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Meet the 'Leaf Squad': Volunteer Vermonters who help create fall foliage reports

Orange, yellow and green leaves on trees on a mountain.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
The leaves put on a spectacular show along the Long Trail, south on Camel's Hump.

Thousands flock to Vermont each autumn to peep the state's spectacular foliage, with many turning to fall foliage reports to chase peak color.

The reports — compiled by with help from the Vermont Department of Tourism — are a team effort, and part of that team includes a group of volunteers called the "Leaf Squad."

Vermont fall foliage drone footage | Credit: Kyle Ambusk, Vermont Public

“The process of organizing the report has changed over the years,” said Renee Marie Smith, an administrative assistant and graphic design artist with who has been managing the Leaf Squad since 2007. "We typically start contacting people in August to ask if they'd like to be on the Leaf Squad this year.”

Beginning in early September, volunteers begin looking for the first evidence of changing leaves. They photograph the foliage, write an accompanying report, consult the Farmer’s Almanac for the weather reports, and highlight local events.

The reports serve as scientific documentation, but also showcase what autumn looks like throughout the state, including the way its arrival is welcomed through harvest festivals and baking competitions.

Robin Green is the manager of the Manchester View Hotel and has been a member of the Leaf Squad for three years. She says in autumn, peeping for leaves is part of her day-to-day.

"I drive around, wherever I’m going, and I just keep looking for the best trees, the best scenery," she said. "I really enjoy doing it. When I tell people that I do it they always smile — 'The Leaf Squad, that’s so cute!'"

"I really enjoy doing it. When I tell people that I do it they always smile — 'The Leaf Squad, that’s so cute!'"
Robin Green, member of the Leaf Squad

She said being a member of the team also taps into her creative side.

“Right away I was interested because my degree, my bachelor’s degree, is in fine arts and I majored in photography," Green said. "So the idea of just getting out there and taking pictures, even though it’s just with my phone – I was really into that idea. And I also like to write a lot, so putting the two together was really a neat thing for me.”

You can find fall foliage reports here.

This story is a collaboration between Vermont Public and the Community News Service. The Community News Service is a student-powered partnership between the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program and community newspapers across Vermont.

Samantha Watson is a senior at the University of Vermont.
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