Students from Islesboro Central School's 9th/10th grade Environmental Science class came out to Hurricane on September 11-13, 2014 to learn about Hurricane Island's phenology monitoring efforts, which are part of the USA National Phenology Network (NPN). Phenology refers to key seasonal changes in plants and animals from year to year—such as flowering, fruiting, falling leaves, and bird migration—especially their timing and relationship with weather and climate.
Hurricane Island has been monitoring three different sites around the island this season, collecting data on a weekly basis that will serve as a local dataset for us to observe the impacts of global climate change on the seasonality, migration, and life history of plants and animals on Hurricane Island. As we develop our phenology sites, we are also hoping to work with more Maine schools to create a small phenology monitoring network where students can start to ask their peers from other schools for their data to address questions about microclimates and seasonal differences across Maine.
While Islesboro students were out on Hurricane, they focused on improving their botanical identification skills and learning the basics of phenology monitoring. Students paired up and were each in charge of finding and presenting on Maine trees that are listed in the NPN, taking time to highlight observations that they made about features that would help their peers be able to positively identify species in the field. We spent part of the last day on a long "plant-off," where students competed to be able to identify the plants they had just learned as they were pointed out during a hike around the island. By the end of their time on Hurricane, students were comfortably able to distinguish between different species of spruce trees, aspen, and speckled alder. Our education staff will go out to Islesboro this spring to help them set up their own phenology monitoring sites! Stay tuned for how this project develops!
Here is a student quote from the trip:
"The following are reasons why our trip to Hurricane Island was awesome: First of all, we got to be outside, which was, literally, a breath of fresh air. I am interested in plants, their uses, and learning how to identify them, and we certainly did quite a bit of that - outside! I enjoyed that part a lot. I learned about the difference between shrubbery and trees, and between different types of pines, as well as how to identify wildflowers and vines...and more! So that was cool. Another thing that I really enjoyed doing during that trip was splitting into groups and taking the plant identification form things, and getting to learn about a specific plant in front of us, and draw conclusions about it.
I [also] hung out with people that I didn't normally hang out with who weren't in my grade level, and laughed a lot, which was fun! I also spent more time than usual with other people in my class that I don't usually hang out with, and realized that they can also be pretty fun to be around. Also, that one moment where all the freshmen decided to lie down on that flat rock, look up at the night sky, and also actually be quiet for a series of minutes was not only the nicest, most peaceful moment ever, but it was also the most connected I feel we have ever been to each other. All in all, I learned a lot and had fun."