Environmental Science

COST: $4,600
DATES: June 28-July 18, 2020

The Hotchkiss Summer Environmental Science program is a cumulative, field-based, two-tier program that introduces key concepts in environmental science and encourages students to become stewards of natural resources on a local, national, and global level. Hotchkiss’s 800-plus acres of woods, pastures, streams, and lakes offer incredible opportunities for hands-on research.

Students are welcome to apply to either level of study, or to repeat a course from previous years.

Levels of Study

Fundamentals of Environmental Science

Students learn the fundamental concepts and practices of environmental science. By developing crucial analytical skills in the field and in the lab, students grow and eventually put their coursework into practice. Students also learn how to use journals effectively as a way to document their observations through collecting, writing, and sketching. Students will spend time working and analyzing the various ecosystems of northwestern Connecticut.

Environmental Science Advanced Practicum

Students who have completed any of the Environmental Science Portals or who have had a previous field experience in environmental science or ecology are invited to join us for the Environmental Science Advanced Practicum. Under the guidance of Portals scientists, advanced students will put their experience, creativity, and curiosity to work as they explore our fields, forests, streams, and wetlands with the eye of a field biologist, uncovering engaging questions and developing a research plan. Through total immersion in an ecological problem and under the mentorship of ecologists Heather York and Chris Tripler, advanced students will contribute to existing projects and do their own research in the field and in the laboratory. Students will design experiments, collect and analyze data, and present their findings to our community. Guided by experts in field ecology research, practicum students will learn to think like and do the work of young scientists.


Michelle Ruby, Enviromental Science Program Director






Ms. Ruby currently serves as a faculty member at Lawrence Academy. There she teaches AP Environmental Science and heads up the school’s sustainability committee. She attended Williams College, graduating in 2002, and worked at Boston University’s Sargent Center for Outdoor Education in Peterborough, New Hampshire. At Sargent Center, she taught environmental lessons and facilitated high-ropes courses. A lover of the outdoors, Ms. Ruby has gone on several backpacking trips in the Southwest and completed a 100-mile bike ride along the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.





Judith Crouch


I teach Nature Journaling and Drawing in Year 1. As a maker of objects, I have kept research journals most of my life. Recently, my journals have formed a substantive part of my work. Other work includes ceramic sculpture, drawing and painting. I have an MA Ceramics from the University of Wales in Cardiff and have studied Fine Art and Education at the Universities of kwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town in South Africa and St. Martins College, Lancaster in England. I was born in South Africa and have lived and worked there and in Botswana, England, Wales and the United States. I have worked at the Maru a Pula School in Gaborone, Botswana; Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts; Atlantic College in Wales; and the Hotchkiss School, where I lived from 2007-2013. I have taught on the Summer Portals program for the last four years.

Place is fundamental to my work; local, community and ecological politics absorb me and I am acutely aware of my immediate natural environment, weather conditions and issues of conservation and sustainability. As a young student in Cape Town, I lived and worked on a communal organic farm and, later, my family and I spent many of our holidays in Botswana camping in the wilds of the Kgalagadi desert and the Okavango Delta, where you have to take with you all your water, food and fuel. Nowadays, I keep bees and protect them from bears. I run and hike and, last summer, I walked Offa’s Dyke—a 200 mile trail that follows the border between England and Wales. I plan to walk parts of the Appalachian Trail this spring. Much of my time is consumed by my work as a director on the board of Women’s Support Services, the local organization that addresses domestic violence. The practice of keeping a journal is a discipline that allows me to thread a daily narrative of enquiry and reflection through the various adventures of my life.

Heather Krieger

Heather Krieger joined the Portals program in 2013 and has taught Aquatic Ecology for the Fundamentals of Environmental Science program since 2016. A native of New York, Ms. Krieger attended Hotchkiss herself and has a special place in her heart for the campus community.

Passionate about closing the achievement gap and rooted in the desire to ensure all students have access to a quality science education, she began her teaching career as a Teach for America corps member. Ms. Krieger taught middle school science in Massachusetts for three years, and is particularly interested in infusing her interests in environmental justice and field-based education into urban school environments. She will soon be transitioning out of the classroom to help coach and mentor new teachers.

Ms. Krieger has her Masters in Education, Curriculum and Teaching from Boston University and her B.A. in Environmental Studies and Biology from Hamilton College. A lover of all things outdoors, Ms. Krieger is happiest when she is outside and enjoys yoga, hiking, and discovering new restaurants.

Mario Williams '12

Heather York

Dr. Heather York is an animal ecologist whose research specialty lies with tropical bats.  A native of Wisconsin, she developed a love of nature, especially of mammals, birds, and insects, that led her to the University of Minnesota.  There, she conducted field seasons at the north woods Lake Itasca Biological Station, completed thesis research on monarch butterflies and honeybees, and graduated with degrees in Biology and Spanish linguistics.  Having fallen in love with tropical biology during an undergraduate summer abroad, she then pursued her Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas, where she was awarded two competitive fellowships and was recognized with an award for excellence in teaching.  Her research into the feeding habits of fruit bats made use of the collections of natural history museums and took her to the forests of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.  After having taught zoology, ecology, and evolution for 10 years at two liberal arts colleges, Dr. York now teaches biology and environmental science at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut.  Hands-on experiences for students, including extensive field and lab work and a focus on research design, make up significant portions of all her courses.  Outside of her teaching, Dr. York remains active in research and scientific publication, and she is a serious nature photographer.  She looks forward to her fourth year with the Hotchkiss Summer Portals program in Environmental Science.