Island Updates


Fryeburg Academy

Fryeburg Academy's AP Environmental Science class joined us for a fast-paced 24-hour visit! Upon arrival, the students explored Hurricane’s historical roots and sustainable systems. They then hopped on one of our boats to learn how to haul lobster traps with Oakley. The rest of the afternoon was spent with Chloe and Jacque, hiking and learning about basic botany and phenology (the study of seasonal change) in preparation for the development of a phenology focused research project.

After a tasty, fresh-caught lobster dinner and watching the nearly full moon rise over Greens Island, we headed to the lab where the students developed their research question and methods.  The students were interested in investigating if paper birch trees on the south end were further along in their phenophase (an observable stage or phase in the annual life cycle of a plant) than paper birch on the east side of the island. Early the next morning, the students were back in the lab narrowing down a procedure and then they headed out into the field to collect their data.

They split into two groups – one headed to the south end and one to the east side of the island.  Each group walked along a 60m transect. In order to randomly select paper birch trees, the students would stop every 15m along the transect and then collect data on the nearest paper birch to that stopping point.  At each tree, students quantified the color of leaves on a select number of branches as well as other data about that tree including height, circumference, and available sunlight.

Back in the lab, each group compiled their data and spent time analyzing the results, which were then presented to the Hurricane Island staff. Even in such a short amount of time, students were able to collect enough data to conclude that paper birch on the eastern side of the island were further along in their phenophase than paper birch on the south side of island.  We had a great time with the Fryeburg students and their instructor and we hope they enjoyed their whirlwind trip of Hurricane as well!

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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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