Field Herpetology

RGV BioU Mark

Instructors: Kiley Briggs
July 11 - 12 | $295
Course size: 12 students


mphibians are among one of the most imperiled groups of animals on earth and many reptile species are in sharp decline, even here in Vermont. Increasingly, reptiles and amphibians are receiving attention from state, federal, and non-profit conservation organizations, so knowledge of and experience with these secretive animals can be an asset in the fields of ecology, conservation, and education. Throughout this two-day course, participants will learn about the almost 30 species of frog, salamander, snake, and turtle found in Northeastern Vermont, including how to identify them, their ecology, habitat requirements, and the methodology used by biologists to sample their populations. The course will include a combination of active searches, standardized surveys, catch-and-release trapping, radio telemetry, and educational presentations such that participants become confident in their ability to identify each species occurring in Northeast Vermont, what their conservation needs and threats are, and some of the methods used by professionals to study their populations in the wild.

Note: Surveying for reptiles and amphibians does require traversing rugged terrain off trail, including on wet rocky surfaces that may be slippery, as well as wading through waist-deep water (we will provide chest waders), so feel free to reach out to the instructor for more information if you have concerns about the physical requirements and to get a better idea if this course is right for you.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • Learn how to identify and locate each of the reptiles and amphibians found in Northeastern Vermont.
  • Gain an understanding of the habitat requirements for each species and land management considerations.
  • Obtain experience using the methods used by professional herpetologists to study reptile and amphibian populations in the wild.

About the Instructor(s)

Kiley Briggs is a conservation biologist working for the Orianne Society, an organization dedicated to the conservation of critical habitat for imperiled reptiles and amphibians. A native Vermonter, Kiley first became interested in reptile and amphibian conservation at a very young age and studied wildlife biology at the University of Vermont. After several years working as a field technician studying species including Mudpuppies, Timber Rattlesnakes, Indigo Snakes, and Gopher Tortoises, Kiley moved to South Texas and obtained a Master’s degree studying how invasive grasses impact habitat use by Texas Tortoises. Kiley moved back to Vermont in 2016 and soon joined The Orianne Society as their Northeast Turtle Conservation Coordinator. In that role, he is spearheading a Wood Turtle conservation program focused largely in Vermont, and is also working with five states to advance Blanding’s Turtle conservation, working out of his home office in Woodbury, Vermont.


Coffee, tea, and light breakfast fare included with course fee. Picnic lunches (Saturday and Sunday) and a catered, buffet-style dinner (Saturday) are also included. Participants may opt out of meals and provide their own food instead. Those declining the included meals will be reimbursed for a portion of the course registration fee.

Required Materials and Recommended Reading

The Amphibians and Reptiles of New York State: Identification, Natural History, and Conservation by James Gibbs et al.


Course begins 9 AM on July 11 at North Branch Nature Center. Saturday dinner is at 6 pm. An optional evening session follows dinner. Course begins on Sunday at a time of the instructor's choosing. Course concludes by 5 pm on July 12.

Academic Credit / Professional Development

This course qualifies for 1 graduate-level science credit for an additional $150 course fee. All BioU courses are accredited by Castleton University. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that home institutions will accept the credit. Participants pursuing academic credit will be required to complete an additional assignment above and beyond the course hours, including literature review, reflective writing, or a field-based project.

This course qualifies for 20 hours of professional development hours and continuing education units. Certificates of completion are provided at the conclusion of the course.

Cancellation Policy

While we realize that unexpected circumstances arise that are out of our control, North Branch Nature Center cannot guarantee refunds for registrations cancelled within 30 days of the course.  If a cancellation occurs within this window, NBNC will attempt to fill the space from our wait list and provide a full refund.

North Branch Nature Center

713 Elm Street
Montpelier, Vermont 05602
(802) 229-6206
[email protected]

Office Open Monday-Friday from 9 am to 4 pm
Trails Open 24/7