Island Updates

Volunteers Make the Island Go Round

Volunteers are part of the life blood of Hurricane. Three times each year, we put the call out for volunteers to help us open the Island in the Spring, get projects done in the early Summer, and then help us put the Island to bed for the winter. Kind of a cycle of life on the Island J Each time we have amazing volunteers who brave the elements, put on their work gloves, and journey out to the Island with smiles on their faces. Some of these folks have been volunteering with us for years, others are brand new, some are octogenarians, some are still in the single digits! No matter when folks choose to join the family of Hurricane Island, they are welcome and we are so thankful for them.

Our Science Educators, Isabelle Holt and Robin Chernow, lead the effort on our last Volunteer Day of 2017. 

Our Science Educators, Isabelle Holt and Robin Chernow, lead the effort on our last Volunteer Day of 2017. 

It seems like we’re always going through transition – re-shingling the roof, replacing a solar panel, expanding the garden, hiring new people to join the team – and just like a family, our volunteers show up every time to support us through the years. Many of these volunteers have been connected to Hurricane long before I came along and before many of us came along. They share memories and stories that continue the connection to the community that has existed on Hurricane in the past and the new connection that we’re creating with HICSL. This connection only strengthens over the years and makes us stronger as a community and as an organization. For those that are new to Hurricane, they learn from others about the magic of Hurricane and dig right in to help us maintain and improve our rocky island classroom with joy and determination.

There's our stalwart single digit Volunteer, Julian Deliso, making sure everyone stays on task and safe while we de-shingle the roof.

There's our stalwart single digit Volunteer, Julian Deliso, making sure everyone stays on task and safe while we de-shingle the roof.

Ruth in the lead in the garden and outlasting us all...no one else makes sure our garden gets planted like Ruth does!

Ruth in the lead in the garden and outlasting us all...no one else makes sure our garden gets planted like Ruth does!

Ruth also taking the lead in showing us how to appreciate a much-deserved break :)

Ruth also taking the lead in showing us how to appreciate a much-deserved break :)

As we end our Island season and move into the winter season, we want to recognize our Volunteers and say thank you for all that they do for us. It’s not just the get dirty part of the Volunteering on the Island…they show up at events, follow us on social media, put us in touch with people, stop by the office and just say hi and laugh a little. All of these amazing gestures mean more to us than our volunteers will ever know. It is these simple things, these little things that keep us connected to the broader community of Hurricane and help us to grow it and nurture it. We LOVE our volunteers and can’t wait to see them next time!

If you’re interested in learning how to get involved with Hurricane, visit our website Volunteer Page. Our 2018 Volunteer Days are posted and you can register for the Day of your choice by filling out the form at the bottom of the page. There are other ways to get involved..reach out to us at info@hurricaneisland.net, call our mainland office at 207-867-6050, or just stop by the office and say hello to learn more. Thank you thank you and we’ll see you on Hurricane!

Albert Kolodji, as usual, getting EVERYTHING done. Albert has been volunteering with us since the beginning and we would not be where we are without him. 

Albert Kolodji, as usual, getting EVERYTHING done. Albert has been volunteering with us since the beginning and we would not be where we are without him. 

Our new Executive Director, Bo Hoppin, might be covering more ground than his crew :)

Our new Executive Director, Bo Hoppin, might be covering more ground than his crew :)

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Endings and Beginnings: Oak Hill High School

Guest blog post by Science Educator Isabelle Holt

Enjoying the views from Gibbons

Enjoying the views from Gibbons

For the first time ever Oak Hill High School joined us on Hurricane for their very own island experience. While it was Oak Hill’s first time on Hurricane, it was our last on-island program as a staff this season. Together we bookended each other’s experiences. The energy and excitement Oak Hill’s first year class brought to the island was the perfect note on which to end a long, eventful, and wonderful season.

School leaders enjoying the time on Hurricane!

School leaders enjoying the time on Hurricane!

The first year class was split in half and each half, the A and B teams, spent 25 hours on the island, which meant that we had to pack a lot into the little time we had together. One singular and wonderful thing about the Oak Hill program was that we were not only joined by teachers from the school, we were also joined by the Oak Hill High principal, Marco Aliberti, and vice principal, Laurie Catanese. It is not often that we get to dig around in the intertidal with both students and their administrators alike These school leaders mirrored the excitement shown by their students at finding crabs and uncovering dog whelk eggs.

(Raft) challenge accepted!

(Raft) challenge accepted!

Oak Hill is trying to shift the culture of the school towards being more field trip orientated and the school’s trip to Hurricane was an important first step towards that goal. Many students and parents were initially nervous about the trip and fewer students than expected attended the first round in team A. However, by the time team B came out to the island the word had spread about the magic of this place and more than the expected number of students were in attendance.

High cliffs hangout. 

High cliffs hangout. 

One common theme among the feedback received from the Oak Hill students was how much fun it was to be able to learn science while out of doors and explore the island. All the Hurricane island classics were observed, from the raft challenge, to learning about scallops, and from the history hike, to squeezing through the “cracks.” As an educator it was a joy to have such an enthusiastic and adventurous group of students for my last program. There is something about sharing the Hurricane island experience with others that truly brings it alive for one’s self. I will dearly miss hearing my students’ exclamations, questions, comments, and even complaints as we learn and discover together. On Hurricane each day, each group, and each student make our community stronger as it grows and changes from season to season. Here’s looking forward to next year!

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Watershed School: Challenge by Choice

Guest blog post by Science Educator Dana Colihan

Some laughs at the rock wall

Some laughs at the rock wall

Earlier this fall, Watershed School came to Hurricane Island for their orientation trip. Watershed is a small alternative high school that centers innovative teaching and project based learning. While at Hurricane Island, Watershed focused on growing their community and team building exercises. As an entire high school, students went rock climbing, rowing, built rafts, as well as participated in intentional debriefing time together. During these activities, Watershed faculty and students explored one of Hurricane Island’s core values, “challenge by choice.”

Student's belaying their classmates

Student's belaying their classmates

Our Lead Science Educator, Robin Chernow, has a favorite quote, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” Just outside your comfort zone is your growth zone, but if you don’t leave your comfort zone, you will never be challenged to grow. We believe that we should lean into our discomfort. Being uncomfortable is usually a sign that learning is occurring! However, just beyond your growth zone is your danger zone. At Hurricane Island, we will not put students into their danger zones. We will never make a student do something they don’t want to do, but will encourage them to challenge themselves. What’s really important to realize about this is that we all have different comfort, growth, and danger zones. Some students can climb all the way up to the top of the rockwall unphased, but for others stepping on a boat and staying on an island is difficult.

A wave from the top!

A wave from the top!

On their last night at Hurricane Island, Watershed faculty led a reflection at a campfire about these concepts. Students and staff shared something that had been challenging for them on the trip, a way that they could push themselves tomorrow, and how they would bring these strategies back to Watershed. A few students shared that physically being on an island and certain activities really put them outside of their comfort zones. A couple other students said that some of the activities weren’t challenging for them, but being at a new school or trying to make new friends pushed them a lot. It was powerful to see so many students openly share about things that were difficult for them. I was impressed at the level to which these students could openly talk about their feelings. It is an important skill that not everyone has and not all schools teach.

Leap of faith!

Leap of faith!

The next day, students who hadn’t felt particularly challenged yet pushed themselves out of their comfort zones in different ways. Some decided to take the polar plunge, while others sat with new people at breakfast. Throughout this program, I enjoyed seeing how Watershed engaged with this concept so intentionally. As individuals challenged themselves personally with the support of their peers, the school grew together as a community.

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A Newsworthy Visit

I remember the last Earth Day vividly. On Saturday April 22, 2017, Rockland faced heavy rains and cold, 40 degree F weather. April 22 was also the date of Hurricane’s Annual Free Teacher Day.  Due to the unpleasant weather and the imminent early morning boat ride across the bay, my colleagues Jenn, Phoebe, and I were not expecting a big turnout. However, we met an eager crew of teachers in our Rockland office, before a wet boat ride out to Hurricane.

Two of those teachers had traveled all the way from Lexington, Massachusetts. Paula and Helena are teachers at the Waldorf School of Lexington and they wanted to scope out Hurricane as a field trip destination for their 7th and 8th grade students.

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Waldorf School of Lexington students explore Hurricane's intertidal zone.

This fall, we welcomed 30 students from the Massachusetts school. With an emphasis on getting to know classmates, being outside of one’s comfort zone, and hands-on science, the program featured many Hurricane favorites: intertidal explorations, the raft-building challenge, rock climbing, lobstering, scallop aquaculture, campfire, and hiking to the crack.

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Checking out critters!

With so many “classics” during the program, and so many energetic, open-minded middle school students, these four days were an opportune time span for a visit from CBS 13 news reporter Adam Epstein. He and his cameraman visited Hurricane for a day, interviewing staff, students, and teachers alike, aiming to share the happenings of Hurricane Island with a public audience. The final film aired on an evening newscast on Thursday Sept 14, and can be viewed online here.

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Fun at the climbing wall!

Thank you to the Waldorf School of Lexington teachers and students for being a part of our Hurricane community, and for helping us share that with others.

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North Haven Community School: Learning to live by

Guest blog post by Science Educator Dana Colihan

Austin and Irene make apple cider

Austin and Irene make apple cider

Last Week, 11 high school students from North Haven Community School journeyed to Hurricane Island for their fall expedition. This felt like a particularly important group to have because these students live so locally. Many have grown up on North Haven, have visited Hurricane Island before and will come here again. This year’s class has also three international students and a few new magnet students from the mainland. It was a joy to share the island with this mix of students who were both returning here and experiencing the island for the first time.

With this group, our activities had elevated significance and connections beyond our shores. The place based education that we teach on Hurricane was not confined to this island, but were pieces of knowledge these students could bring back home with them.

Students strategize the raft challenge

Students strategize the raft challenge

The most memorable example of this was teaching the students about the scallop aquaculture research occurring on the island. If climate change continues to warm the Gulf of Maine, many fisherman are afraid lobsters will move further north and to deeper waters in search of colder temperatures. People are looking to aquaculture as an alternative or addition to lobstering. Still using the ocean, it could be a more controlled and sustainable option.

Tyrese and Arnd belaying at the rock wall

Tyrese and Arnd belaying at the rock wall

To grow scallops on Hurricane Island, we deploy spat bags to harvest them in their planktonic form. Upon showing the spat bags to the students, one joked, “Hey, can I take one of those home with me?” Another was excited to see our aquaculture equipment in action, having already done a lot of research about scallop aquaculture techniques himself. Both of these students have grown up lobstering and come from six and seventh generation lobstering families. If they are already interested in this process in high school, there is hope that they could be growing their own scallops in a few years! While it can be tricky to get a license, our Research Technician Bailey Moritz was able to connect them with additional information about the process.

Working with these students reminded me of the value of doing placed based education with people connected to place. It is important to share this island with individuals who have never been to Maine or an island before. It is sometimes even more meaningful to share it with communities who live a just a stone's throw away.

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Fryeburg Academy: Jumping into Hurricane!

Guest blog post by Science Educator Dana Colihan

Fryeburg Academy on their last morning!

Fryeburg Academy on their last morning!

This past weekend, seven students from Fryeburg Academy’s AP Environmental Science class traveled to Hurricane Island. This is Fryeburg’s third trip to the island with their teacher John Urgese, who brings a new group of students every year. The group consisted of two local students from Maine and five international students from China.

The crew landed on Hurricane Island on Saturday afternoon. Despite being late September, it was a hot day, and one of the first questions I received in the welcome circle was if we had any extra swimsuits. I was delighted to hear that a few of the students still wanted to brave our chilly waters and take the swim test. Rustling up a few extra trunks, four of the students decided to jump in after lunch.

Using stadia rods in the field

Using stadia rods in the field

I grew up a water rat. I grew up with a penchant for flinging myself off of piers and into icy waters. Rivers, ponds, and lakes were fine, but nothing quite satisfied this urge like jumping into the ocean in Maine. My mom would always yell, “one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four… to… go!” At which point, I would make the plunge. It’s a ditty I have brought with me to Hurricane Island, and enjoy sharing with our programs. As I stood on the pier holding our bright orange life-ring, I encouraged students by counting down, “One for the money! Two for the show! Three to get ready! And four to go!”

Jumping in goes against your instincts. The water is cold and wet, and the jump can be far. And yet for many, it’s an exhilarating thrill that feels so right. One of the students in particular, Ricky, after a couple jumps started to shiver, but kept wanting to go again.

Exploring on Gibbons Point

Exploring on Gibbons Point

All of the students from Fryeburg Academy leapt into their time on Hurricane Island. While the group was only able to be here for 24 hours, we effectively utilized our time together. We went swimming, took a history hike, had a campfire, walked the perimeter trail, learned about climate change’s effects on our oceans, as well as how to use stadia rods to measure sea level rise in the field. It was a joy to have this group of engaged and inquisitive students who jumped right in to their time on Hurricane Island, both literally and figuratively.

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All Hands - Proctor Academy's Ocean Classroom

Guest blog post by Science Educator Isabelle Holt

A student stands and uses his raft as a paddle board.

A student stands and uses his raft as a paddle board.

The students from Proctor Academy’s 2017 Ocean Classroom expedition came to Hurricane this past week to spend some time doing all-hands activities as well as building watch pride, before setting off for their term-long voyage aboard the Roseway.  Proctor Academy partners with World Ocean School to give students the unique experience of not only learning marine science, literature, history, and navigation, but also allowing students to be active working members of the Roseway crew. 

Unity and trust in one another are vital to the successful operation of any sailing vessel and this is what we aimed to build while the Proctor students were here on Hurricane.  Proctor’s time on Hurricane is one of the few times that the whole group of students gets to spend quality time together while rotating through a slate of classic Hurricane Island activities and the call and response of ‘all hands’ rang out across the island whenever the attention of the entire crew was required.

Students from C watch stand by as their watch-mates make the crossing

Students from C watch stand by as their watch-mates make the crossing

The torrential rain, the effects of Hurricane Jose, did not deter us from getting out into the intertidal zone. This was the only time that these students will get to interact with the rocky intertidal environment as all of the science they will be doing aboard Roseway will be offshore. While on Hurricane, we encouraged students to start thinking about data and how different kinds of data are useful for different things through both collecting sea surface data as well as data on marine debris. After doing an extensive marine debris cleanup, each watch used the data collected to help them brainstorm a couple of solutions to the massive marine debris problem our oceans are facing. Some solution highlights included making cigarette filters out of biodegradable mushroom mycelium and inventing a underwater ocean WALL-E to compact trash bricks that could be used as sustainable building materials.

Each watch employs a different technique for getting across the pond

Each watch employs a different technique for getting across the pond

Students lobstered, squeezed through ‘the cracks,’ geologic formations caused by freezing water splitting granite boulders apart, enjoyed reflective sit-spots, rowed the gigs, and learned about all of the fabulous research occurring here on Hurricane. A crowd favorite was the raft challenge, where each watch of seven people was responsible for building a raft that could carry them across the ice pond and back without anyone falling into the drink. While only one team was successful this year, a good time was had by all and each watch learned how to work together more effectively moving forward.

Students renegotiate after disaster has struck their raft

Students renegotiate after disaster has struck their raft

We wish the Roseway fair winds and following seas as they set off on their journey. If you want to follow the progress of the 2017 expedition and all that these talented and engaging students are doing click here!

 

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Under Pressure: Hurricane Island Cider Pressing with Ocean Passages

Guest blog post by Science Educator Isabelle Holt

Students reach to gather apples along what used to be the main street of the Hurricane Island quarry town.

Students reach to gather apples along what used to be the main street of the Hurricane Island quarry town.

We had Ocean Passages’ gap year students out on Hurricane for the weekend. This is the beginning of a semester-long adventure for these six students, during which they will be sailing down the East Coast to Cuba. Before setting off on the Harvey Gamage,  the Ocean Passages students got a taste of what living in a small, intentional, community feels like through their time on Hurricane.

Fall has arrived on Hurricane Island, with its thick fogs, and longer, colder nights. With the fall comes a time honored, New England tradition: apple cider pressing. We frequently incorporate foraging for edible plants on the island into our programming. As fall has brought a scarcity of wild edibles we have turned our attention to the ripening apples on the trees that are most likely descendants of those left behind by the quarrymen when they left the island more than 100 years ago.

Students operate the cider press!

Students operate the cider press!

We gathered two milk crates worth of apples from the trees along Main Street to press in our very own Sam Hallowell's antique cider press. A cider press is the perfect example of how a complex system can be made by combining a few simple mechanical parts. The apples were fed one-by-one into the fruit grinder, an example of a wheel and axle, until the barrel below was full. The pomace (the ground apples) were then moved to the actual press portion of the apparatus, which is functionally just a giant screw that places pressure on the apples themselves, where the Ocean Passages students cranked with gusto. As pressure was applied via the screw mechanism, the inclined plane of the bottom of the press allowed the freshly squeezed juice to flow through a filter and into our pitchers. 

Not only was this a lesson in simple machinery, this was the first time most of the students had made their own apple cider and the fruits of their labors were enjoyed by the whole Hurricane community. 

Taking a breather during an island perimeter hike to commune with the granite and take in the views.

Taking a breather during an island perimeter hike to commune with the granite and take in the views.

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