Island Updates

Staff Updates

Organization of Biological Field Stations Meeting

Meeting participants take time to explore the North Pole Basin with Ian Bicknell, RMBL Director

Meeting participants take time to explore the North Pole Basin with Ian Bicknell, RMBL Director

At the end of September, I was fortunate enough to spend a week at the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, CO, attending the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS) Annual Meeting. OBFS is a network that supports over 300 field stations around the world with the mission “to help member stations increase their effectiveness in supporting critical research, education, and outreach programs. We pursue this goal in a manner that maximizes diversity, inclusiveness, sustainability, and transparency.” Individuals are able to trouble shoot and problem solve by accessing the wealth of knowledge contained in this network and the annual meeting provides the opportunity for face-to-face interactions, which leads to collaborations and partnerships. I traveled to the meeting with Laura Sewall, Director of the Bates Morse Mountain Conservation Area and Coastal Center at Shortridge, and my co-PI on the NSF Field Station and Marine Laboratory planning grant. We used the meeting as a venue to gather ideas and make connections to further formalize the network of Gulf of Maine field stations, marine labs, and larger research institutions.

I attended a session on how to develop programs with community colleges to increase field science opportunities to those who may not otherwise have access - Hurricane would be a great venue! Other sessions offered ideas on fundraising events and efforts to supplement operating revenue to keep a field station financially viable over time and establishing and maintaining long-term monitoring projects with the aim of providing services to surrounding communities and the broader scientific community.

Miles O’Brien, a freelance journalist and science correspondent for the PBS News Hour, and Mark Ruffalo, an actor and environmental activist who started Water Defense, connected to the meeting through Skype to speak to the entire group. They spoke about their experiences communicating science to the public and the dire need for increasing science literacy. They emphasized the importance of field stations as providing access to nature and in understanding our world through the scientific process.  

Overall, it was an incredible week in a beautiful place and I am reenergized to continue the work to create field science opportunities for middle and high school students through career scientists on Hurricane Island.

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On the Right Trail

Post by Chloe Tremper, Science Educator

Have you ever gotten lost on Hurricane’s trails? We hope not, but now it will be even harder to do so as we have recently redone our entire trail system! Don’t worry, the same old trails are still there – they’re just cleaned up and clearly marked with different color blazes.  This project has been a long time coming and was initiated earlier this summer by Olivia, one of our science education interns.  Olivia has worked on many trail crews in the past and upon her arrival noticed that Hurricane’s trail system could use a little sprucing up.

Olivia and I started this venture together by purchasing the paint and other supplies needed and began with the coastal trail since it is one of Hurricane’s most popular trails.  The coastal trail is now marked with green blazes and a few cairns where there weren’t many trees. 

Sadly, life on Hurricane got busy and by the time we were ready to carry on with trail marking Olivia had to head back to Vermont to finish up her senior year at UVM. Since her departure though, I have successfully marked all of our trails with a few helping hands of course – and sometimes without! Slocum’s trail is now marked with blue blazes, the high cliffs loop trail is blazed with red, the trail to sunset rock is a nice pastel orange, and the trail from the lab to the ice pond through the woods is yellow.  If you find yourself on a trail that has two blazes (one of the above colors and white) on the same tree- you’ve ended up on a connector trail!

In addition to trail blazes, you’ll also find some handy trail signs posted to point out trailheads off of the main roads.  All of these signs were either wood burned using magnifying glasses or painted by us.  On top of that, we have roped off areas that are either closed trails or not trails at all – we are hoping to start trail regeneration monitoring soon so please respect the rope!

Hurricane’s trails are ready for you so come visit us & go for a hike! Download our newest trail map here!

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Hopey's Heart Foundation AED Grant

We are pleased to have received a grant from The Hopey’s Heart Foundation AED Grant Program for an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) that is currently in place on Hurricane.

 Josie Gates, Oakley Jackson, Silas Rogers and Boomer.  Hurricane Island Safety Squad

The Hopey’s Heart Foundation was formed in memory of Tina Charles’ late aunt Maureen “Hopey” Vaz, who died of multiple organ failure in 2013.  Hopey was known for having a very giving heart and when her own heart failed it was a tragic loss to her family.  The Hopey’s Heart Foundation was founded to prevent Sudden Cardiac Arrest from claiming the lives of promising student athletes and it is committed to providing AEDs nationally for the prevention of heart and other injuries in student and amateur athletes through the provision of health education and medical equipment in schools, community and recreational centers. 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly 383,000 out of hospital SCA’s occurring annually. Having an AED close by, especially in a remote environment like Hurricane, can mean the difference between life and death for a victim of SCA. Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors. SCA is indiscriminate towards race, age & gender. With every minute that goes by, survival rates without AED and other medical intervention drop up to 10 percent. The American Heart Association has reported survival rates of 40-50% where AED programs have been successfully implemented.

We are committed to safety of our participants and the visitors who come to Hurricane Island and are extremely grateful to the Hopey’s Heart Foundation for providing us with this life saving resource that will be added to our rescue and medical equipment on the island. The majority of our staff has been trained in Wilderness First Aid, as Wilderness First Responders or as Wilderness EMT’s.  We hope to never have to use the AED, but are grateful to have it as a resource in the event of an unfortunate emergency.  

Thank you again to The Hopey’s Heart Foundation for providing this amazing and life saving opportunity.

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From the Farm-to-Table Kitchen

One of the most popular appetizers from this last Farm-to-Table dinner was beet "sliders," delicious bite-sized beet patties topped with a homemade pickled zucchini relish. Ladleah graciously shared the recipe with us, and we are passing it along to you to enjoy!

I love a good, juicy burger. Whether you are a vegetarian or a meat lover; this veggie burger will satisfy anyone. I prefer cooking these in a cast iron skillet with a bit of olive oil.  Use big dark red beets and sear well on each side. The recipe calls for basil or thyme but I love to use all different herbs depending on the season.  Also feel free to get creative and change up the cheeses!  Just hold to the egg, oats, beet ratio and you'll swear you are eating a medium rare beef burger. You can even make a bunch of patties at once and freeze on a sheet pan.  Once frozen put in pairs or individually wrapped in a ziplock and keep in the freezer for a fast meal. Adapted from Food52. Makes 6-8 good sized burgers.


  1. 3 cups grated beets (about 4-5 large beets)\
  2. 1 onion
  3. 2 garlic cloves
  4. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  7. 7 ounces goat cheese or feta or grated cheddar
  8. 1 handful fresh chopped basil or 1 tsp Thyme (fresh is better, dried okay)
  9. 1 generous pinch sea salt
  10. several grinds fresh black pepper
  11. olive oil for frying


  1. Peel and grate beets, onion, and garlic on a box grater or use a food processor with grater attachment.
  2. Place the grated vegetables in a large mixing bowl
  3. Add olive oil, eggs, and rolled oats  and mix well
  4. Add cheese, basil or thyme, salt, and pepper and mix well.
  5. Let all sit for 30 minutes so the oats can soak up the moisture and the mixture sets.  This step is very important for the patties to hold together.
  6. Shape a test patty.  If the mixture feels too loose add a 1/4 cup more oats, let sit.
  7. Form patties and sear in a hot, heavy pan (cast iron is best) or brush with olive oil and grill.

Vegan Adaptation

  1. substitute tofu for cheese
  2. use up to 1/2 cup water and let mixture soak for 1 hour  in the refrigerator to allow more time for the oats to hydrate.

We had a great time this season with the farm-to-table events and we look forward to having everyone out to the island again next year! Be sure to check out our 2016 Calendar for more details about upcoming events.

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Summer Flies

Post by Oakely Jackson, Program Instructor

We have been wrapped up in the bustle of summer for several months now. The peak of the season has been marked by a full harbor, a dock jam-packed with tenders and pleasure cruisers and the island alive with plants and programs.  As the so called “Mayor of Hurricane” (I am honored Bob) I have been keeping track of the comings and goings of the island and playing host to the masses, which have been as many as fifty people at times.  That many individuals can sure go through a lot of TP, water and Goldfish. We are kept busy raking the composting toilets flat, filling our beloved blue water jugs on Vinalhaven, and keeping enough vittles on the table.

Our dishes have been supplemented with greens and veggies from our gardens.  The straw bale garden is over-flowing with squash, cucumbers, broccoli and green tomatoes.  The berries are also in season and most guests leave the island with raspberry stained fingers.  We now have a hive of honey bees on the island and the multitude of wildflowers are constantly being plundered of their pollen. In order to provide the bees with a greater variety of options we put in a new flower garden between the flywheel and Sam’s cabin.  Although we have out-witted the deer (I have seen several does and a buck this summer) with our new and improved fencing, we opted to not fence the flowers and there has been a lot of nibbling going on… R.I.P. sunflowers.

Even with plenty of summer left, I am getting the sense that things are starting to wind down. With only a few summer programs to go and the interns leaving soon it is sad to admit that another season is coming to a close.  In the three years I have been on Hurricane, for the first time this summer it has felt like we truly have a functioning community with enough people to run the island and the type of team cohesion that gets you excited to go to morning meeting. A major role in any community is the cook, and Micah brought us all together in the galley, both with the production of food and the sharing of meals. Micah is a techno-crazed magician who can produce the most scrumptious food while never missing a beat. Micah is now off to another island, this time in the Bahamas, and we are left to wonder when the next time we will eat beans out of a pressure cooker will be. You will be missed dearly Bean King, go forth and prosper!

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First Impressions of Hurricane Island

Below are a few of our intern's first impressions of their new home and workplace for the summer, and the start of their adventures on Hurricane Island.

Bailey MoritzSpotting porpoises, checking lobster traps, hiking up an appetite for homemade bread, peacefully watching the sun set. What more could one ask out of their first few days on the job? Already we’ve experienced a range of weather conditions, from burning sun to driving rain to wind with a nod of affirmation to the islands name. With each turn of the clouds, a new side of Hurricane Island comes out. It makes me realize that no matter how many days I spend out here, I may never be able to experience every angle of its beauty. That’s a special thing and I’m so excited to be out here!

Walking to the galley the other evening, we could see the Farm to Table guests enjoying the waterfront, students from the WFR training program up on the rocks reenacting anaphylactic shock, and staff members unloading the truck from our campfire cookout. There are so many moving pieces, so much activity going on at once, a span of tasks tiny to daunting, and yet it seems to work in orchestra. Everyone moves about in a perfectly busy sort of sync. Things get done. Things get done together. And there is nothing more welcome that stepping up and doing things that need doing. I am already humbled by the knowledge that is present here amongst the other members of the island community. From bird calls to boating skills, I can tell I’m going to learn so much on a day to day basis. I’ve already got my eye on a handful of edible plants I never knew about. Here’s to a full and engaged summer!

Olivia LukacicGiddy nervousness was all I was feeling Monday morning as the interns gathered at the office in Rockland awaiting our boat ride out to the island. And what an amazing day to greet us-but even better than that is the community here that has already welcomed us new friends to the island.

Our whole time, out of the less than forty eight hours that we have been here, has been a wonderful introduction of learning the ropes of the island, gaining understanding of work flows, and watching in awe of how everyone helps out and is constantly evolving in their role.

I am on Hurricane this summer to be an educator and yet I am thrilled by how much I am going to learn and grow myself. On the first day on the island, Oakley took a group of us out on one of the boats to check his recreational lobster traps. Not only was it fun and beautiful but I learned a bunch about boating and the local lobstering community. For example, you can determine the gender of a lobster by looking at a set of swimmerettes on the underside near all the legs by whether they are more delicate and smaller or more robust. Also I used a tool to see if the lobster was large enough to keep! If they are not big enough we tossed them back into the water and sometimes when their claws are up over their heads they look like superman descending into the depths.

We have walked some of the many beautiful trails to look at the variety of ecosystems and see the parts of the island as well as check out the sustainable infrastructure that helps us run off the grid. I think my favorite place as of now is looking out to Two Bush Island since it is a curious island that can be accessed by foot during low tide. I hope to explore it more soon!

Jacque Rosa- It’s day two on Hurricane Island, and it has been another jam-packed day for us interns. Starting a new job is always a whirlwind of names, policies, and duties, but so far it has been nothing but fun.

I moved from Catalina Island (off the coast of Los Angeles), to this one (off the coast of Rockland, Maine). I’m not sure I could get any further across the country if I tried.  Although I’m accustomed to an island lifestyle, life on Hurricane is still full of new experiences, and I am welcoming each one with open arms. This island is a mix of old and new: historic buildings with recent additions, old traditions with a fresh twist, and old timers showing new hires the ropes. To date, all my previous internships and jobs have been in organizations that were quite established, and in some cases, they were quite large too. It is exhilarating to be part of a program that is relatively new and still growing. I am seeing the inner workings of a non-profit organization, from networking and logistics, to lesson plans and program development. I am eager to contribute and help this community grow as the summer goes by.

So far we have explored the island quite a bit. We hiked the perimeter trail and visited the two highest points on the island. While the views from the High Cliffs are gorgeous and the forests offer a huge variety of plants, flowers, and birds, I am especially excited to start digging into the intertidal. Exploring marine habitats are always full of surprises. Under any rock or piece of algae could be an opportunity to catch a glimpse into underwater life.

There seems to be so much to learn here from each person I meet and each place I visit. It is great to be surrounded by people as eager and passionate to learn as I am. Our staff contains a unique mix of knowledge and experience. I have no doubt that together we are going to make wonderful things happen on Hurricane Island. 

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Executive Director Update

Dear Friend of Hurricane Island,

Just about five years ago - in the summer of 2010 - I sat with Peter Willauer aboard his J42, Eight Bells, in the Fox Islands Thorofare to design a new program for Hurricane Island. The Outward Bound school had left Hurricane in 2007, and POW wanted to give the island a new life.

We came up with the "Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership" to give kids the chance to learn science in meaningful, hands-on ways, shoulder to shoulder with working scientists, in an extraordinary natural environment. As a public school teacher and principal, I was well-aware of the challenges of providing engaging science instruction within the strictures and confines of the school day. To give students and teachers the opportunity to focus, learn and teach in a place like Hurricane seemed an ideal mission for the island. To address the critical national need for greater science literacy and more students pursuing science fields in college and as careers gave real purpose to our plan. And incorporating sustainable technologies, both out of necessity and for teaching purposes, enhanced the relevance of the off-grid setting of Hurricane Island.

We have run student programs on the island for three years now and are gaining traction - teachers, parents and kids are responding because they have a need for what we're offering. In 2015, we expect to serve more than 700 participants in island programs, with more than 2000 student-program days. They'll include:

Students from Epiphany School in Boston

  • Eastern Maine Skippers, a partnership of seven coastal Maine high schools
  • Epiphany School (Dorchester) and Cambridge School of Weston, Massachusetts
  • Proctor Academy, New Hampshire
  • Waynflete School, Gould Academy, Ashwood Waldorf School, Casco Bay High School for Expeditionary Learning, all in Maine
  • Northeast High School in Philadelphia Bowdoin, Colby, and the Universities of Maine and Vermont
  • ...and an array of our local private and public schools in midcoast Maine

All will be on Hurricane this summer to do engaging, meaningful, hands-on, in-the-field science and to become literate and proficient environmental leaders.

The most important evidence of our success comes from students themselves:

"Being on Hurricane Island and having the opportunity to enjoy nature was the most peaceful time I have ever known in my life... [It] was the first island I had ever been on and the most beautiful place I have ever been. It is almost mysterious; magic happens when you go through the program...From the moment I got on the boat to leave the island, with peace inside me, I knew I needed to come back. At Hurricane, we learned so much about ourselves and about other people. It was like stepping into a tidal pool, a different realm, where you discover so many small things with so much life in a quiet little space."

"The surprising thing is that once I got [to Hurricane], instead of feeling deprived I felt as though I had escaped...Being on Hurricane and free of distractions, I felt more alive; it opened me up to my surroundings...Hurricane Island itself is such a beautiful place, and although it's just an island, it has the ability to change the lives of those who are open to it. Once you look past the stunning beauty of the physical landscape, it has so much more to offer than just a nice view."

"The experience stays with me because I jumped into something completely unfamiliar. I learned on the fly, and managed to exercise then and there what I had learned. It gave me an awesome feeling to know that I was capable of finding my way without relying on modern technology. I felt so empowered and independent; I felt total elation."

This is what we're doing at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership. We are being the change we want to see in the world. As a primary objective, we are helping middle and high school teachers motivate, prepare, and excite a new generation of science learners and leaders by providing them with an unequalled place to learn and the opportunity to do real, hands-on scientific investigation and observation, with high quality programs, great leadership training, and direct support from career scientists.

That plan we came up with on Eight Bells five years ago is being realized in a remarkably short time. We greatly appreciate the support we've been given since then, and continue to need your interest and contributions. We intend to be the best experiential education and leadership program anywhere, on the most extraordinary island anywhere. I hope you will come out to Hurricane this summer to see for yourself what is being accomplished there.



Barney Hallowell
Executive Director

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Field Naturalist on Hurricane this Summer

We are excited to have a field naturalist joining us this year as part of the University of Vermont's Master's program. For his master’s project, Ben will be working on Hurricane Island for the 2015 summer season, completing an ecological inventory and asking some prodding questions about the role of fungi, lichens, and other small critters in the overall ecology of the island. 

Ben grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city that is somewhere between mountains and coast, small town and big city, old-timey and new-fangled. Although deeply attached to his homeland, Ben happily shipped off to the Pacific Northwest for undergraduate studies at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. In college, Ben took the notion of "broadening your horizons" as literally as possible, traveling to India, banding birds in Mexico and Oregon, and sailing the Oregon coast aboard a tall ship as part of his studies. After graduating with a BA in international studies and a BS in environmental science, Ben returned to Ahmedabad, India, where he interned at an arts-for-social-change academy for a year: writing grants, gaining some web design know-how, and occasionally walking on stilts or singing a few lines in Hindi, as the day required. Returning to Charlotte, Ben did some freelance graphic design, helped start a yoga studio, and worked on the front lines of the budding vegan culinary scene in town. 

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