Associated People Kristin Wilson
WELLS, Maine, December 8, 2014 — Scientists from around New England met at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve on December 5 for a workshop focused on “blue carbon” science and policy. For the first time, scientists from throughout the region gathered to share research results, identify gaps in knowledge, and plan future collaborations involving carbon in coastal habitats.
The term “blue carbon” refers to the ability of salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests to take up and store carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Coastal wetlands capture carbon and store it at rates even greater than rainforests.
“Carbon held naturally in coastal wetlands is not entering the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas, so these habitats have real potential to mitigate climate change,” said Dr. Kristin Wilson, Wells Reserve research director, who co-coordinated the workshop.
The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 12/7/2014.
My family likes to takes walks, particularly in the fall and winter. Given the calories we’re consuming lately, and the long nights given over to reading and TV, we’re trying to grab every opportunity we can to stretch our legs and lungs outside.
While golf may be a great way to spoil a long walk, as the saying goes, fortunately there’s nothing like the scientific method to enhance a little wander through the woods. Proposing, testing, and analyzing hypotheses prevents hypothermia by keeping the brain warm, I tell my wife and kids. They roll their eyes… but then we find something to examine.
Wow! What a year 2014 has been. Our education staff and volunteer docents have been busy in all seasons, and in all weather, providing awesome hands-on, field-based programs here at the Reserve-- and it's been a blast!
Every year, teachers from all over Maine, New Hampshire, and beyond get in touch with me to plan exciting outings to our estuary for their students. We offer a variety of guided programs, and most classes participate in our Exploring Estuaries, Microscopic Marvels, and Wild Friends in Wild Places field experiences. A number of other teachers work with me to develop custom programs tailored to their curriculum and student needs, and still others decide to strike out on their own for a self-paced, self-guided excursion on our trails. The result is always an impressive number of school-aged kids exploring the outdoors and learning how to be stewards of the natural world. But this year, our numbers were outstanding!
Our field trip seasons in the spring and fall total about 12 weeks in September, October, April, May, and June. During 2014, those active periods included 33 guided programs and 16 self-guided groups. Depending on the program, we had between 5 and 70 participants on each trip, all led by our talented and knowledgeable volunteer docents. Thanks to our docent team, we were able to reach a total of just about 1,200 students in 2014 through these guided programs! Thats up from just over 800 student particpants in guided experiences in 2013. Another 400 students explored the estuary on self-guided walks this year, consistent with past years.
These students and teachers come from all over, too. This year, 23 different schools and three homeschool groups visited from Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts-- from Portland to Portsmouth, Fryeburg to Freeport,and so many places in between, including, of course, the students in our own backyards of Wells, Kennebunk, and Kennebunkport.
I cannot thank the dedicated group of volunteer docents enough for the work that they do to promote education and stewardship here at the Wells Reserve. With a small education staff of just three, we would be unable to make an impact on such impressive numbers of children without their help.
With so many responsibilities faced by teachers and students inside the classroom everyday, we are thrilled to be able to lend a hand and provide outdoor time for children and adults alike to learn and recharge. There is no substitute for experiencing the ocean breeze while exploring human impacts at the beach, or for listening to the marsh and shore birds converse where the river meets the sea. The Wells Reserve is a wonderful place, and we're so glad to have been able to share it with so many students this year!
If you are interested in bringing your students to our site, or would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer docent leading our school programs, please contact Kate at (207) 646-1555 ext 110 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It sounds cool: Blue carbon. Have you heard of it? What does it make you think?
"I have no idea."
"Blue makes me think sky. Something to do with clear skies?"
"Sounds like a gun thing. Makes me think of guns."
"Is it a greenhouse emission?"
Okay, we're all over the place here. No doubt we need a clearer definition. Let's ask a Wells Reserve staffer.
Frankly, I don't understand why giving comes *after* shopping.
As if "whatever's left in the change purse" is what should go in the charity bucket once I'm through with the mall... or the Internet.
As if the other 364 days of the year, I should be... not giving?
I like to give. One Tuesday per year is not enough, I say.
One day is too little to devote to all the organizations, causes, places, and people I think are making our world better.
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