Having moved back to Maine full-time in August, one would think I might finally feel settled here in Rockland and little less like a gypsy than I normally do…not with all of the events we attended this Fall! The past few months have been full of travel – making it to 12 different events in 4 different states. We are growing as a staff, giving us more opportunity to spread the Hurricane message to wider audiences and the possibility of sharing the Hurricane experience with more and more students, teachers, and visitors.
In September, we stuck to our home turf of Maine. Being a water bug myself, I was a bit out of my element at the Maine State Museum’s Bug Maine-ia, surrounded by tarantulas, termites, and honey bees. But the action never stopped, with 1727 people in just a 4-hour time span stopping by to learn about how termites communicate! Shockingly, many of the termites made it out alive. Our Program Manager, Josie Gates, and one of our Science Educators, Chloe Tremper, took Hurricane to the Midcoast Mini Maker’s Faire. Along with the Knox-Lincoln Conservation Fair, we were allowed to spread our artistic wings a little and get creative with visitors as we shared solar prints and algae presses with over 300 students. At the Common Ground Fair we ate delicious food and spent too much money (I ALMOST bought a bunny), and made new and diverse connections with other organizations, students, families, and colleges. Amazing how much Maine had going on for education in just that one month!
October didn’t slow down as we were back at the Museum for their Earth Science Day. Our fabulous Education Director, Dr. Jennifer Page, was inundated while teaching students about ocean circulation and how the density of water affects buoyancy in boats! That floated a lot of kids boats (yes that pun was intentional... yes I know it was bad). The Maine Science Teacher’s Association meeting was a highlight, with a mix of teachers who have brought students before and those who learned of us for the first time. So many workshops and discussions about teaching science…Maine teachers are doing amazing things! I traveled down to New Bedford, MA, for the New England Ocean Science Education Collaborative (NEOSEC) quarterly meeting at Buttonwood Park Zoo. NEOSEC is a collaboration of over 40 institutions from across New England with the mission “to leverage New England’s extraordinary assets, to engage the public in understanding the vital connections between people and the ocean.” It’s like a meeting of the minds for people who love the ocean and want to share it with others; awesome! Again, Jenn represented us at the annual Poptech conference in Rockland with Sam and the Steel House running a workshop on our aquaculture and submersible projects. Jenn and Sam are still running around the office with their fancy french-press, coffee mug schwag!
I know, you’re already overwhelmed with the amount of outreach we’ve been doing, but November was really crazy. I attended the Coalition for Essential Schools annual meeting in Portland. This event brings together schools and organizations from all over the country, even some international schools, to share ideas about education practices and methods for creating educational communities to equip students to become powerful and informed citizens. The next stop on the tour took me to New Hampshire for the New England Environmental Education Alliance (NEEEA) Climate of Change Conference. Not only is our climate changing, but the way we teach about it is also evolving as a result of changing education, communication and engagement in such issues. Inspiring people doing inspiring things in this time of flux! This conference. Sam and Josie also connected with EMS crews from along the coast of Maine at the 35th annual Atlantic Partners EMS seminar. Read Josie’s blog about it here. Finally, Jenn and I road-tripped all the way down to the regional National Science Teachers Association meeting in Philadelphia, PA. The little coastal country mice went to the big city, ate some cheesesteaks, and had a blast! Even though a trip to Hurricane means a 9-hour car drive, Philadelphia teachers were unbelievably enthusiastic about the hands-on, experiential, get-dirty type of educational science experiences we offer on Hurricane and we hope to see some of them on the Island in 2016.
Looking back, the past few months were an insanely busy time. We put a lot of miles on our cars, met a lot of people, shared a lot of great ideas, made new connections, ate some good pretzels, and almost purchased some animals. In all of the unsettled running around, the inspiration and the constant was Hurricane Island. Even far from it’s shores and lapping waves, people feel the energy that it instills in us. They want to come and do the science, learn the sustainability, and walk away with the leadership to change their world. So, in 2016, we’ll continue to travel, to share, to connect, and to expand the Hurricane Island community!