Island Updates

Off-Island

Seasons, I’ve been thinking about seasons. Pretty hard not to when you live and work in a region that is ruled by the seasons, in a town that is influenced strongly by the seasons, with a waterfront that ebbs and flows with the seasonal migration of a marine species, on an island that is only open for 6 months of the year. A lot of us get asked “what do you do in the off season?” Funny thing is, there is no off season, just an off-island season :) So, here’s a little layout of what happens the rest of the year when we’re not actually on the Island.

 

 Teddy hard at work.

Teddy hard at work.

Come May, our mainland office really does clear out as most of us migrate out to the Island with the start of the season. Ask Julie, she gets nervous when all of her “chickens” leave the roost that time of year and she can’t keep tabs on us. We’ve had 2019 on the brain since the middle of the summer and start booking programs for the following year while we’re still enjoying life on the Island. Almost all of the logistical plans that make the island roll - what school is coming when with how many people – are planned this time of year. We still head out to the Island to keep tabs on our aquaculture site, the research we’re doing, and make sure that the Island stays tucked in tight through the cold and storms. We’re attending a lot of conferences for research, education, and development work and spreading the good work of who we are and what we do on Hurricane. Jenn even made it out to the Teton Science School in November! The Facilities team is scheming new sustainable ways to keep our island growing and thriving. We spend a lot of time in meetings together visioning for the future, reflecting on the season, creating new opportunities and partnerships, and enjoying working together as the creative, innovative, thoughtful, enthusiastic team that we are.

 

 Our view of the harbor.

Our view of the harbor.

Right now the big excitement in the office is that we’re gearing up for our annual office cleaning day, followed quickly by our annual holiday party. Yes, we do a very serious clean of the mainland office once a year…is that too much?! The holiday party is always a fun time to learn about food traditions of our year-round staff, NOT talk business, and exchange gifts that are really things that we just want to unload on someone else as part of our Yankee swap. One year Sam was sad he did not walk away with a singing Taylor Swift Christmas ornament and Caitlin got a new dive tank…you just never know what you’re going to get.

 

If you’ve never been to our mainland office, you should definitely stop by. We’re down here in Journey’s End Marina, on the water and listening to the wind in the rigging of all of the boats put to bed for the winter season. We have a full and beautiful view of Rockland Harbor, keeping us in time with the tides and a wary eye on the changing weather. Some of my favorite mornings are those wicked cold mornings when the whole harbor is socked in with the sea smoke rising up from the water. So, even though we’re off the Island, we still mark time by the same measures here in the office. The off-Island season is a time for all of us to be together. It sounds corny, but it’s true. Our organization is made up of people who really enjoy their time together, there is A LOT of laughing that happens in this place…it’s pretty much on par with the amount of work we do! Again, please come and say hi and see what the off-Island season is like :)

- Written by Phoebe Jekielek, Program Director

 Mid-morning light.

Mid-morning light.

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An Evening at Alnoba

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents.

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;

We borrow it from our children.”

- Native American saying

This past October, I was invited to the Alnoba Leadership Awards at the Lewis Family Foundation’s brand new state of the art facility in Kensington, New Hampshire. On October 17, Phoebe, Bo, Kelly and I walked beneath cloudy skies on a winding dirt path lined with granite pillars inscribed with quotes from famous people. As we entered the building we were amazed by the tall ceilings and beautiful wooden beams supporting the structure. We arrived just in time to listen to the conversation moderated by David Conover, a board member for HICSL, between the President and Forester for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, Jane Difley, Executive Director of Shoals Marine Laboratory, Jennifer Seavey, and Founder of Lubicon Solar, Melina Laboucan-Massimo.

After a beautiful farm to table dinner, we were surprised with an impromptu performance and led in group song, which was perhaps the best part of the night. I forgot his name, but he told us his project is called “Make America Sing Again”. After listening to his beat-boxing warm up, he led us in our own rendition of an African song. Then we sang “Lean on Me” in three rounds. If he can get a room of complete strangers to be able to sing with one another, he said, anything is possible.

Then the awards were given out. The CEO Environmental Responsibility Award for $10,000 was given to ReVision Energy Leadership Team including Phil Coupe, Bill Behrens, Fortunat Mueller, and Dan Clapp for their work with solar energy throughout New England. The ReVision leadership team donated $5,000 to the Conservation Law Foundation and $5,000 to Citizens Count. The Emerging Leader Award for $10,000 was given to Alex Freid, Founder and Co-Director for the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN). The Moral Courage in Leadership Award for $25,000 was given to Jane Difley, President/Forester for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests.

At the end of the day, we were thrilled to see the brand new facilities at Alnoba and honored to be a part of this amazing group of environmental leaders.

Written by Marketing & Stewardship Coordinator, Caroline Albertson

Pictures courtesy of Alnoba.org.

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Oak Hill’s October Adventure

The first week of October was busy on Hurricane! We enjoyed lots of energy and curiosity from the 50+ Oak Hill freshmen who joined us. For the second year in a row, Maine’s Oak Hill High School has offered a freshman trip to Hurricane. Due to a large freshman class, the students were split into two groups, visiting either Monday to Wednesday or Wednesday to Friday, and in both groups, there were students experiencing their first boat rides as we journeyed across Penobscot Bay!

 Chilly weather didn’t get in the way of a refreshing ocean dip!

Chilly weather didn’t get in the way of a refreshing ocean dip!

The first group experienced lots of cold and rainy weather, yet spirits remained high. Many students reflected that a highlight of the trip was our perimeter hike and sit spot at Gibbons Point - during chilly wet weather with high winds! It added a sense of adventure and common experience to the occasion. The second group enjoyed warmer, sunnier weather for activities like the raft building challenge and our exploration of the intertidal zone.

 Teams discuss their approaches to the raft building challenge!

Teams discuss their approaches to the raft building challenge!

One of the goals of the trip was to build cohesion and community among the freshman class. Students laughed through numerous team challenges, and several students shared that by the end of the trip, they felt more comfortable around their peers, especially those outside their friend groups.

They also delved into some marine science while they were on Hurricane. Investigating intertidal organisms, students unsurprisingly were excited to find crabs of varying sizes and colors. Several students sacrificed their dry pants and socks to search for urchins too. On campus, they embraced learning about aquaculture and plankton as they held our baby scallops and identified plankton under the microscope. Personally I enjoyed sharing our ocean setting with these students who spend most of their time inland. Several expressed an interest in returning, so I hope to see them back on Hurricane in 2019!

 An urchin under observation by Oak Hill students.

An urchin under observation by Oak Hill students.


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Back to school on Hurricane

These past few weeks, students around the country have filled their backpacks with notebooks and pencils and have gone back to school, getting to know new classmates and teachers. Two local midcoast Maine schools joined us on Hurricane for back-to-school days full of island exploring, teamwork, and tone-setting for the year to come.

On Tuesday, the Camden-Rockport Elementary School sent its 1st and 2nd graders from the multiage classroom out to Hurricane for the day. This was our third year in a row spending the first day of school with the multiage group, and what a great way to spend the day! Their teachers had worked with us over the summer to plan the curriculum - launching into their first science unit about the sun! We explored shadow shapes, created art on solar paper, investigated temperature on different colored surfaces, hiked to see Hurricane’s different solar panels, and more! Of course we took advantage of low tide to visit the intertidal zone - these students are experts after their rocky coast unit last year in school. The final challenge of the day was structure building: can you design a structure to shade and cool a metal bowl of water? The students were creative, curious, and attentive, and I enjoyed spending the day with these younger learners. What a fun first day of school!

 Multiage students present their shade structure at the end of a sunny day on Hurricane!

Multiage students present their shade structure at the end of a sunny day on Hurricane!

On Wednesday we experienced the first day of school AGAIN! Camden-based Watershed School brought their 20 high school students for three days on Hurricane, also for the third consecutive year. This trip was focused on leadership, being outside, and establishing school culture and values. Highlights included the team communication and structure-building challenge “looker-runner-builder,” rock climbing and rappelling, pier jumps, and rowing. Some of us even rowed all the way around Hurricane! I enjoyed seeing seniors befriend freshmen and observing students push their comfort zones in different environments. It was also fun to see the many returning students from this group, and to appreciate how they have grown over the past few years.

 Watershed students hone their rowing rhythm.

Watershed students hone their rowing rhythm.

Thanks to both Camden-Rockport Elementary and Watershed School students for joining us during your first week of school! We wish you a wonderful school year and we hope to see you back on Hurricane soon!




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Moving about the kitchen cooking for community

Guest blog post from Kitchen Assistant Teagan Wu

When asked if I wanted to participate in the High School Sustainability Leadership week, I immediately lit up with a smile and proposed a sauerkraut making workshop. I imagined each student creating their own jar of ginger carrots and working together to chop red and green cabbage. After much anticipation, I greeted a group of students eager to learn. In our opening circle, I was struck by each student’s openness to try a new activity and expand their understanding of fermented foods.

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In my opinion, no sauerkraut workshop is complete without a snack, so we began by tasting different kinds of hummus; beet, roasted carrot parsley, and black bean. We also tasted some red cabbage, beet, garlic, and ginger sauerkraut that was ready after fermenting for about a week. This sparked curiosity and excitement among the students. I spoke about how eating sauerkraut provides our gut with beneficial bacteria thereby supporting the whole body. In my experience, it is necessary to take action in order to connect with food and care about health benefits.

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As a group, we dove right into chopping carrots and slicing garlic and ginger, tasting along the way. We started sauerkraut by first massaging the slices of cabbage with a small amount of sea salt in order for the fibers to release moisture and create a brine. I remember making sauerkraut for the first time in my college fermented foods class this past winter. I got to feel with all my senses how the cabbage went from dry to wet, crunchy to soft and salty. I was reminded of these surprises as the students joined their hands together to massage the cabbage, creating a squeaky sounding music.

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I got to smile and laugh with the students throughout the process. We marveled at the bright purple cabbage packed inside the jar, shimmering in the light. With three quart jars of sauerkraut beginning to ferment, we gathered in a circle once more to conclude. This felt more like a beginning than an ending. Each person got to check in about their experience and share their observations, feelings, and hopes. Several remarked on how simple the process was and others expressed how they wished to try making fermented foods at home. I looked around the circle and felt a wave of gratitude for getting to share the activity with them.

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Working here in the kitchen at Hurricane Island this summer has ignited my creativity and enthusiasm for cooking. By immersing myself in preparing meals each day, I discover a rich and expansive world of possibilities. I get the opportunity to collaborate with the kitchen team to transform leftovers into new dishes. Black bean soups have become burgers with just a few added ingredients and frittatas have evolved into egg salads. I am often surprised at the recipes that take shape in the moment. I have felt energized to make sauerkraut, trusting my senses to combine beets, fennel, and carrots into colorful blends. In the kitchen one afternoon, I immersed myself in the process of chopping cabbage, listening to silence and occasionally looking out through the windows to the ocean. These experiences cooking deepen who I am and allow me to stand grounded. As we gather in a circle as community before each dinner, I feel how I am connected to others. Together we feel our relationship to place and all that sustains us.

Each day is a gift to move about the kitchen as a team cooking for community. Making meals for others and myself asks that I engage with a sense of purpose and love for the greater whole. I keep returning to how food is connected with our hearts and minds, not only our bodies.

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I learn every time I say yes to cooking. I listen to natural movements that guide me to try new salads or arrange a platter of vegetables in a certain way. I delight in beauty. I arrive again and again to gratitude; breathing in the salty air on my walk to the kitchen, stirring onions and garlic, building a plate of colorful vegetables and greens from the garden, sitting at the table experiencing textures and flavors. In these moments, I relax into the present, full and aware of sensation. At the same time, I begin imagining the next meal or sauerkraut project.

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It is now time to start on dinner and see what awaits in the kitchen. I wish you all nourishment of body, heart, mind, and spirit.

-Teagan

 

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Memories from High School Marine Biology

Guest blog post by Teaching Assistant Ari Katz

Living here for two months, it’s easy to get lost in routine. Wake up at 6:45. Morning meeting at 7:30. Breakfast at 8:00. And so it goes. Once the novelty of living on an island dissipated, simple reminders to take my gaze off the ground became invaluable. So, I’d like to give a HUGE thank you to High School Marine Biology for pushing me to live in a constant state of wonderment. You gifted me fresh eyes and whole lot of fun times. As I’ve reflected on the week, I think the most meaningful thing I can share are the small moments where I was reminded to look up. So, with that, here’s my highlight reel:

Sunday: First days are always awkward. No matter how you try to spin it, throwing together a group of people who are mostly unfamiliar with each other is a recipe for drawn out silences and unsolicited staring contests. Most of the first day was very structured which didn’t allow for too much down time, but as soon as we sat down for our first nightly meeting it very quickly became quiet. Alex (my co-educator) was grabbing something from the office, so I had time to kill before the meeting started. My go-to in these situations is to ask for jokes or puns, which either turns out great or evokes an even more uncomfortable silence. Without hesitation hands shot up and eyes brightened (thank goodness) and nightly pun time was born. For a solid half hour, students took turns sharing puns and getting stumped. I think this was the moment the group really meshed together, and I remember sitting there grateful for the laughter and excited for the days (and puns) to come.

Monday: We tasked the students with creating their own research questions for three days of intertidal exploration. This was my first time doing research with a group, and I was pretty curious about what the students would be curious about. One project that really stuck out to me was looking at how long it took periwinkles to re-attach to rocks. I expected questions about biodiversity, about how species population varies with substrate, and while those are all valid and interesting, the fact that the students took something they were doing for fun – plucking periwinkle off rocks – and turned it into a research question is pretty admirable. Even the most mundane can still hold mysteries to uncover.

 Students doing intertidal zone research.

Students doing intertidal zone research.

Tuesday: Today was a good day, I promise!

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 I told you Tuesday was fun! We went lobstering and rowing in the afternoon.

I told you Tuesday was fun! We went lobstering and rowing in the afternoon.

Wednesday: Puddin’ time! Today we brought marine biology into the kitchen and made Irish Moss pudding. I know teenage me would have been pretty grossed out at the thought of eating seaweed pudding, so the fact that everyone was so excited to try it was awesome in and of itself. We listened to some tunes and had a mini dance party in the kitchen while cooking, and after 20 minutes of double boiling milk and seaweed and a whole lot of straining, it turned out great! We had our pudding for dessert after dinner along with donuts courtesy of Joel. A fantastic food day.

Thursday: The raft challenge is a Hurricane Island classic. Groups are split up into teams and are given a few giant plastic barrels, some wooden planks, and a handful of ropes with the goal of building a raft that will carry their team from one end of the Ice Pond and back. I’ve experienced a 50/50 success rate; one group makes a totally sturdy raft, and the other group makes a raft that falls apart the second it touches water. As I expected, HSMB was 50/50, but the miraculous thing was that nobody gave up. The team with the less sturdy raft just kept on going, testing out new ideas, trying new designs, all while the other team was chartering teammates back and forth right next to them. If that’s not optimism I don’t know what is. (For the record, their raft never did get across the Ice Pond, but they were offered rides from the other team, and some just decided to swim.)

 The raft challenge juxtaposition.

The raft challenge juxtaposition.

Friday: Today’s lesson was on climate justice, and we began by playing a couple games that involved communication (or lack thereof). One of these games is called the No Rules Game. The rules are pretty simple: one student gets sent out of the room while the rest of the students think up a task for that student to perform once they come back. The student then figures out the task by walking around the room and pointing to objects or moving in a certain direction, and the rest of the students give positive or negative affirmations (“mhm” or “uh uh” were popular ones) in response. No words allowed! As you can imagine, the game devolves into laughter pretty quickly. We decided to begin with easy tasks. The first student had to put an empty ketchup jar on her head. The next had to grab an eye lens and look at someone through it. The next had to flip over some stools and lay on them. Then the tasks got more complicated. One student had to go up to the whiteboard and draw a caricature of Alex while also getting him to cry on command (he’s pretty proud of this skill). For the final task, the group came up with a three-pronged challenge: have the student put a pair of rain boots on his hands, grab a butterfly net from the wall, and go outside and pick up his water bottle that had been placed outside with the net, with the boots still on their hands. There were a few of us in tears from laughing so much. Picture a group of 13 people following a student with boots on his hands and a butterfly net in between outside while chanting “mhm!” on repeat. Not your average climate justice lesson, I’d imagine.

 Me crying, boots on hands, a butterfly net, and Alex on the whiteboard.

Me crying, boots on hands, a butterfly net, and Alex on the whiteboard.

Saturday: It was our last day, and Alex wanted to end the week with a bang. This entailed letting the students cover him in lobsters. The picture does this justice more than I can with words.

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Women of the Sea Students Dive in to Research Projects on Hurricane Island

Guest blog post by Science Educator Allison Hren

For two weeks, the Women of the Sea participants have been collecting data about the intertidal zone on Hurricane Island, and on July 28th, they presented their research at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Divided into two groups (splitting time between Hurricane Island and aboard a schooner), they developed a research question and hypothesis. 

 Desiree shares her research investigating green crab populations on different substrates in the intertidal.

Desiree shares her research investigating green crab populations on different substrates in the intertidal.

 Audra and Emma going through scallop spat bags for their research on species diversity within them

Audra and Emma going through scallop spat bags for their research on species diversity within them

In-between data collection and analysis, the students spent time learning about the ecology of the ocean around them. They went lobstering and learned about Hurricane Island’s scallop aquaculture. From rock climbing to hiking, the students learned a great deal about our island ecosystem. We even got to check out what was on the sea floor, when we snorkeled together!

 Coming back from a successful morning spent lobstering!

Coming back from a successful morning spent lobstering!

 Women of the Sea, right after snorkeling, doing a diving sign, letting us know they are "O.K."'

Women of the Sea, right after snorkeling, doing a diving sign, letting us know they are "O.K."'

On the Vela (captained and owned by Havilah Hawkins), the students worked together to help steer and direct the boat, as well as taking part in boat chores, singing on the deck and watching the stars.

 The first half of the group to sail aboard the Vela, enjoying a beautiful sunset.

The first half of the group to sail aboard the Vela, enjoying a beautiful sunset.

Watching the students grow as young scientists was inspiring! In a relatively short period of time they brought their own skills to the table and helped each other produce incredibly well done research that was clearly presented. We had so much fun with the Women of the Sea, and hope they bring their incredible enthusiasm for the natural world everywhere they go!

 Heading out to collect data for their research projects. At this point they were experts. :)

Heading out to collect data for their research projects. At this point they were experts. :)

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Connecting to Hurricane via Nature Journals

Guest blog post by Science Educator Emily Buckner

It was a foggy week for the twelve students who came to Hurricane for the Middle School Island Ecology program; but without the ability to see past our own shoreline came the opportunity to truly focus in on this unique place. The week’s main goal was to become better naturalists, individuals who were observant, curious about the world around them, and asking thoughtful questions. One of the main ways we cultivated these skills was by creating and utilizing nature journals, a space where we could record our own thoughts, observations and learning, in the style that best suited our thought process, such as writing, drawing, poetry, lists, etc. (and often a combination of several of those things).

 Finding something special in the intertidal zone.

Finding something special in the intertidal zone.

Nature journaling is a great way to develop a sense of place and connection to nature. Forcing you to slow down and really notice your surroundings, journaling can help you track environmental and seasonal changes and allow you to start making connections and see patterns. Thinking about how things are connected is the basis of ecology and environmental stewardship and the ability to recognize patterns is an essential component to being a scientist, making the practice of nature journaling a truly interdisciplinary skill. We were thrilled to see all these things play out over the course of the week with such a wonderful group of middle schoolers.

 Last day on Hurricane!

Last day on Hurricane!

By the end of the program each students’ journal was full of notes, drawings, pressed flowers and leaves, in addition to goals for how to live a more sustainable lifestyle, a daily ‘rose, bud, thorn’, and some ideas for future research projects they would like to do on Hurricane. In addition to the journals, the group also created a visual representation of their experience on the island, putting their observations and memories into drawings and placing them on a physical map of Hurricane. This map was proudly presented to the rest of the island community and now sits in the galley as one more example of how people who visit this place can truly make it their own.

 Nature journals and group map on display!

Nature journals and group map on display!

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