach or represent marginalized communities, possess tracking techniques to share, teach tracking to children, utilize tracking data, contribute to scientific research, specialize in tracking a particular species, engage in community science tracking projects, employ techniques that make tracking accessible to the public, utilize current technology for data collection, or focus on tracking for conservation planning. We also encourage proposals on other related topics of interest! 
Your Audience
You will share your tracking knowledge with attendees of varied backgrounds and skill levels, ranging from beginners to experts. Anticipate spending quality time with like-minded individuals, fostering a more cohesive Northeast wildlife tracking community. 
Outdoor Workshops and Facilitating Field Opportunities
Over the years, participants have consistently expressed a desire for ‘more field time.’ We encourage you to include on-site, hands-on outdoor learning experiences at the 600-acre Prindle Pond property.  
Submit a Proposal
You can download the document or complete the online form at: https://northeastwildlifetrackers.org/call-for-presenters/  
Northeast Wildlife Trackers-On Track to a New Website Look!     
With all the enthusiasm and changes that NWT is undergoing this year we thought it would only be appropriate to also update our look and engagement with a new website! A few highlights included and to come soon are:Easily find engaging tracking stories as told by members of our community with searchable field notes Quiz yourself on track images or check out conference and program pictures in our new photo galleryFind upcoming events by tracking practitioners and educators all over the NortheastGet ready for this year’s conference and check out our archives 
Please visit www.northeastwildlifetrackers.org and tell us what you think.  

Annual Visioning Meetingby Rebecca Houghton
As one of the newest members of the Northeast Wildlife Trackers Planning Team, I am honored to share what transpired during our annual visioning meeting at High Pocket Farm this February. This remarkable event demonstrated what collaboration, visioning, and planning can look like when done really well. Our full and productive weekend was punctuated by cooking, sharing meals together, collaborating on couches, and of course, taking breaks to track wildlife through the surrounding landscape. 
Highlights from our Weekend: 
Welcoming New Members: 
The current Planning Team, including Pat Liddle, Pam Landry, Amy Martinez Beal, and Kelly Klingler warmly welcomed new members Andi Bickford, Bryan DiFabio, Becca Houghton, and Dave Boynton in 2024. The entire team’s bios can be viewed here 
Reaffirming our Mission and Vision: 
Revisiting our mission and vision, we reaffirmed our commitment to organizing, uplifting, and inspiring a diverse community of wildlife trackers. We envision an inclusive space where individuals from all backgrounds share a passion for tracking and foster connections across social and geographic boundaries. 
Focus on Engagement and Accessibility: 
A significant focus was placed on engagement throughout the year and ensuring accessibility to all. We discussed strategies for engaging complementary groups and providing platforms for diverse voices within our community.

Updates to NWT: 
We planned and began to make some exciting changes to update the look and feel of NWT. We will be rolling these out over the upcoming months, so keep your eyes out for emails, Facebook posts, and newsletters. To start, check out our fresh new logo above! Special thanks to Andi Bickford for her creative work on this design. 
Continuing as a Resource: 
A major focus of our meeting was outlining ways for NWT to remain a valuable resource for our growing community. Our strategies include creating pathways to welcome more individuals into our community, enhancing our website, boosting online engagement (particularly through social media), introducing new methods to engage and support affiliates, and, most importantly, expanding our access fund to ensure that the annual conference is accessible to a wider audience. 
Exploration: 
In the afternoons, the team explored the beautiful property, indulging in our passion for tracking. We found the trail of a raccoon (pretending to be a fisher), plenty of signs of beavers and squirrels, evidence of a red fox’s recent hunt, and an active otter den! We all departed on Sunday with full bellies and a packed schedule for the upcoming months. Excited to put our ideas into action, we’re gearing up for the 2024 annual conference, which feels like it’s right around the corner! Leaving the visioning meeting, I found myself filled with an even deeper appreciation for the remarkable dedication, time, and effort that individuals have consistently poured into NWT over the years. It became clear to me the substantial hours and tremendous love that have been invested to build this legacy within our community. I am profoundly grateful to now be part of the team entrusted with carrying this torch forward. While our shared passion for wildlife tracking ignites the flame, it is our community that fuels NWT’s journey. To each and every one of you, we extend our heartfelt gratitude. 

TRACKING EVENTS CALENDAR

CENTRAL NEW ENGLAND 
Spur Wander: Tracking & Perception: A Three-Season Series:  Three weekends afield honing our process, approach, & perception as trackers, Led by Daniel Hansche, May 4-5, July 6-7, September 28-29, Central New England depending on location of participants. Spur Wander 

MAINE
Lead with Nature: Birding by Ear: Baby Bird Season: Learn to understand the vocalizations of busy bird families, Led by Dan Gardoqui, June 29, Wells, ME Lead With Nature 
Lead with Nature: SpringWings: A Birding Apprenticeship:  Small group learning about the lives of birds, Led by Dan Gardoqui, June 15, York, ME Lead With Nature 
Lead with Nature: Wildlife Track & Sign by the Sea: Birds, Mammals, Inverts and More in the Sand, Led by Dan Gardoqui, July 14, Wells, ME Lead With Nature 
Lead with Nature: Wildlife Track & Sign Evaluation w/ Nate Harvey, 2-day workshop and certification on track and sign, Led by Nate Harvey & Dan Gardoqui, September 21 & 22, York, ME, Lead With Nature
Molly “Bones” Expeditions” Personalized nature and tracking expeditions: Individualized nature and wildlife tracking expeditions. Led by Molly “Bones” Nelson. Ongoing in Cornish, Maine foothills of the White Mountains. For More Info 
Feather & Bones: Women’s Nature Immersion & Wildlife Tracking. Healing art, ceremony, and wildlife tracking adventures for women. Led by Molly ‘Bones’ Nelson and Danielle Marple. 1 weekend each season. Register now. Cornish Maine. For More Info 
Lead with Nature: Monhegan Fall Birding Adventure: 5-day, guided birding trip to Maine’s best hotspot, Led by Dan Gardoqui & Phil Brown, September 25-29, Monhegan Island, ME, Lead With Nature

 MASSACHUSETTS
Spur Wander:  2 Day Cybertracker Eval. Women only, in collaboration with Trotting Fox Programs. Led by Daniel Hansche & Kathy Dean in Buckland, MA June 1-2. For More Info 
Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center:Track Patterns: Identifying track patterns is crucial to identify the animal, Nick & Valerie Wisniewski, April 20, Orange, MA. Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center.  
Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center:Wild About Tracks: Details of animal track patterns, Explore track patterns of our native wild mammals, Nick & Valerie Wisniewski. April 28, North Quabbin area, MA. Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center 
Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center: Wetland Magic: Explore amazing wetland habitat, flora and fauna, Nick & Valerie Wisniewski, May 5, North Quabbin area, MA, Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center  
Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center: Birding By Ear:  Experience the unfolding of the spring season through the world of birds, Led by John Green, May 12, South Quabbin area, MA Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center
David Brown’s Wildlife Services: Spring Tracking Programs: Finding, identifying and interpreting wild animal sign in no-snow conditions led by David Brown: April 7, 21, May 5, 19, June 2, 16. Quabbin and other.For More Info 
Trotting Fox Programs: Summer Track & Sign Day: Join us for a full day of track & sign interpretation, Led by Kathy Dean, July 13 Greenfield, MA area. Trotting Fox Programs 
Vermont Wilderness School: Birding by Ear Workshop: A morning of attuning our senses to the language of birds, Led by Kathy Dean, May 11, Ashfield, MA. Vermont Wilderness School 
Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center: Wildflowers and Trees: Spring into learning more than just ID’s, Led by Nick & Valerie Wisniewski, May 19, North Quabbin area, MA, Walnut Hill Tracking and Nature Center   

NEW YORK
Tamakoce Wilderness Programs: Capital District Wildlife Tracking Club: Connect and explore outside w/ other nature and tracking enthusiasts. Led by Dan Yacobellis. Monthly 2nd Sunday-8:45AM-12:30PM, variety of locations near the Capital District of NY. Tamakoce Wilderness Programs  
Spur Wander: One-Day Track & Sign Evaluation: In collaboration with the Northeast Natural History Conference. Led by Daniel Hansche, April 19, Albany, NY. For More Info
Spur Wander: Tracking Wander: Interpretational approaches emphasizing the process. Connecting to place, animal, & land. Led by Daniel Hansche. July 17 Canaan NY.  For More Info
Spur Wander: Track & Sign Certification: A highly educational workshop & certification, Led by Daniel Hansche, June 22-23, Ithaca, NY Spur Wander

 VERMONT 
Fox Paw School: Tracking Club.  
Free monthly tracking club, beginners and experienced trackers welcome. Come learn tracking, bird language, awareness, and more. Led by Jonathan Shapiro. 1st Saturday of the month, Marshfield, VT. For More Info 
Vermont Wilderness School: Wildlife Tracking Apprenticeship. A multi-month tracking apprenticeship, 6 wknds across three seasons!  Led by Bob Etzweiler & Jasmyn Atsalis-Gogel. 6 March-Dec. Southern VT and surrounding area. Vermont Wilderness School 
Vermont Wilderness School: Tracker Certification: A highly educational workshop & tracker certification, Led by Daniel Hansche, July 20-21, Brattleboro area, Vermont Wilderness School
Fox Paw School: CyberTracking Evaluation and Certification, Led by Nate Harvey, July 13 & 14, Hardwick, VT  Fox Paw School 
North Branch Nature Center: Summer Tracks and Sign: A weekend of wildlife tracking. Led by Sophie Mazowita  June 1- 2 Montpelier, VT For More Info  
Trackers Trail: Introductory Trailing Workshop: An introduction to following deer trails in leaves. Led by Nate Harvey, May 11-12. Marlboro, VT For More Info  
Vermont Wilderness School: Birding by Ear Workshop: A morning of attuning our senses to the language of birds, Led by Kathy Dean, June 8, Putney, VT,  Vermont Wilderness School 

QUEBEC
Les Primitifs & Tracker Certification North America: Trailing Evaluation: Led by Nate Harvey, May 1-2, St Andre Avellin, Quebec, Contact Genevieve Lavoie at lesprimitifs.gen@gmail.com
Les Primitifs & Tracker Certification North America: Track & Sign Evalutation: Led by Nate Harvey, April 27-28, St. Andre Avellin, Quebec. For More Info 
Les Primitifs: Trailing Workshop: Learn to follow deer trails in leaves. Led by Nate Harvey, April 29-30, St. Andre Avellin, Quebec. For More Info

ONLINE EVENTS 
Tracker Tuesdays: Join Tracker Certification North America for free monthly online discussions, presentations, and tracking tips from CyberTracker evaluator team and their guests. Visit Tracker Tuesdays to sign up for notifications. 
SPUR WANDER: Personalized Tracker Training, Coaching, & Development. Custom Mentoring for Individuals or Groups: honing your tracking ability and process. Led by Daniel Hansche. daniel@spurwander.com
Lead With Nature: Engaging, online tracking courses that will elevate your skills. Led by Daniel Gardoqui. Various dates. For More Info 
Spur Wander: Tracking and Perception-Online: Stories, practices & approaches for broadened perception in tracking, Led by Daniel Hansche, May 6th 7:00 – 8:30pm // June 3rd 7:00-8:30, Spur Wander

FIELD NOTE
WILL CLOSE
The sun is setting, bathing the scrubby hillside of muted grays and blues in a warm orange glow. The warmth envelopes me and the young paper birch, striped maple, and spruce. The breeze stirs their branches, cold but soft against my skin. A raven cries out some distance away. The crisp March air carries him briskly overhead, his silhouette lifting high above the pines and out of sight. To my left there’s a rustling of leaves. A chipmunk darts from his perch with a burst of chirps. Five hours I have been nestled in this grove of trees, drawing a single maple bud. My pulse is slow. My presence assumes that of the stump I sit on – still – witness to the ebb and flow of life passing through the landscape. With a flicker and flash, a group of chickadees land in the branches above me, here to investigate me and my drawing. A particularly curious little guy comes within feet of my head – peering right over my shoulder as if checking in on my progress. And then just as they arrive, they are gone, leaving me to savor the tender moment – at peace and in reverence of my surroundings. Will Close, Mount Watatic journal entry, North Central Massachusetts, 2021.I’ve had many animal encounters while drawing. My mind and body become very still when I draw. It’s meditative – my pen is an extension of my physiology. I feel myself in the “flow” – my consciousness enters the river of energy which ripples across the landscape. The river which holds the birds, the trees, and the sun.  After a full week of solo camping and observational drawing, I can become so connected to a place, it’s hard to collect firewood for every tree, branch, and twig holds some significance. Whether the home of a pileated or safe haven for wintering insects, my heart feels their heartbeats as a result of hours simply observing and drawing. Matching my heartbeat with that of the land is truly what it is all about, and I use art as a tool to get me there. You can too.Will Close, Mount Watatic painted study, North Central Massachusetts, 2021.To start, a bit of context which I have acquired through personal research and time studying at art school. Approaches to illustrative nature observation are not new, in fact, some of the oldest forms of artwork are rooted in naturalistic observation. At its core, nature illustration is the human means of grasping the sublime intricacies of our universe. From the dimly lit cave paintings of Lascaux to the brightly illustrated field guides of Roger Tory Peterson, all are linked by this innately human, exquisitely subtle means of distilling the complexity of our world into a simple two dimensional orchestration of lines and forms, which to the eye reads as the whole. Lascaux Cave, Montignac, France, about 15,000 BCEThere most certainly is a thread which ties humans’ rise of consciousness with the observation of nature and an urge to illustrate it. From the western canon of Europe we can track a story woven over hundreds of years. From German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Rhinoceros’ to the majestic American landscape paintings of the mid-19th century Hudson River School, we can get a snapshot of this story.Frederic Edwin Church, of the Hudson River School, Magdalena River, New Granada, Ecuador, 1853Much of such artwork and illustrations were produced in times of great discovery both in terms of the field of art and science, but also in the discovery of new lands and species. It is important to revisit the works of past naturalists and landscape painters as they were indeed masters of their craft. But when it comes to the particular intentions and perceptions of these early European masters of nature study, we find a complicated relationship with nature. Take for example Albrecht Dürer’s rhino illustration. While Dürer was transforming the artistic and cultural landscape of the time with his interest in animals as subject matter, which up until that point was considered not worthy of fine art, his rhino was never drawn from real life. He in fact rendered the Indian Rhino from notes and a sketch received by an unknown artist. Despite several inaccuracies, the illustration was widely spread throughout Europe up until the 18th century. The twisting and turning of fact and fiction continued throughout the western canon of art. On one hand, we have extreme care and dedication to crafting an image and on the other, there was a dash of exoticism and at times, outright make-believe Albrecht Dürer, preparatory study for his rhinoceros print, Germany, 1515The 19th century Hudson River School, produced some of the greatest American landscape painters and paintings the world had yet to see, and furthered the acceptance of landscape as a subject worthy of fine art.
I still remember the first time I saw Hudson River School’s Albert Bierstadt’s Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. I was only eight years old at the time, but I was struck by the overwhelming magnitude of detail and wonder imbued all within the confines of a two-dimensional surface. It was not till later in life that I learned the image was in fact not a true representation of any one place, but a collage of multiple sketches and notes taken throughout Bierstadt’s expedition West. He chose the best tree, the best mountain, crystal clear water, a heavenly sky and added plenty of wild game. It was then no surprise to learn such an image was used as a sort of “advertisement” for European immigrants beckoning them to the Western United States. Many of these landscape paintings were wrapped up in Manifest Destiny and likely led to much of that land being permanently altered at the hands of European settlers. Albert Bierstadt, Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains, American West,1868.What new perspectives can we take? Traditionally, Western perspective is defined by a fixed vanishing point. Think: standing still, looking down 5th Avenue in New York City, the buildings progressively reducing in size until your eye hits the horizon fading into the atmospheric haze- aka the vanishing point. Now take a traditional Eastern perspective – the scroll. Eastern perspective can be viewed as the unrolling of a scroll, where the viewer actually controls the viewpoint- unfurling more or less of the image or story. In this way a multitude of otherwise conflicting images and perspectives are created. Time arrives as an element of this artmaking with the viewer being able to move backwards and forwards. We now have two ways of recording and thus seeing our world – as noun (fixed) and as verb (in transition).  Changzhou Scroll, Qing Dynasty, China, 1691 AD.When it comes to the illustration of Nature, seeing through the lens of transition vs fixed is a radical shift. We no longer are beholden to what we see directly in front of us. We can tell many stories with just one image. Ironically, Bierstadt shared multiple perspectives in his collaged composition but his intention and philosophy were beholden to a fixed Western perspective – negating the power of any sort of Eastern perspective. What does this mean for us, now, today? Well, there is more than one way of seeing and there is more than one way of recording what we see. We can take what is in front of us at face value and illustrate that which we observe to the best of our abilities, but we can also break out of this tendency. We can use words, numbers, diagrams, we can use fine art ideas. We can “abstract” what we see. What can we see, feel, smell, and even taste? How much can we collect? Often memories are tied to smell or sound. Can we somehow articulate these experiences into our illustrations? I use these as suggested questions to stimulate my observation. Not everything can be recorded in pen and ink, but we most certainly can take in as much about our surroundings as possible through our nervous system.Will Close, Ecuadorian Amazon journal entry, 0°41’15.0″S 76°25’44.1″W, Ecuador, 2022.So how to start? Just do it and when you get overwhelmed and perfectionism engulfs your brain to the point of paralysis, start again. How to start again? Exercise. Do small chunks over an extended period of time. Drawing is as daunting a task as lifting weights or keeping a running routine. Drawing, like exercise, is physical, it involves muscles, building new neural networks and your brain getting flooded with dopamine. Seeing in this way we can treat field observation much as you would any new habit. Start small- little sketches at a time without placing any undue importance on creating the perfect image. Set the timer. Set yourself up for quick drawing sessions no longer than 30 minutes (who knows you may go longer). Find a willing partner in arts to continually push one another. Draw really “badly” – there is no such thing – if you are drawing, that is a win, but draw messy. Loosen up- and don’t let the perfect picture stop you! Nature illustration and nature study is meant to be a cumulative process. The more you draw the more you will train your muscles both in hand, eyes, and brain.Will Close, Ecuadorian Amazon journal entry, Rio Tiputini, Ecuador, 2022.I can assure you, when I surrendered myself to the process and drew really messy, really fast sketches for a week straight, my draftsmanship improved exponentially. When we move slowly fixating on every detail we often lose the whole image (the essence). We can get stuck in the details and end up with a disproportionate image lacking accuracy. While there is a time and place and value for moving slowly and capturing every detail, do not let your brain trick you into thinking this is the most efficient method. Pushing ourselves into a place of non-judgmental exploration vs perfectionism and absolutism will undoubtedly lead to a better trained hand and mind. We want to arrive at a place of growth mindset. A space where lines and scribbles cutting through your drawing are the marks of feverish investigation not punctuations of a frustrated artist. In time, with the right practice, one can accumulate a rich understanding of any place they wish to study as well as a finely tuned hand for capturing every subtly. Happy trails and may a few of those trails be drawn in pen and ink.Will Close, Ecuadorian Amazon journal entries composite, Amazon Basin, Ecuador, 2022. Will Close is an artist, designer, and educator who specializes in the intersection of nature, art, design, and teaching. He recently graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a degree in Fine Art Painting. Currently, Close resides in Concord, MA where he maintains an artistic studio practice and is an outdoor education instructor with the Carroll School located in Lincoln, MA. His passion for nature illustration and sharing it with others, has taken him from the spruce forests of Maine to the Ecuadorian Amazon. Most recently, he was the inaugural artist in residence with North Country Land Trust in North Central Massachusetts. You can view his artwork and reach out withany questions by visiting his website willclosestudios.com.   

Connecting to the land one track at a time. 
Happy Tracking! from the Northeast Wildlife Trackers Planning Team
(Pam, Kelly, Amy, Bryan, Rebecca, Andrea, David, Pat) 

Northeast Wildlife Trackers gratefully operates under their fiscal sponsor, Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT)northeastwildlifetrackers.org
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