Island Updates

A week of 'stoke'

Guest blog post by Science Educator Josh Adrian

Stoke: to poke, stir up, and feed (a fire)

Learning about lobstering the hands-on way

When thinking about the students that came to the High School Sustainability program we recently offered, I’m struck by the level of stoke that each one brought.  It was a busy week.  A really busy week. Through the whole thing they stuck with it, and so enthusiastically too!  The definition of stoke is to poke, stir up, and feed (a fire).  Looking at the fire as our enthusiasm for sustainability, the stoke level was high.  Everyone came with ideas and energy, ready to share and to learn.  They pushed each other, Michelle and I as well!

One of the rain barrel groups posing at their install locale

Sunday was all about getting acquainted with the island and becoming familiar with it’s sustainable systems. From there, the students accomplished an outrageous amount through the week!  On Monday we partnered with Rozalia Project to clean marine debris from a beach on Greens Island, sussed out some ideas for reducing marine debris, and prototyped those ideas with a film crew, 3D printer, and plenty of staff to help develop ideas.  Tuesday we designed and built two rain barrels that we installed, and in the afternoon learned about how solar energy and photovoltaic systems work.  Wednesday saw the realization of the two photovoltaic systems the students designed, and we installed them in the cabins.  That morning we had a town hall style debate over what sort of sustainable energy our pretend island’s population needed to continue growing.  By Thursday we were ready for a little break…  …so we went rock climbing.  After rock climbing, we used the afternoon to learn about sustainable design and discussed design options for a new field station on the island that would have the least environmental impact.  And finally, Friday was sustainable food day!  Between foraging to make naturally dyed bandanas, lobstering, learning about Maine fisheries, and harvesting wild edibles to cook a meal for everyone, the students had all sorts of ways to engage with island food sustainability! Saturday was no easy day either! We went rowing, swimming, and circled up to share the ways we would take what we learned into our communities and world.

So.  Like I said.  A really busy week.

I’m exhausted just from typing that all out and reading it.


These students blew me away at how they kept at it all week!  From the first conversations about sustainability to the final circle on Saturday morning, every one of them brought so much individual enthusiasm with them.  They all came from such different places, and used everything they knew about sustainability and had learned about in the past to teach each other, and to fuel what they learned in the days here.

 Part of our crew standing next to their photovoltaic install

At any given point I would not have blamed them at all if they had just flopped on the ground and hollered “JOSH AND MICHELLE, YOU GUYS GOTTA SLOW DOWN.”  But they kept at it, and they accomplished so much this week!  We now have two beautiful rain barrels on two of the outhouses, and two of the visitor cabins are electrified with lights and a charging station powered by the solar energy they installed!

Adding final touches to the dishes cooked by the students Friday night

To learn with such an invigorating bunch of young adults was a spectacular way to finish off my open enrollment programming for the summer.  The state of our planet with regard to sustainability is a frustrating one to confront at times, but with all the ideas and conversations that happened during our week, I’m feeling pretty good about the situation.  Not only did we share a lot of previous knowledge with each other, and learn about new ideas and concepts together, but every student finished off the week with some excellent thoughts about taking what they learned and implementing it on an individual level, a community level, and a national/international level.  I challenged the students to go beyond just having a week of thinking about sustainability, and carrying the knowledge they had gained forwards.  It’s so important to share what we learn, not just through our individual actions, but to grow community through our knowledge.  These students all responded to the challenge and came up with fantastic ways to spread ideas and actionable plans revolving around composting, photovoltaic systems, rain barrels, localizing food, and other sustainable practices.  Hearing them share out those ideas was epic.  The stoke was real the week of High School Sustainability.  Thanks guys, what an amazing seven days.

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