Island Updates


Teaching Leave No Trace (LNT) on Hurricane

Post by Jacque Rosa, Education Intern

A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.
— Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

I read this quote to a group of middle school students as we sat atop the High Cliffs, overlooking the open ocean. Leopold’s words perfectly summed up the past few days we spent learning about and practicing Leave No Trace (LNT), a program that promotes the sustainable use of the natural world through a set of environmental ethics and guidelines. These students were participating in a two-week coastal Maine trip led by Overland, an organization that runs expedition based summer trips for 4th- 12th graders. Their coastal Maine trip includes backpacking in the White Mountains, hiking Mt. Katahdin, sea kayaking, and spending three days on Hurricane Island. During their time here, we explored all seven principles of LNT that aim to guide individuals to leave as little impact as possible in the wilderness. The Leave No Trace educational program began in the early 1990’s, through a collaboration of the U.S Forest Service, the National Outdoor Leadership Service (NOLS), and the Bureau of Land Management.

Thumbs up for outhouses!

Today, the LNT program is taught around the world with the following core principles:

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Others

These principles can be applied to any outdoor activity, from rock climbing and kayaking, to hunting and fishing. If you are planning a visit to Hurricane, or are already enrolled in one of our programs, here are ways you can practice LNT on the island:

1.    Be Prepared For a Day on the Island: Check the weather report before coming out to Hurricane and dress appropriately. Bring layers, water, and food if you are planning to be on the island all day. Talk to a staff member or let someone know where you are hiking on the island and when you will be back, as cell service does not reach beyond our main building.

2.     Stay on the Marked Trails: While our trails can often be muddy, it is crucial to stay on existing trails and trek through any puddles or mud. Creating social trails (trails that are convenient or avoid muddy areas) can erode existing vegetation.

Overlander’s organize a search line to pick up micro-trash at their campsite on departure day. 

3.     Avoid micro-trash: Keep track of all tiny pieces of trash (like the corners of wrappers) and secure them in your pockets or pack. Help keep Hurricane Island beautiful by picking up any trash (including marine debris), even if it is not yours.

4.     Preserve the Past: Artifacts from the quarry are scattered around the island, offering a glimpse into Hurricane’s rich history as a booming quarry town from 1845-1914. Feel free to observe and take pictures of artifacts, but leave any objects you see as you found them in order to preserve the past and the stories they tell.

5.     Keep Our Water Source Safe: Because the quarry acts as our fresh water source, please refrain from swimming in or polluting the quarry. Utilize our composting toilets that are placed around the island to do your business, instead of using the “facili-trees.”

6.     Observe Wildlife From a Distance: Hurricane Island is home to a variety of wildlife including birds, snakes, frogs, deer, raccoon, and meadow voles. Seals and other marine invertebrates can also be spotted along our coastlines. Bring binoculars on your hike to get a closer look, while still keeping a safe distance. Bring drawing or painting materials to record things you see without taking them with you. Please don’t feed any wildlife, as animals will start to rely on human food and become habituated to human presence.

7.     Sharing is Caring: During your time here, please be mindful of other visitors and respect their outdoor experience. Let the sounds of nature prevail as you explore the island and practice trail etiquette, such as stepping aside to let someone pass and keeping pets on a leash.

We encourage everyone to practice these principles on Hurricane Island, and wherever your travels take you. For more information about Leave No Trace, visit their website here

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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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LNT collaborative programs with Overland

This summer The Hurricane Island Center For Science and Leadership collaborated with Overland to host six separate groups as a stop-over on their Maine Coast Leadership expeditions. The goal for their time on Hurricane was to become certified Leave No Trace trainers. 

To become certified trainers students had to pick one of the seven LNT principles and make a creative presentation on that principle that they then could teach to the rest of the group. This method of training helped students practice public speaking and leadership as they taught their group in an interactive lesson. Several of the Overland students got very creative with their LNT activities. Some highlights included an LNT game show, which was a Jeopardy game created by students that divided categories built around one of the priciples. Some students led the whole group on a hike to find proper pristine camping areas, which had to be 200 feet from water and on a proper camping surface.

Students enjoy some marshmallows cooked on using the mound fire technique.

Students enjoy some marshmallows cooked on using the mound fire technique.

A favorite principle among all groups was “Minimize Campfire Impact.” During this lesson kids got the chance to learn how to make a proper campfire that has no impact on the environment. This required students putting a tarp on the ground and covering it with six inches of dirt. They then found sticks that were already dead, down, and smaller than their wrists, as well as some already down birch bark, which is a great natural fire starter. After they started their fire with their collected sticks and bark we had time to roast and enjoy s’mores. When the fire had completely burned out students were able to lift the tarp and distribute the soil and ash evenly across the ground. The earth underneath the tarp doesn’t even get warm!

Another favorite principle for students to teach was dispose of waste properly. Some kids showed the proper technique for catching food particles in gray water, and how to disperse water (and toothpaste) evenly over a landscape rather than pour it on the ground all in one spot. Others showed the technique for disposing of human waste properly, specifically by acting out the “8 D’s of Dumping”: Desire, Distance, Dig, Drop, Dump, Disguise, Disinfect, and most importantly, Dance.

We thoroughly enjoyed welcoming over 60 Overland students to Hurricane this summer, as well as their amazing leaders Abby Conyers, Fischer Hazen, Maggie Hughes, and Jeremiah Firman. We hope to welcome Overland back next year! 

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Vinalhaven Land Trust

Students try their hand at carving granite

Students try their hand at carving granite

In mid June seventh grade students from Vinalhaven sponsored by the Vinalhaven Land Trust came out to Hurricane for a two-day exploration of the island and its history. Educators Alice Anderson, Josie Gates, and Oakley Jackson led students in a history hike around the island, talking about different important historical spots and helping students create a picture of what quarrying looked like on Hurricane over a century ago. Despite Hurricane’s close proximity to Vinalhaven, only one student had visited the island before, but several had family members who had lived and quarried on Hurricane.

The evening on island was filled with learning about sustainable energy and how Hurricane strives to operate as its own sustainable island community. Being from Vinalhaven the students already had great insight as to the efforts, triumphs, and struggles it takes to live on a small island in Maine. Students also participated in leadership activities and games, and had possibly the best strategy the Hurricane staff has ever seen to complete the Helium Stick challenge. They executed great communication and teamwork!

VH students sit in at the foundation of the old catholic church and make observations and educated guesses about what else might have been in this area during the quarry era

VH students sit in at the foundation of the old catholic church and make observations and educated guesses about what else might have been in this area during the quarry era

After a cozy night spent in our new bunkhouse, students spent the morning learning about Leave No Trace ethics and principles. They played a game identifying proper durable surfaces to camp and hike on, practiced digging a cat hole, and made up fun skits about different LNT principles to act out for their classmates. After lunch they played a game of Island Jeopardy, which put them to the test to remember facts and information that they had learned during their time on Hurricane. They all did a great job! Thanks for joining us on Hurricane Vinalhaven seventh graders; it’s always a joy to host other islanders. Happy summer vacation!

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