VWHE 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference–Register Now!

The 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference from Vermont Women in Higher Education, with the theme “Power Up! Harness Your Power, Direct Your Energy, Electrify the World,” is March 31 and April 1 at Killington Grand Resort. There will be a variety of professional workshops and more, all in a beautiful setting.  This year’s keynote speaker is Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power.  

The featured talks on Day One of the conference promise to help participants develop new skills and return to their jobs energized. They are titled Recharging Your Battery: Plugging into Your Positive Core to Power Up at Work and Beyond,” and “Being That Person in Your Department: Addressing Social Justice Issues with Fellow Professionals in Student Affairs and Beyond.”

Overnight accomoddations are also available at a special group rate.

Click here to register now!

Questions? Please contact Shannon Bohler, VWHE Institutional Representative at x2961 or at bohler@middlebury.edu.

Feel free to check out the conference webpage!

The State of the Republican Race: A View From the Ground In New Hampshire

Because I’ll be making a last round of New Hampshire campaign events tomorrow (I’m hoping to hit Cruz and Jeb! and will be live tweeting both events), I thought I’d post my assessment of the state of the Republican race in New Hampshire tonight. (The Democratic race, to me, has not been nearly as unpredictable.) […]

The Trees are Alright

Abnormal weather always has people worrying about their trees and shrubs in the yard, and this winter is anything but normal. It’s the warm temperatures that are troubling, and many people have come up to me asking if the trees are going to be OK, or if the warm temperatures mean they are going to start growing.

Surprisingly, it’s the opposite, but this winter is a long ways from being worrying.

All temperate climate plants go through a period called dormancy, a mandated winter rest. This is triggered in the fall by not only temperatures, but by day-length. As the days get shorter the plants go through chemical and physiological changes to prepare for below normal temperatures. Once dormant, the plant needs sustained cold (500-2000 hours below about 40 degrees) to break dormancy and get ready to grow again in the spring. So, if this winter were to have stayed above about 50 all winter long the plants wouldn’t have started to grow, but the opposite, would just sitting there doing nothing.

And this makes sense. I’m always amazed at how smart and resilient plants are. While this winter is fairly unusual in the sustained warmth, we do see warm spells most winters, and plants that would start to grow at the first blush of spring wouldn’t be around very long. Breaking dormancy requires not only warm temperatures, but increasing day-lengths, longer spells of sunshine to break their winter gloom.

What can hurt a plant is freezing temperatures once dormancy is overcome. In trees, this is seen as frost cracking, long vertical fissures in the bark caused by water freezing in the xylem after warming up and moving around in the daytime. (Look at the trunk of the Sycamore in the triangle in Wilson Terrace outside McCullough)

This adaption to day-length also explains why plants with a local background (called provenance) is best. Day-length varies by latitude, with greater variation seen in northern latitudes. Take a tree from Vermont, move it down to Georgia (poor thing), and it will stop growing mid summer, as the days are a northern fall-like short. What I see quite a bit more, though, is the opposite. Plants grown in a nursery down south and moved up north don’t know when to shut down and start dormancy, and are often growing late into the fall, with their leaves and twigs freezing, unprepared for winter.

And while I’ve got your attention, let me take care of one final question I’ve been getting. No, your lilacs aren’t ‘budding’. Many people are looking at their giant buds on the ends of the lilac twigs, and think they are swelling about ready to pop and start growing. They were actually that large this fall, you just were too busy looking at fall foliage. Fear not.

The Week’s Headlines

Here are the week’s headlines from the News Room:

Learning To Think Like a Lawyer

Professor Pundits: The Iowa Takeaway

Celebration for Mid-year Graduates Set for Saturday, February 6

Shakespeare First Folio Exhibition Opens Feb. 2

Longtime Baseball Coach Bob Smith to Retire at Conclusion of 2016 Season

View past stories by visiting the News Room page.