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In 2012, ECHO began the work on ten short films designed to engage visitors on messages of cultural history, stewardship, environmental caring and the ecological richness and vulnerability of the Lake Champlain Basin.

The films are scheduled by the ECHO Education Team and are shown in the Revision Lakeside Pavilion, a beautiful space along the waterside of ECHO with state-of-the-art sound and projection technology. Each film has closed caption capability for universal sharing.

Native American Films

Four of the films focus on stories of the indigenous people of the Champlain Valley. ECHO teamed up with Vermont ethnographer Ned Castle and award-winning Vermont filmmaker Matt Day to create the four films in our Native American series.

Ash to Baskets

A functional art form is preserved through the deep dedication to learning and sharing traditional Native American skills needed to create ash baskets. Abenaki , Jesse Larocque walks through the forest to a grove of ash trees and explains how to choose the right tree. “You find the perfect tree and then you take the second best, leaving the best tree as an example of what to look for.” Using traditional tools and a demanding technique of rhythm and strength, he pounds the wood splints from the tree and then demonstrates the art of creating a basket. Runtime: 7 min. 37 sec.

You can see one of Jesse’s eel baskets on the Mezzanine floor at ECHO and on our top floor you can find information about Ash trees, practice your weaving skills and, by using your phone, you can watch an interview about basket making. 

Circle of Courage

In the small northern community of Swanton, VT, Abenaki elder Brenda Gagne teaches a group of local students traditional Abenaki drum songs and dances that have been passed down from generation to generation. Along the way, the youth learn valuable lessons of leadership, patience, teamwork, honor and respect. Runtime: 6 min. 35 sec.

Melody of Language

Working closely together, Abenaki elder Elie Joseph Joubert and his mentee Jesse Bruchac lead a dedicated group of local people in learning and therefore preserving the Abenaki language before it disappears completely. People representing multiple generations gather regularly to practice and study the Abenaki language. But more than preserving a language, this is a way of preserving an entire culture that has been usurped by modern day America. Runtime: 9 min. 35 sec.

Be sure to visit the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s Resource Room on the top floor at ECHO where you can see a geographic map with Abenaki place names.

Walking in Two Worlds

Part 18th century war reenactment and part traditional Abenaki hunting camp adventure, this film follows the annual ritual of a small group of people that head to Lake George, NY to immerse themselves in nature and their ancestral life-ways. Their traditional clothing, hunting and fishing techniques and drum songs are all part of this sacred living history experience. Runtime: 12 min. 10 sec.

Wild Animal Films

Five films focusing on animals in the Lake Champlain Basin and the fragile environment they are a part of. ECHO spent the summer filming in and around the Lake Champlain Basin on all sides of the Lake to capture compelling footage of animals that live in the region. Each film tells the story of balance and imbalance these animals live with as they strive to keep their foothold and survive here.

Mink Frog

A delicate, beautiful frog with an unusual call (sounds like knocking), survives in shallow ponds where the temperature of the water means life or death. Dr. David Patrick, Assistant Professor of Fisheries and Wildlife at Paul Smith’s College, explains this predicament and what he is doing to study the delicate balance of habitat and climate upon which the mink frog’s survival depends. Runtime: 7 min. 18 sec.

In ECHO’s FrogWorld you can practice your frog calls and morph yourself into a frog to send to your friends.


Large and solid, the moose wanders in some of the densest forests in New England and in particular the Nulhegan Basin in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. Vermont Fish and Wildlife expert Cedric Alexander takes us to this basin and begins the search for signs of moose. During the journey we learn about how the moose population has stabilized after decades of being scarce. A new threat to the moose population is the warming climate and human development. Runtime: 11 min. 38 sec.

Periodically our volunteers have our moose encounter out for guests to touch moose fur, learn to recognize moose scat, handle jaws, antlers and examine the enormous size of a moose footprint.

Lake Sturgeon

Described as an “ancient fish” or “living fossil”, the lake sturgeon has remained basically unchanged for 90 million years. Today the lake sturgeon is a endangered species in Vermont. They are the largest fish in Lake Champlain and can achieve ages of up to 150 years. Eliminating human harvest has helped the species but, since they need to mature to 15 to 20 years before they spawn, it is the spawning streams that need to be protected. And, as the film shows, these streams are compromised by human development and more. Runtime: 8 min. 6 sec.

We have four Lake Sturgeon along with some of the other larger fish you’ll find in the Lake Champlain Basin in our Shipwreck Room. You’ll want to schedule your visit to coincide with a fish feeding by animal care.

Spiny Softshell Turtle

Though this unique turtle, with its leathery soft shell, is common throughout the central plains and the Midwest, in Vermont it is a threatened species. This film talks about the “head start” program, a cooperative arrangement between ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center and the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. Each year the department’s rare species biologist Steve Parren, collects eggs from compromised nest sites. He takes them home and incubates them. In October the neonates come to ECHO to over-winter and grow to 2x the size they would normally have grown had they hatched in the wild and hibernated over the winter. This extra size gives them a boost in survival over their ‘classmates” when they are released into the wild in June. During their stay at ECHO, they serve as exceptional animal ambassadors teaching ECHO guests about the importance of protecting the fragile habitat and nesting sites of this dwindling species. Runtime: 12 min. 31 sec.

Check out some of the larger spiny softshell turtles that may be basking or swimming along the “river’s edge” on the top floor of ECHO.

Bald Eagle

Majestic and striking, the bald eagle certainly catches attention. It was a thriving species in North America until the introduction of DDT in the 1940s and it was virtually wiped out of Vermont. Today it remains on the endangered list in Vermont and after decades of work, the eagle is returning to the state. John Buck of Vermont Fish and Wildlife tells us about the conservation efforts while Eddy Edwards, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Officer, takes us to an area in the Missisquoi River delta to view a nesting pair. Runtime: 9 min. 57 sec.

Champ Film

One film examines the mystery, majestic and magic of the local Lake monster known as Champ, and the now famous authenticated photograph of Vermont’s version of the Loch Ness monster.


In 1977, Sandra Mansi was enjoying a lazy day along the shore of Lake Champlain when she photographed something unusual, fascinating and frightening. Years later she would make a reluctant decision to share the photograph with the world and in so doing, it changed her life forever. This film tells the story of Sandra and how she has taken this one event and turned it into an opportunity to teach Lake stewardship and environmental “caring” to children throughout the Champlain Basin. Runtime: 9 min. 31 sec.

Our exhibit about Champ is in the shipwreck room. Come try your hand at drawing what you think Champ looks like or listen to the video with Sandra and others talking about their belief or skepticism about Champ. Our ECHO educators bring you programs about Champ in the summer and during the February school break.

©2015 Leahy Center for Lake Champlain - ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center - One College St. - Burlington VT 05401 - 802.864.1848 - 1.877.324.6386
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