TA News

Northern Woodlands Hosts “Field Day” at TA

Photo left to right: Anthea Lavallee, Executive Director of the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation, Elise Tillinghast, Executive Director of Northern Woodlands, and keynote speaker Jack E. Davis share a moment in the Martha Jane Rich Theater.  Credit: Tig Tillinghast

On August 20th, The Center for Northern Woodlands Education (Northern Woodlands), an environmental education nonprofit headquartered in Lyme, NH, hosted a “Field Day” on the Thetford Academy campus. The all-day event included a diverse crowd of writers, artists, wildlife biologists, foresters, and others whose work and interests relate to the long-term stewardship of northeastern forests. The day began in the Martha Jane Rich Theater with a keynote presentation by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jack E. Davis, whose remarks focused on his recently published book, “The Bald Eagle: The Improbable Journey of America’s Bird.” Following the keynote, the day’s 120 participants dispersed to attend various workshops, presentations and walks.

Examples of the day’s offerings included a natural history illustration class with renowned illustrator Clare Walker Leslie, a talk on bear social behavior by biologist and author Ben Kilham, a mushroom identification walk with mycology educator Meg Madden, and a presentation on forest carbon by the State of Vermont’s climate forester Ali Kosiba. Thetford’s own John Morton, who designed the Academy’s renowned Dan Grossman Woods Trail, offered a class on trail building. The day ended with a “Caterpillar Social Hour” under a tent, in which participants enjoyed close encounters with hundreds of native species of caterpillars, and a presentation by The Caterpillar Lab’s founder, Sam Jaffee.

“TA was the perfect site for this event,” said Northern Woodlands executive director, Elise Tillinghast. “The combination of the theater, well-equipped classrooms, refrigerator space, and woods trails were a great fit for our needs. The central location in the Upper Valley, just off Route 91, was a boon especially for the many out-of-state folks who participated.” 

She credits John Brown, TA’s Director of Buildings and Grounds, for making the day a success. “We’re so appreciative of John’s help. He eased our path every step of the way, from working through a site contract, to last-minute problem solving,” she said. Scott Ellis, TA’s Outdoor Program Coordinator also attended the event and pitched in as needed, for example, guiding participants to the correct trail or classroom. 

The sold-out event was a first for Northern Woodlands, which before the pandemic, hosted annual weekend retreats. Will there be more Field Days? “It’s too soon to say,” said Tillinghast, “but if we do this again in 2023, we’ll strongly consider TA’s campus.” For more information about the nonprofit, which publishes Northern Woodlands magazine and the popular weekly Outside Story ecology series, check out its website,



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