Guest blog post by Science Educator Isabelle Holt
(MSIE) this year focused on the uses, contents, and creation of field guides. This allowed students to engage and create real materials that real scientists use. By the end of the week students had explored what makes and plant a plant and created separate field guides for both the many algae as well as lichen species that can be found here on Hurricane complete with title pages, dedications, works cited and indexes.
In order to get comfortable with using field guides before we attempted making our own we spent time in the intertidal zone exploring and identifying organisms as well as dip netting in the ice pond and identifying the freshwater macroinvertebrates that live there.
Our field guide was a crowd favorite, however, was the afternoon we spent using foraging for wild edibles and cooking dinner with what we found. Students were divided into teams and each team was given a copy of our Hurricane specific foraging field guide and sent on an adventure to find and sustainably harvest as many wild eatables as they could. The MSIE students were here at the height of the Hurricane wild raspberry, Rubus occidentalis, season and enough berries were collected to garnish the pudding that the MSIE students made for dessert using Irish Sea Moss, Chondrus crispus, a kind of alga, foraged from the intertidal zone.
The students also prepared Ulva lactuca, Sea Lettuce, chips by searing this alga species in the oven at a high temperature with olive oil, salt, and pepper. For a beverage we had a Rosa rugosa, beach rose, rose hip and Achillea millefolium, yarrow tea. In order to get even more greens into our meal students, used beach pea, Lathyrus japonicus, leaves and pods to create a wild and Hurricane grown green salad, which they garnished with the petals of the same Rosa rugosa bush, from which the rose hips were collected.
After creating their beautiful foraged meal students lead what is an honored tradition on Hurricane Island: the dinner circle. Traditionally at dinner circle whomever cooked the meal shares with the community what we will be eating for dinner and tonight it was MSIE’s turn. With their field guides in hand and their newfound ability to find and identify the eatable items in their environment, students presented each item that they had found and prepared with its common and Latin names, where on the island it could be found, what their identifying features are and how they had been prepared.
When it came time for the students to construct their own field guides to the lichens and algae found on Hurricane they produced their product with confidence, precision, care, and professionalism bolstered by their skills learned by foraging ahead for their dinner.