Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a mushroom walk led by David Porter on September 13th, from 10am-12pm. David is a graduate of Yale and the University of Washington, and worked as a professor in the Plant Biology Department at the University of Georgia. His specialty is mycology, the study of mushrooms and other fungi. Program attendees will observe numerous fall mushrooms, learn the basics of mushroom identification, and become aware of commonly overlooked signs of the hidden underground activities of mushrooms and other fungi and how they contribute to the ecology of the Maine forest.
This event is free and open to the public, and questions and curiosity are welcomed. Sears Island is on Sears Island Road off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the kiosk near the island gate by 10am. Wear footwear appropriate for walking in the woods, and clothing to protect against ticks and the weather. Bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. In the event of steady rain, the program will be cancelled. For more information and updates, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call Ashley at 207-975-3878.
Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a free after-school program on monarch butterflies with Serena Cole for children ages 5-10 on September 12th, from 4:15-5:30pm. Serena has been a biology and environmental educator for 30 years. She has led student science groups to Costa Rica, and been involved with citizen science projects at Schoodic Point Educational Research Center. Children will learn about monarch life cycles and hike to a large milkweed field where they will have the opportunity to look for butterflies and carefully net and assist with tagging them as part of the Monarch Watch program, which tracks the annual butterfly migration. The milkweed field on Sears Island also just received certification as a “Monarch Waystation” through Monarch Watch, designating it as an important habitat for the butterflies. Program attendees will help install the new waystation sign in the field as well. This is an exciting way for children to get involved in citizen science. To ensure a quality experience and enough materials for each child, space for this program is limited and you must register by calling 207-975-3878.
Taking care of Sears Island has continued to be a hands-on venture this year, our second year of implementing our new Stewardship Management Plan. As always, invasive plant control is at the forefront of our efforts. We also completed more biological monitoring on long term study plots and sensitive areas (see photos). We were ably assisted by Unity College students and the Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Corps interns. Students learned about scientific data collection by assisting biologist Aleta McKeage in collecting data on plants growing in permanent plots, which are sampled every 5 years. This study will allow us to track changes in the natural community over time. The interns and other volunteers are also actively involved in our major drive to control invasive plants on the island, and have removed stands of oriental bittersweet, purple loosestrife, garden valerian and Japanese barberry. A complete assessment of invasive plants, including mapping of all known plants was completed last year, and now our push is to remove them, with a goal to eradicate many species entirely. Sears Island, in fact, is one of the few locations in Midcoast Maine that is relatively free of invasives and has the potential to be a healthy refuge for native plants and wildlife.
We had a wonder-filled Kids Week on Sears Island! We were able to offer these experiences free to local children thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation. During the first day, children created art on the beach by using sunprint paper to make prints of found items, rock and driftwood sculptures, and crafted paintbrushes from natural materials. On the second day we learned about animal adaptations and habitats by playing educational games and exploring the beach, forest, and milkweed field with magnifying glasses and field guides on hand. We also did an interesting activity to learn about non-point source pollution and how our water can become polluted over time, and discussed what stewardship means. On the last day, children learned map reading skills, worked as a group to find buried treasure, designed maps to create scavenger hunts for each other, and learned to use a GPS to find geocaches stashed in interesting spots around the island. A fun time was had by all! Thank you to the families that participated.
As part of Searsport Heritage Days, Friends of Sears Island will be hosting a walk titled “Archaeology of Sears Island and Upper Penobscot Bay: A Window Through Deep Time,” led by Paul Bock, on Saturday, August 12th, from 9:30-11:00am. Paul is an archaeologist and the owner of Stoney Knoll Archaeological Supply in Searsport. The program will focus on some of the Native American sites that have been excavated in the area, from the Archaic period, through the Ceramic Period and into the Euro-Contact period. Paul will also touch on some of the important early historic sites within the immediate area (17th and 18th century), as well as how Sears Island was exploited during that period. Program participants are encouraged to bring any artifacts they’ve found on Sears Island for identification, as surface finds can be an important tool to help identify new archaeological sites.
This event is free and open to the public. Sears Island is on Sears Island Road off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the kiosk just beyond the island gate by 9:30am. Wear footwear appropriate for walking in the woods and on the beach, and clothing to protect against ticks and the weather. Bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. In the event of steady rain, the program will be cancelled. For more information and updates, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call Ashley at 207-975-3878.
We are now taking registrations for Kids Week over the phone. During the first week of August we will offer three separate programs led by Ashley Megquier for children ages 4-10 and a parent or caregiver. Please note, SPACE IS LIMITED AND YOU MUST REGISTER BY CALLING 207-975-3878to participate in any of these programs. This is to ensure we can offer a quality experience and have enough materials for each child. Families can sign up for just one or multiple programs depending on availability. See details about each of the programs below:
August 2nd, 9:30am-12pm
Art in the Outdoors: Creating in Nature
We’ll go exploring to find some natural materials to create with, and then learn how to use sunprint paper to make beautiful prints of leaves, flowers and more! We will also play games, read a story, and discover other ways to use items found in nature to create art.
August 3rd, 9:30am-12pm
Nature Rangers: Animal Habitats & Care of the Environment
Learn about the where animals live on Sears Island and how they are specially adapted to their environments. We’ll explore different types of habitats, play games, and learn ways we can all help protect the earth.
August 4th, 9:30am-12pm
Map Making, Scavenger Hunts & Geocaching
This day is all about hiding and seeking! We’ll learn about the symbols used on maps, make our own to lead each other on scavenger hunts, and then learn how to use a GPS to find a hidden geocache!