Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Week
By Kirk Treakle – ASNV 2019 Hog Island Scholarship Winner
Spending six days on Hog Island, Maine was one of the most meaningful, educational experiences I have ever had. From the moment we stepped off the boat from the mainland, we were immersed in a rich environment of natural wonder, forming new relationships, and inspired by the passion and knowledge of the camp staff and our fellow educators who arrived from all over the country.
The week was full of highlights, big and small. Here are few:
Being challenged by the hands-on “Mystery of the Day” where we had to figure out something about the natural world by using available resources. It was fascinating to learn that black feathers contained more melanin, causing them to be hardier, and thus found on the outer wings of many sea birds whose feathers can take a beating when they sometimes touch the surface while flying over the water.
Exploring tide pools and pond life allowing us to live the kinds of experiences we hope to share with our students and along the way, anticipating pitfalls and learning a bagful of simple tricks to involve every child and expose them to the best outdoor nature experiences available to us.
Getting to witness, first hand, the results of decades of work by Audubon’s Project Puffin, a part of the Seabird Restoration Program, which has successfully re-introduced Atlantic Puffins to Egg Island where they once lived. The island is now thriving with puffins and Common Terns, which are still studied by scientists who live in tents near the birds during breeding season.
Discovering the geologic history of another island by walking its rocky coast with a geologist. Decades ago, fishermen who stained the island rocks with tar while waterproofing their nets, added a human element to the story told thousands of years ago in boulders deposited by glaciers, and even earlier by the twisted layers of schist and cross-cutting igneous intrusions created millions of years ago.
Sitting on moss-covered rocks under the shade of tall trees, the sounds of nature flooded our senses as we took a mindfulness break during a day-long hike around Hog Island.
Being a part of a group in an atmosphere that was purposefully created to be inclusive of all types of people.
Hearing the repeated message by camp staff that we all can and are making a difference in conserving nature, one student and one action at a time, and gaining so many new tools with which to successfully make those differences.
Educator’s Week on Hog Island was a celebration of the natural world, giving us strategies, tips, and ideas to inspire a sense of wonder with the youth we have the privilege to guide along the path.
I am so grateful to the Audubon Society of Northern Virginia for sponsoring me for this transformative adventure.