The Eco-Forum being run by Joshua’s Trust will take place on four Thursday evenings in 2015 and 2016 at the Buchanan Auditorium of the Mansfield Public Library on Route 89 in Mansfield. Doors will open at 6:45 p.m. with the presentation starting at 7 p.m.

These presentations are open to both members and non-members. Costs for Joshua’s Trust members are $5 per presentation and $15 for all four. Costs for non-members are $8 per presentation and $25 for all four. All attendees must be pre-registered. Registration forms are available here.  This promises to be an interesting and informative experience, so please, register early!!

The first presenter will be Tom Harrington whose program will be “Population Changes in Birds,” Nov. 12.

Tom Harrington

Harrington is a retired high school science teacher with training in ornithology, morphology and ecology. He is particularly interested in ornithology, entomology — especially butterflies, dragonflies and beetles — marine biology and photography. Harrington earned his B. A. degree in English from Eastern Connecticut State University (1975); B. S. (1980) and M. S. (1987) degrees in zoology and biology, respectively, from California State University, Long Beach; and a Sixth Year degree from Central Connecticut State University in educational leadership (2004).

As a member of the Teachers’ Advisory Board for the SUN (Students Understanding eNergy) Project through the Milwaukee School of Engineering from 2007-2011, he contributed toward the development of learning modules for photosynthesis and cellular respiration that communicate these complex processes in an accessible manner suitable for teachers and students. Harrington is motivated, as an educator, by the opportunity to see his students’ eyes “light up” when they finally understand a concept.

Harrington enjoys a variety of activities, including consulting in the area of natural history; leading walks through natural sites, such as the Joshua’s Trust properties — and particularly Pigeon Swamp — which he often visited as a child; and traveling to destinations such as Acadia National Park, Cape Cod National Seashore, Yosemite National Park, and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. He is a dedicated amateur photographer, writer and artist. Last year, seeking to reinvigorate his skills as a poet, Tom took a class that enabled him to refine some of his early poems dating from the ‘60s and ‘70s, and to reintegrate poetry composition regularly into his daily routines. He also has taken workshops in memoir and essay writing.

The second presenter will be Elizabeth Farnsworth on “The State of Plants” on Dec. 10.

Elizabeth Farnsworth

Farnsworth is the senior research ecologist with the New England Wild Flower Society in Framingham, MA and a research associate of the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. In addition, she is a member of the graduate faculties of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the University of Rhode Island and senior editor of Rhodora, the peer-reviewed journal of the New England Botanical Club. Farnsworth received her bachelors degree in environmental studies from Brown University (1984), a master of science in the Botany Department’s field naturalist program from the University of Vermont (1991), and a doctorate in biology from Harvard University (1997). Her graduate studies comprised the evolutionary physiology of seed dormancy and plant ecophysiological responses to climate change.

In 2015, she released the important “State of the Plants,” a peer-reviewed regional analysis of plants and their conservation in New England. Farnsworth also co-directed a $2.5 million National Science Foundation project to develop “Go Botany: Integrated Tools to Advance Botanical Learning,” an award-winning web application containing interactive identification keys to over 3,500 native and naturalized plants of New England, a citizen-science collaborative site, and curricular materials for use by professional botanists, educators, and students. She is currently principal investigator on a project, funded by the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, to develop some of the first online courses in field botany in the U.S.

As a Harvard Traveling Scholar, Elizabeth has conducted surveys and studies, focusing particularly on mangroves, in 18 countries. She is a highly-regarded scientific illustrator who prepared technical drawings for the 2011 publication, Flora Novae Angliae and was sole illustrator for four other books. She has published more than 50 peer-reviewed scholarly journal papers and is a co-author of four books.

Claire Rutledge will present on Jan. 14, 2016 ,on “The Emerald Ash Borer.”

Claire Rutledge

Rutledge is a scientist and assistant entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) in New Haven. Rutledge, who specializes in wood-boring insects, is an expert on mating behavior and chemical ecology, tri-trophic interactions, and predator and parasitoid behavior. She received a bachelors degree in biology from Oberlin College (1989), and master’s (1984) and Ph.D. (1998) degrees in entomology from the University of Illinois.

Rutledge is a respected expert on the emerald ash borer (EAB), a highly invasive pest that is devastating ash forests across the East and which she and a CAES survey team first detected in Connecticut in July 2010. She has studied the mating behavior and ecology of the insect and a closely-related pest, the bronze birch borer, and is committed to identifying ash borer control agents. In addition, she and her team are studying the use of a native solitary digger wasp, Cercerisfumipennis as a detection tool for emerald ash borer and other invasive buprestid beetles.

Her previous research has focused on understanding the interactions among plants, their herbivores and the natural enemies that attack the herbivores in a range of systems. Her studies have included the role of host plants in defining the range of caterpillars attacked by an imported parasitoid wasp; how plant surfaces affect the ability of ladybeetles to hunt pea aphids; and a range of other, similar plant/herbivore impacts. She has published over 25 scholarly studies on wood-boring insects.

On April 14, 2016, our final presenter, Mitch Wagener, will present on “Climate Change and its Effects.”

Mitch Wagener

Mitch Wagener

He teaches climate ecology, entomology, and related courses at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury. His research interests include the impact of historical events, such as the Industrial Revolution, on the environment.

His varied research interests include the ecology of soil and aquatic invertebrates, the ecology of our changing climate, and the impact of historical events on the environment. His current research focuses on the ecologies of three Connecticut lakes—Candlewood, Lillinonah and Zoar—with particular interest in invasive zebra mussels infesting two of these lakes.

Wagener began life in the Midwest, where he grew up a barefoot boy in the Ozarks and attended high school in Branson, MO. After graduating in 1981 from the University of Missouri with a degree in fisheries and wildlife, he moved to Fairbanks, AK, to attend graduate school. Mitch received a master’s degree in stream ecology (1984) and a doctorate in soil ecology (1995) during his 13 years in Alaska.

While living in Alaska, Mitch met his wife of 31 years, Rita Kabali, a native of Uganda, East Africa. The couple have two lively daughters: Rohanna, a recent graduate of George Washington University, and Danika, who will attend Ithaca College in the fall.