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Faces of the Forest Celebrates Mark Twery

Mark Twery, a supervisory research forester on the Northern Research Station

Mark Twery, a supervisory research forester on the Northern Research Station

How does a former dancer and theater technician end up in a career in forestry? Meet Mark Twery, a supervisory research forester on the Northern Research Station in Burlington, Vt., who is not only all of the above, but loves his unique job that incorporates forestry with dance.

Twery had a natural inclination toward the arts. His father was a painter while his mother continues to paint, and both of his siblings are artists in different respects. As a child, Twery toyed with the idea of becoming an artist himself.

Entering college thinking he would embark in mathematics, Twery quickly realized he preferred theater arts. During his junior year, he spent a semester working at a theater in New York City.

It was during a trip home to Virginia when Twery realized that he had been away from nature for too long.

“I went outside and I heard a strange noise above my head,” he said. “I looked up and saw a cardinal singing. I am a birder but did not recognize that bird song. That’s when I decided that I had lived in the big city for too long.”

This “wake-up call” led to Twery’s departure from theater in New York City to a brief career in woodworking in Boston.

“It was good work, but I didn’t earn enough and again I began getting tired of living in a city,” he said.

Twery returned to school intending to study wood technology, but instead entered the forestry master’s program at the University of Massachusetts. A Ph.D. soon followed as did a career with the Forest Service.

Several years ago, Twery and his wife attended a dance performance in Burlington that weaved art and science. Fascinated by this connection, Twery, as a Forest Service liaison at the Northern Research Station, began working with the dance company to create the Moving Fields Project that incorporates dance to teach elementary school students, primarily city youth, about nature and ecology.

During a typical Moving Fields Project session, Twery and dancers lead the young students to a nature area where they create movements based on what the children see or hear, such as “seeds floating off into the wind, or bark sliding off a dead tree or stepping into a pond and pulling your foot back.” Once Twery accompanied a group of inner city children from Baltimore on a Moving Fields session in a natural area, and at the end of the day, the elementary school students performed an ecological dance for their teachers and parents.

Being able to combine his love for dance and forestry is one big reason Twery loves his job.

“It really is true that artists and scientists follow the same steps of observation, analysis, interpretation, and communication,” he said. “It feels like I’m going full circle in my career by connecting visual and performing arts with forestry, ecology and the environment.”

See what else Twery has to say in the Forest Service special feature Faces of the Forest, a bi-weekly feature of the Office of Communication to showcase the people, places and professions within the agency.

4 Responses to “Faces of the Forest Celebrates Mark Twery”

  1. Julie Ito says:

    This is a wonderful concept you’ve arrived upon. I am a Horticulture Major and have always involved my children (now grown) in nature. The youngest is very interested and involved in the Arts, including dance, acting and singing. She has broad horizans now studying business, and the Arts as well as study abroad. Maybe something as inovative as this well spur her on and enable her to share as Mark is doing now. Thanks for the inspirational share!

  2. Mara Meyers says:

    Mark Twery is one of the most dedicated scientists, and one of the most effective and thoughtful advocates for educating our youth. It is an honor to know him and to have worked with him.

  3. Stan Fowler says:

    Hey Mark ,
    T’was great meeting you today at DanceExchange in Takoma Park . Great story above , I find very many parallels in our careers, yours in the Forest Service and mine in the Park Service , both evolving arts and sciences . I look forward to following the 500 miles and 500 stories walk .

    Stan Fowler
    retired park ranger

  4. Robert E. (Bob) Gentry says:

    Hey Mark ! Long time no see (hear, read, or anything). I just thought of you today (no particular reason) and I looked you up on Google. I am amazed at the various paths life has taken you….really cool. I wonder if Mrs. Knipp knows what we are doing these days. Best regards, and drop a line or two if the urge should arise. Take care, Ole Man (Bob) Gentry

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