Island Updates


7th Grade Vinalhaven Class Visit

We were pleased to host the 7th grade class from Vinalhaven for their end of year field trip for the second year in a row. The trip started out with a guided history hike around the island, learning about the quarrying community that resided on Hurricane over a century ago. It was fun for the students to learn about the history of an island that is so close to where they call home, and realize how Hurricane’s history has impacted that of Vinalhaven. They also got a chance to try to use old chisels and carving tools.

After snack the students learned more about our sustainable campus and how Hurricane operates completely off the grid. Their night on the island was spent singing campfire songs and roasting s’mores over our new campfire pit.

The next morning we focused on environmental ethics and the 7 Leave No Trace principles. Students got a chance to try out some activities based on each principle, as well as made up their own skits demonstrating 3 of the principles. It wouldn’t be a trip to Hurricane without a hike so before lunch Chloe took the group on a long walk around the perimeter of the island, specifically focusing on the plants that line the trails as well as the birds that live on and around Hurricane. We wrapped up their time on the island with a lively game of Hurricane trivia!

This trip was generously funded by the Vinalhaven Land Trust, we hope to continue to host the 7th grade Vinalhaven class for their end of the year trip for years to come! 

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Ashwood Waldorf School

Looking at lichens in the lab with Alice before the lichen hike

Enjoying the intertidal on Two-Bush Island

The Ashwood Waldorf School from Rockport, Maine joined us on Hurricane for two days of island exploration. For the Botany focus of this program Alice took them on a walk around the island to find and identify the three main categories lichens: crustose, foliose, and fruticose. Another hike focused on the wild edible plants on the island, as well as what plants are flowering out during this stage of spring. Students also got a chance to explore the intertidal area between Hurricane and Two Bush Island. They found lots of fun and interesting intertidal creatures, and learned how kelp survives as a marine plant.

The last day was spent rock climbing. Students learned about different types of climbing gear, how to boulder on granite blocks that were cut from the main face over a century ago, and how to belay and support one another while climbing. Everyone completed their own successful climbs and enjoyed being able to reach the top and enjoy the view out over the open ocean.

One of the best parts of this program was having Ashwood’s program overlap with Nobleboro Middle School. While it can be a dance for us instructors of who is teaching what to who, when and where, it’s great to see us all gathered together at meal times, sharing our island stories from the day!

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Islesboro Central School

The Environmental Science class

The Environmental Science class

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!

Students work on field ID to prepare for phenology monitoring.

Students work on field ID to prepare for phenology monitoring.

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."

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Botany ISLE 2014

We had a fantastic 10 days with students who came from out to Hurricane from as far as New York City to learn about the wildflowers, trees, vines, and shrubs on Hurricane Island. The week started off by looking at Hurricane’s gardens and the difference between domestic and wild edible plants. Students learned about soil health and compost, how to manage a straw bale garden, and the difference between linear and sustainable farming and gardening practices. They also learned how crop rotation can keep plant pests at bay as well as contribute to the overall health of a garden.

Students key into leaf characteristics to help identify the difference between quaking and big-tooth aspen trees.

Students key into leaf characteristics to help identify the difference between quaking and big-tooth aspen trees.

We also challenged students to plan out the meadow garden plot for next years garden. They did a fantastic job and adhered to crop rotation practices as well as suggested a few new plants that we should try to grow. Students took an afternoon to get their hands dirty in our gardens and helped turn over the adjacent plot to the meadow garden to expand it for next year. They also planted seedlings in new rows and put fresh compost in our flower garden. This focus of farming and gardening during the beginning of the Botany program led to a field trip to Turner Farm on North Haven Island, where they were able to explore and learn about what a large scale sustainable farm looks like.

After domestic plants we moved on to wild edibles and students learned to identify and forage for sorrel, cattails, beach peas, orach, elderberry flowers, and raspberries, which they concocted into a Hurricane sourced meal, which was also supplemented by the vegetables and herbs grown in our gardens.

Each morning featured a different category of plant and students learned all the vocabulary and identification techniques to properly key out the most common wild flowers, trees, and ferns on Hurricane.

As a fun final project students collaborated to create a botany themed rap song, which featured some of their favorite plants that they learned about over their ten-day stay.   

Register for our 2015 Botany ISLE program here! 

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