My Week at Hog Island

My Week at Hog Island

Kate Sydney -  2015-16 ASNV Hog Island Scholarship Recipient

This summer I had the privilege of joining educators from across the country in a week long professional development camp on Hog Island in Maine.  The week was filled with everything one would expect to find at a summer camp, hikes, story-telling, camp songs and so much more. 

Upon arrival, campers were greeted by camp staff and ferried about a quarter mile to Hog Island.  The island is a tranquil retreat with a number of bunkhouses and camp buildings.  After being shown our sleeping quarters and settling in the activities began.  Each day was filled with many choices of activities, tailored to fit a variety of needs.  The activities were led by scientists and experts naturalists. 

I participated in workshops on book-making, creating a naturalist’s sketchbook, exploration of pond life, plankton netting, the night sky, and exploring the flora and fauna of Hog Island.  In addition to these workshops, all campers were taught about the history of Hog Island during a cruise along the shore line, presented with inspirational talks about the restoration of the puffin colony on Eastern Egg Island and took a full day excursion to Eastern Egg Island to see the puffins!  During the excursion most people also saw a variety of seals and dolphins, along with a plethora of birds.  We saw osprey, merlin, common eiders, great cormorants and many more!

This week provided me with the perfect blend of down time for relaxing and some of the best professional development I have had!  This would be the perfect opportunity for any educator, from art teacher to science teacher.  I am grateful that I was provided with the opportunity and would highly recommend it to others!

The activity from Hog Island that has most impacted my work with students this year has been the introduction to the Bird Sleuth materials and curriculum from Cornell’s School of Ornithology.  My students have used that as a starting point to add some native plants to our existing outdoor learning space and to begin our efforts to attract Eastern Bluebirds to our school grounds.  We have added several bluebird nest boxes, including a nest cam and feeding stations to our school grounds.  Students will have the responsibility of monitoring the boxes as the birds arrive as well as maintaining the feeding stations.

Students have also worked on some research projects using the model laid out in the Bird Sleuth curriculum and we hope that some will decide to submit their final projects for consideration in their annual publication.

Students are also working with representatives from Audubon in the Audubon at Home project.  We hope to have our outdoor space designated as a Wildlife Sanctuary by continuing to do what we can to attract native species.

Students are very enthusiastic about this work and it has been very motivating for many of them.