Say it with us! Join the 2017 #iheartestuaries campaign on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and IRL on February 12, 13, and 14. Raise your voice on behalf of estuaries. Call out to Congress with a simple message: "I care about estuaries and this is why…"
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.
Last Thursday, I was fortunate to be among about 75 people who gathered at the Footbridge Beach parking lot in Ogunquit to unveil a rock dedicating the estuary in memory of Isabel Lewando who died in 2011. Isabel came to Ogunquit in the 1950's and established herself as a model, artist, writer, and photographer. She was also a life-long defender of the environment, particularly the Ogunquit River and beach.
The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune Sunday edition, 9/21/2014.
With a too-short summer and the back-to-school fracas, anyone would be pardoned for missing the official Congressional resolution naming this coming week “National Estuaries Week,” the annual celebration of the places where rivers meet the sea.
Before you get too excited, please understand that the resolution is merely pending, and that estuaries don’t get the whole month. According to Congress, the entire 30 days of September have, in recent years, been reserved for Gospel Music Heritage, Bourbon Heritage, Prostate Cancer Awareness, Childhood Obesity, Honey, and even Self-Awareness. (And you thought our legislators didn’t do anything – shame on you.)
Resolved or not, 1/52nd of a year certainly seems like a worthy amount of time to devote to estuaries, those humble places of mud and marsh that do so much.
As a warm-up to the 2014 #iheartestuaries campaign, I asked all of our staff to fill in the blank in this sentence: "I love estuaries because __________." Here are the responses…
The following was published in the Biddeford-Saco Journal Tribune and Making It At Home Sunday editions, 2/9/2014.
Recent snows to the contrary, believe me when I say the sun is already stronger this month. Higher in the sky every day, the sun hangs out longer and illuminates what was, last month, in shadow. For those afflicted by Seasonal Affective Disorder, the hardest days have passed. As we rebound from winter’s darkest depths, springs begins to stir in the hormonal systems of other species, particularly those who mate seasonally. Chicken-keepers, awake -- egg production should, the science says, begin to naturally increase. Birders, delight -- as the sun returns, testosterone blooms with it and male birds will grow more colorful and vocal in preparation for their season of love. (The technical term for these seasonal environmental cues is the wonderful German word zeitgeber, or “time giver,” coined by Jürgen Aschoff, a founding father in the field of chronobiology.) Chemically, love is arriving. …how did St. Valentine know?
Associated People Michele Dionne
Restore Americas Estuaries, the "cohesive force and guiding beacon for coastal and estuarine habitat restoration across the country," will hold its sixth national conference next October in Tampa, Florida, with the theme "Restoring Ecosystems, Strengthening Communities." The deadline for proposals is February 1.
From the conference website:
We are particularly interested in proposals for sessions, presentations, and posters dealing with the interface of the environment and the economy, but all proposals relevant to coastal habitat restoration will not only be considered, but are highly encouraged.
Sixty-six second graders from South Berwick are out on the trails today, split into groups with six Wells Reserve docents. It's cool and gray, but most of them are prepared for their couple of hours in the woods, along the salt marsh, and on the beach.
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