Exploring Vermont’s Forest Soils (16-hr accredited)

Hogback Community College Course

Dates: The course meets for five sessions (2 lectures, 3 field studies): September 6, 8, 20, 22, and 29, 2018 (see detailed schedule below)

Location: Indoor sessions (Thursday evenings) will be held at the Vermont Family Forests office, 14 School St. Suite 202A, Bristol, VT. (come in the front door of the Old High School and turn left. You’ll see our logo on the door at the end of the hall. Enter and come up the stairs to our office.

Field sessions (Saturdays) will be held at the Waterworks Property: 4783 Plank Rd., Bristol, VT.  Park in the small parking area.

Cost: $160 (16-hour course) (Download course registration form)

Participants who complete this course can receive continuing education credit. Please indicate on your registration form if you are wanting to receive any of the credit options below:

Society of American Foresters Continuing Education Credits for re-licensing foresters: 12 Category 1 CFE credits
State of Vermont ANR/DEC Licensed Designer Continuing Education Credits:  8 for soils and 4 for non-soils.

“I’m thoroughly impressed with Dr. Harper’s extensive knowledge of soil science, and her ability to share seemingly endless technical information, which also included plant species, geology and topography that all related back to soils characterization.”

—participant in Forest Soils in the Hogback Ecoregion

We are delighted to welcome back soil scientist and educator Dr. Wendy Sue Harper for her sixth year teaching this introductory course on forest soils, which is accredited through the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (see note below). Students will attend 2 classroom presentations and 4 field trips targeting different soils on the Waterworks in Bristol. During classroom lectures, students will learn about soil properties as indicators of soil formation and land use potential (including the five soil forming factors, soil profiles and horizons, soil texture, structure, color, pH, and organic matter), and how to use NRCS soil information and maps.

During field studies, students will undertake simple experiments and learn basic field soil examination techniques while studying several different soil types (including glacial outwash deposits, clayplain soils, soils formed in acid or neutral tills, and wetlands and streambank soils).

This course is especially appropriate for landowners, natural resource professionals, educators, and planners who want to improve their understanding of soils and how they influence our landscape.


Sept. 6, 2018, 7-9pm
VFF office, Bristol

Lecture 1: Basic soil properties as indicators of soil formation, the natural environment, and land use, including: the five soil forming factors; soil profiles and horizons; and soil texture, structure, color, pH, and organic matter.

Sept. 8, 2018, 8:30am-12:30pm
Waterworks Property, Bristol

Field study 1: Introduction to basic field soil examination, descriptions and techniques; focusing on forest soils formed in glacial outwash deposits or neutral tills (Colton, Melrose, and Farmington)

Sept. 20, 2018, 7-9pm
VFF office, Bristol

Lecture 2: Time for additional question on materials covered. Tour Web Soil Survey to develop an understanding of making soil maps and maps of land use potential to understand sites and the natural environment. Mini-lectures on soil issues raised by students, e.g. soil biology, pH, CEC, etc.

Sept. 22, 2018, 8:30am-12:30pm
Waterworks Property

Field study 2: More soil examination, focusing on soils in the clayplain forest or acid tills (Kingsbury, Covington, and Tunbridge)

Sept. 29, 2018, 8:30am-12:30pm
Waterworks Property

Field study 3: More soil examination, focusing on wetland soils and soils that form along streams or acid forest soils formed in kamic materials (Walpole, Elmwood, and Stetson)

How to Register:

Download the registration form here. On it you’ll find detailed information about the registration process, including fees, cancellation policies, directions to course meeting sites, etc. Please complete the registration form and mail with check payment to VERMONT FAMILY FORESTS at the address indicated on the form. We will hold your payment until we reach the minimum number of students required for offering the course. If we have already reached the course’s maximum student capacity by the time you submit your registration, we will place you on a waiting list.

About the Instructor

Wendy Sue Harper, Ph.D. has over 25 years of experience in college-level education and agricultural technical assistance. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees were in soil science. She has taught soil science, ecological agriculture, and composting using skill-building approaches at Green Mountain College, the University of Vermont, and Dartmouth College. Wendy Sue teaches Agricultural Biodiversity at Green Mountain College and soils and composting to the Master Gardeners and Master Composters and has worked for UVM-Extension, Northeast-SARE, and NOFA-VT. Currently, Wendy Sue provides educational and technical services to the farming and gardening community through her business, WSH Consulting, in Monkton, VT.