From Jen Loyd-Pain— What to look for now at the Greenberg Reserve

These chilly winter months may seem quiet at the “Reserve” as most vegetation lies dormant and some species take to their dens; the woodchuck, chipmunk, and black bear to name a few. Some birds and insects, such as the Red-winged Blackbird and Monarch Butterfly, that bring sound and color to meadow, wetland, and forest, migrate to warmer destinations.

However, many animals remain active all year, and chickadees and cardinals may be seen and heard as they go about their daily business. Near the brook and up on the forest trails are particularly good places to look for wildlife tracks and sign. This is especially true when there has been a dusting of snow the previous day. Recently I observed numerous mammal tracks such coyote, deer, squirrel, rabbit, and a few just like the one below. Can you guess what it might be?

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Jenica McEvoy’s Notes from the Classroom

What do landslides, deer populations, and water erosion have in common? They are some of the science lesson topics brought to life by the OWCC this past fall! Thanks to funding from the James H. and Irene M. Hunter Charitable Trusts, students from 16 classrooms in 5 local schools supplemented their science curriculum with activities designed and taught by an OWCC instructor. In addition, a classroom lesson and follow-up field trip to the Greenberg Reserve was piloted for a 5th grade class. Students had a lot of fun in this field trip exploring the reserve’s wetland, forest, and meadow habitats, looking for evidence of different animals and figuring out their roles in the food chain.

The OWCC classroom lessons focused on experiential learning. For example, students became engineers in one set of lessons. Rather than just look at photos of landslides and erosion, they designed, tested, redesigned, and retested to decrease the amount of erosion on an experimental slope. As one teacher remarked, “I am always happy to see the enthusiasm of the class when they know that we will be having the natural science lesson. They love the hands-on approach and responded to it well.”

Thank you to all the teachers and students who participated!

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From Working Farm to Nature Preserve: The Norman & Selma Greenberg Conservation Reserve

We acquired the land in 2004 from the late Norman Greenberg with the help of a generous bargain sale and the Vermont Housing and Development Corp. When Mr. Greenberg purchased the property in 1956, it was the Rose Farm, one of the many small dairy farms in the Bennington area. The house and barn stood in what is now the meadow and Jewett Brook was channeled to provide pasture.  Today, nearly 70 years later, the buildings are gone and the pasture, now a 14 acre wetland, is home to ducks, beavers, mink and other wildlife.

Does anything remain of the farm?  A resounding yes!  The land was first cleared in 1763 by one Barnabus Barnum.  The results of his and his successors’ back-breaking work remain in the meadow and on the hillside.  The hillside is crisscrossed by stone fences that once divided the land into pasture and crop areas.  A section used for crops is marked by a large pile of stones collected from the field to make way for a plow.

A house hole along the Old Farm Road marks the Rose farmhouse. It is now overgrown with sumac.  Across the road, a “stone’s throw” from the house, remnants of the farm’s trash heap are heaved up by frost each spring.  Across the brook, overlooking the trolley line, the concrete walls of a “hired hand’s house” still stand.

The water supply to hired hand’s house was still running when we acquired the property, piped to the house from one of three wells located on the hillside above.  The Birch Overlook Trail crosses a ditch, dug to channel water from a wet spot above toward the wells.  The water continued to flow, even in winter, until work on the Southern Leg of the Bypass broke the pipe.

We removed the improvised culvert that carried the Old Farm Road across Jewett Brook.    It was a former boiler, salvaged from an unknown source.  It kept the road dry most of the year and it also impeded the passage of Jewett Brook’s brown trout.  We needed a safe, dry brook crossing throughout the year and the trout, passage upstream.  Our new timber bridge provides excellent vistas over the wetland and is rated to carry equipment for trail work and emergency vehicles if needed.

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Late Fall Explorations

Rattlesnakes in Vermont

Thursday, November 7 7 – 8:30 pm

Find out about Vermont’s rare and misunderstood native rattlesnake, its life history, behavior, and habitats in our state’s challenging harsh climate.

Please join us to learn more about this shy, reclusive reptile!

As a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for 30 years, Doug has worked extensively on big game and non-game management programs as well as public and private land management programs. He was Vermont’s Wild Turkey Project Team Leader from 1990-2010 and has also assisted on the black bear, deer, moose, furbearer and peregrine falcon research projects since 1984. Doug has travelled to Wyoming and Arizona to participate in on-going mountain lion research programs in those states and has served as the Department’s investigator on the dozens of Vermont mountain lion sightings received annually from the public. Most recently, Doug’s professional interest has focused on reptiles and specifically, rare snake research in Vermont.

Adults and older teens

Donations welcome

Who lives here?

Saturday, November 9 11 am -12:30 pm

Find out more about some of the animals that call our part of Vermont home, with a focus on the mammals that call our reserve home. There will be lots of interesting things to touch and we’ll share stories too.

All ages

$3 per person/$5 per family ($2 off for Friends of OWCC)


Become a Junior OWCC Citizen Scientist

Saturday, November 16 11 am – 12:30 pm

Do you like being outdoors? Are you interested in helping wild plants and animals in your community? If so, then we need you! Have fun learning while being a part of scientific observation projects to help the reserve. See if you have what it takes and earn an official patch too.

Ages 6+

$3 per person/$5 per family ($2 off for Friends of OWCC)

Nature Corner: Getting Ready for Winter

Friday, November 22 11 am – noon

An opportunity for our youngest nature adventurers and their parents to explore the natural world together. We’ll take a walk outside to see how animals prepare for winter, and then come back to the children’s corner to put on an animal puppet show! Please dress for the outdoors.

Ages 3-5

$5 per family ($2 off for Friends of OWCC)

Make yourself at home

Saturday, November 23 11 am – 1 pm

Connect with the outdoors and get to know your community conservation center! Take a hike on our beautiful trails and stop in for a chat to learn about all the interesting things we have to offer. There will be crafts for kids too.

All ages

Donations welcome

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Autumn Explorations

Sept 14 Fall Bird Walk 9:30 – 11:00 am

Join local bird expert Mary Batcheller on a relaxing bird walk to find fall migrants. In case of rain, Mary will lead an indoor birding workshop.

$5 ($3, Friends of OWCC); $8, families

Sept. 28 Early Childhood Explorations 10:30 – 11:30

Through a variety of hands-on activities, families with children ages 3-5 will explore the habitat along the trails at the Greenberg Reserve. Emphasis on using the senses to discover the many changes occurring as summer ends and fall begins.

$6 per family ($4 Friends of OWCC).

Oct. 5 Nature through the Seasons 11:00am – 12:30 pm

Tell time by observing the natural world. Learn about journaling and create a nature journal out of natural and recyclable materials to record your findings. Adults, families w/children 8+

$5 ($3, Friends of the OWCC) $5, ($3 Friend of the OWCC), $8 families

Oct. 12 Make yourself at home 11 am – 1 pm

Connect with the outdoors and get to know your community conservation center. Take a hike on our trails and stop for a chat to learn about the interesting things we have to offer. There will be crafts for the kids.

Donations welcome.

Oct. 18 Nature Corner: Leaves 11 am – noon

An opportunity for our youngest nature adventurers and their parents to explore the natural world together. Discover more about trees and the color and texture of fall. Dress for the outdoors.

$5 per family. Free to Friends of the OWCC.

Oct. 19 Hike by the light of the moon 7 – 8:30 pm

See our fields and forest from a difference perspective and glimpse what happens at night. We’ll take a hike, then warm up at the Center with some hot Vermont apple cider. Cancelled if rain. Adults, teens and families with children age 8+ $5, $8 families, Free to Friends of the OWCC.

Oct. 26 Ghostly Gourds 11 am – 12:30 pm

Bats, spiders, crows and more. Bring the family and discover more about these misunderstood, not so spooky, animals. Decorate your own bat pumpkin, too. Families with children of all ages.

$6 per family.


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Film: Carbon Nation (Peter Byck)

September 24, 2013
6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

In cooperation with the Bennington Garden Club.

carbon nation is a documentary movie about climate change SOLUTIONS. Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change or just don’t buy it at all, this is still a compelling and relevant film that illustrates how SOLUTIONS to climate change also address other social, economic and national security issues. You’ll meet a host of entertaining and endearing characters along the way.

  •   carbon nation is an optimistic, solutions-based, non-preachy, non-partisan, big tent film that shows tackling climate change boosts the economy, increases national & energy security and promotes health & a clean environment.
  • Public opinion is sliding the wrong way – far fewer people are concerned about climate change than even a year ago. We’ve made carbon nation to give a majority of people an entertaining, informed and pragmatic primer about why it’s incredibly smart to be a part of the new, low-carbon economy: it’s good business.
  • carbon nation’s optimism and pragmatism are appealing across the political spectrum. While other good films have been about problems, blame and guilt, carbon nation is a film that celebrates solutions, inspiration and action.

Peter Byck has over 20 years experience as a director and editor. His first documentary “Garbage” won the South by Southwest Film Festival. (It screened in scores of festivals in the U.S. and Europe and played at the Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center).

Peter has presented Carbon Nation for Boeing, Nike, Google, Microsoft,, SC Johnson, Stonyfield, Carbon War Room, Shell, White House CEQ, CarbonTrade Ex, NetImpact, Social Venture Network. AREDAY, Metcalf Institute @ U of R.I., PEW-BICEP, Prince Charles’ B.E.P. program @ Cambridge University, R.I.S.D., Art Center (Pasadena),Yale University, Conservation International, Louisville Fund for the Arts & many other universities, companies and high schools across the country and internationally.

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Greenberg Conservation Reserve Weathers the Storms!

The Greenberg Conservation Reserve has Jewett Brook crossing it’s wetlands.  Like all the rivers and streams in most of Vermont, the wetlands substantially flooded during Tropical Storm Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee less than a week later.  There was flooding of the wetlands over its banks, and waters ran across the trail road!  The bridge in our Reserve held well with no problems, the waters have receded, and the trails are clear and open for learning and recreation!  Below are some pictures of the aftermath when the waters were still high.


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NETC To Open Education Center

New England Tropical Conservatory has purchased the Bennington Club property from the Bennington Club.   Located on the west side of Route 7 South, the structure is situated directly across the road from NETC’s Norman & Selma Greenberg Conservation Reserve. NETC will proceed immediately to convert the facility to an Education Center.  The NETC office will be moved from the “BCIC Building” in North Bennington to the new site.

The Conservatory currently conducts on-going botanical research in Indonesia.  Its Greenberg Reserve is open to the public for recreation and is the site of school field trips. The new facility will allow NETC to bring new educational resources to the schools and to the general public.  Initial offerings will include lectures on current environmental issues,   arts and culture of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and tools and information to help citizens practice conservation and sustainability in their own communities and back yards.  School children will be invited to the Education Center as well as to the Greenberg Reserve for life science activities.

Mary Fuqua, NETC President,  comments “We could not pass up this opportunity. The building is directly across the road from the future site of our Conservatory. The Education Center will make educational programs and resources available to the community immediately.  Our expertise and resources on environmental issues could not be more timely. And when the time comes to open the doors to the Conservatory, an active education program will already be in place.”  She adds that these activities will not only enrich Bennington culturally and educationally, but will attract new visitors to the area.

The building was constructed about 1960 and was utilized as a Howard Johnson’s Restaurant for several years.  The Bennington Club purchased it in 1982 for use as a private club.  It has been well maintained.  NETC plans no major structural changes.

Bennington Club President Millie Pierce stated that the club is indeed fortunate in finding a buyer who will keep the building and grounds to the high standards the club members have set. The club will continue as a corporate entity and will in all probability rent space from other clubs to carry out its functions.  We do not plan on going away. Our sincere congratulations to NETC on acquiring their new home, and we wish them much success.

The purchase has been funded by generous gifts from the Board of Directors and mortgage loans from the Bank of Bennington and the Vermont Small Business Development Corporation.

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Story Boards at the Reserve!

New England Tropical Conservatory has installed Story Boards along the trails at its Norman & Selma Greenberg Reserve. Written for children and mounted at their line of sight, the stories open the eyes and ears of children and adults alike to the landscape and to the plants and animals that live there.

These Boards replace temporary interpretive signs created by Dr. Robert Tarnas, a local physician and naturalist, who wrote and erected temporary interpretive signs when the Reserve opened and has renewed them annually. The new Boards retain the original text, which as been popular with children and adults alike.

The Reserve is located on the east side of Route 7 S, just over a mile from Main Street. To find the signs, follow the Old Farm Road from the parking lot through the meadow. The first Story Board, situated shortly after the road enters the wetland, will ask you to stop and listen-you will hear interesting sounds at every season and time of day! Another board invites you to look about you and think about how the valley you see was formed. Others recount the history of the trolley line, point out the wildlife in the wetland and the creatures at home in the rotting debris of the woods, and draw your attention to the patch of ancient plants known as Horsetails. At an overlook across the swamp to Mt. Anthony, another Board explains the geology of our region–why Mt. Anthony sits just where it does and where it came from.

The project has been funded by a grant from the Taconic Tri-State Audubon Society.

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