Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team

Our Story

Here are some of the highlights and important people and events in Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team’s story from past to present:

  • Rick & Mary Stafford of the New England Herpetological Society (NEHS) nominated Rick for the NEHS board; he served for several years, including a term as President, and became known in the herp community, giving him some measure of credibility.
  • In 1990 Margaret Flowers, Helen Ann Lind, and Rick went into the woods to check out salamander, wood frog and peeper breeding activity. These three began work on certification and vernal pond exhibits with live animals.
  • One night the young CAVPT group met Ruth (Kuykendall) Sullivan looking for salamanders at a vernal pool in Ravenswood Park; as often happens on our field trips, we found a new friend. Ruth became the CAVPT grant writer and a presentation volunteer.
  • Several members of the group attended a vernal pond workshop, led by Scott Jackson at Laughing Brook Wildlife Sanctuary (a Mass Audubon property in Hampden), where they learned more about ponds and certification.
  • We became connected with Biologist John Bleiler who gave us one of his vernal pond surveys to use as a guideline for certification; he also helped us to collect information in the field.
  • The Pole’s Hill ladies - led by Nan Andrew, Virginia Dench, and Dina Enos were inspirational as a small group of people who organized to preserve an important piece of land; the Vernal Pond Team was inspired by their success. Hey, you really can make a difference!
  • CAVPT received its first grant ($200 from New England Herpetological Society) for film and developing to aid in certifying pools.
  • By 1995 we certified our first pools, the cluster of nine ponds on Nugent Stretch at old Rockport Road - where Begin Vernal Pool Area signs are now.
  • CAVPT staged its first vernal pond exhibit at the Earth Day event at Stage Fort Park.
  • Barbara Buls, an interpreter at Harold Parker State Forest at the time, joined the Team and volunteered in various aspects, most notably booking our programs with State parks.
  • Greg Smith started filming his Saving Cape Ann series for Cape Ann Television (CATV); he filmed CAVPT field trips and rare species habitat turtle surveys which were aired on CATV and posted on YouTube.
  • In 1995 we started work on our movie, Vernal Ponds; it was filmed entirely on Cape Ann. Alex Eisenzopf did the videography & post-production, Charlie Farren provided the music, Associate Producer was Peter Willett, Karen Saltus narrated; Rick Roth produced, directed, and creatively named it; funded by Toad Hall Bookstore, Gloucester Cultural Council, Sweetwater Trust, New England Herpetological Society, Teddy Bear Artist Invitational, and the EnTrust Fund.
  • Curtis Sarkin became our first kid volunteer. Curtis is now a full-time educator at Maritime Gloucester.
  • Around 1999 Ileen Graham saw a need and created our first website (at that time most of the Team didn’t know what a website was) She also worked on newsletters, presentations, and lots of other Team stuff.
  • H.A. Lind created the first newsletter in 1990-something. By 2000 we began mailing our annual newsletter as you now know and love it. She also designed our cool logo.
  • In 2000 Our Vernal Ponds movie was completed and won three merit awards (educational value, conservation message, excellence in Hi-8 photography) at the 23rd International Wildlife Film Festival held in Missoula, MT. The first showing, for a full house, was at the Rockport Library; sponsored by Toad Hall Bookstore.
  • We held our first yard sale fundraiser, now an annual event.
  • Nick Taormina, working on his thesis (comparing wetland habitats on Cape Ann) at Lesley College, joined Rick for a vernal pond field trip; nice guy Nick has volunteered in many capacities since, including serving as CAVPT President from 2009-2013.
  • 2002 Jessica Kagle created Ponds in the Classroom, a vernal pond program for schools; Jessica went on to form Kestrel Educational Adventures (KEA) which was incorporated as a separate non-profit in 2007. The two organizations maintain a working relationship and share space at the Get Outside Center.
  • 2003 CAVPT first presented Snakes of Massachusetts and the World as one of our programs; this later became known as Snakes of New England and the World.
  • Sam Bevins’ introduction to CAVPT, at age 5, was at one of our snake shows. By age 8 he was volunteering and quickly roped his whole family into the act; they remain major contributors to this day.
  • Starting in 2004 Rick, Nick, and Nathan Mineo worked with Dan Wells of Hyla Ecological Services; this enabled the group to hone its certification skills and learn turtle-and salamander- trapping for rare species habitat surveys. Dan eventually became a Board member.
  • 2005 Cheryl “Char” Briscoe joined the Team as our official graphic designer.
  • 2006 Gloria Parsons and her Leader Scouts, drew up the list of requirements, and together we launched Cape Ann Vernal Pond Scouts Patch Program - 13 Girl Scouts received a patch in the first year. Over 100 Boy and Girl Scouts have earned their patches.
  • Several members of the Team attended Vernal Pond Association workshops, led by Leo Kenney & Matt Burne, where we learned more about vernal pools and about updates to the certification requirements. Real fun and informative.
  • In 2005 Ileen Graham worked her magic to get us incorporated with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • Tori Rosati joined the Team as our grant writer. What would we have done without Tori?
  • 2006 Our first office (really just a desk shared with Kestrel Educational Adventures) at Cape Ann Business Incubator (CABI).
  • 2006 Obtained 501(c)(3) non-profit status with the IRS. Which means you can make a donation to us at any time and write it off on your taxes.
  • We met Julia Camille at a vernal pool field trip for her Brownie troop. Soon Julia began volunteering for CAVPT and recruited her whole family; they became another valuable bunch of stalwarts for the cause.
  • 2008 Sam Park (of Gloucester Crossing) donated $10,000 in mitigation for the loss of upland habitat of three vernal pools. The money was earmarked for vernal pond certification; we used it to certify 30 pools in West Gloucester.
  • Nick Taormina published an article in Mass Wildlife Magazine about his involvement with CAVPT and our work certifying vernal ponds. Check out the full article here.
  • 2009 We outgrew the desk in CABI and, along with KEA, moved the office to Lexington Avenue in Magnolia. 
  • Nice article by Sara Lenoe about CAVPT in Cape Ann Magazine; she wrote about us again for Sierra Magazine (her alias Sara Martel).
  • Julia Camille and Kelly Finnerty certified two vernal pools as an extra-credit project for their 7th grade science class at Manchester Essex Regional Middle School.
  • 2010 We held our first benefit concert and raffle with great music by Charlie Farren & Jon Butcher.
  • John Gallagher came to a CAVPT presentation at the Cape Ann Discovery Center and became a regular volunteer - helping out at almost every single program since then.
  • 2014 Boston Globe Magazine published “Two Rick Roths Walk into a Bar, written by Nicci Cataldo. Yes, our Rick Roth and another Rick Roth (from Littleton) both do live animal presentations; the pair was later interviewed by Margery Egan and Jim Braude on Boston Public Radio.
  • 2014 We moved the office to the Get Outside Center at 186 Main Street in Gloucester.
  • Nick and Rick conducted our first turtle survey in the spring; the objective being to establish Blanding's turtle habitat.
  • Became a Manchester Essex Regional High School Green Team participating organization with the help of Team Leader Eric Magers; Green Team Scholar Ben Alger will attempt to drag us kicking and screaming into the world of 21st century technology.
  • 2015 We celebrated our 25th Anniversary! We held a benefit concert featuring The Fools and a silent auction. How did 25 years go by so fast?
  • We certified more than 150 vernal ponds and now hold over 50 activities a year. Wonder how we do it? So do we!
  • 2017 We launched our new membership website that allows us to communicate with all of you. We are working toward our Vision and hope to retain your support and our sense of humor along the way.

A whole bunch of people have helped CAVPT over the years and we are so glad you are part of our Team! 

Find this sign and discover where we 
certified our first vernal pools...

Vintage CAVPT!

One of our early Earth Day exhibits

Our first kid volunteer...Curtis Sarkin

Our award winning Vernal Ponds Movie promoting education and conservation

Our notorious yard sale!

 Nick working on his wetland habitat thesis
...also former president

  Snakes of Massachusetts and the World
presented by Rick

   By age 8
Sam Bevins begins volunteerism for CAVPT

Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team 
Scout Patch Program

We met young Julia Camille at a vernal pool 
field trip for her Brownie Troop and she 
began to volunteer soon after

Article in Massachusetts Wildlife Magazine
by Nick Taormina about his involvement 
with the Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team

Julia Camille and Kelly Finnerty in Middle School certifying vernal ponds for "extra credit"

 Our very first Concert featuring
Jon Butcher and Charlie Farren...2010

Two Ricks

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Cape Ann Vernal Pond Team    *    Get Outside Center   *   186 Main Street    *    Gloucester, MA  01930

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