Category Archives: Explore

Animal Bones Identification and Exploration Program for Kids

Skull specimens in Dirigo Learning’s collection. Photo by Robin Huntley

Sorry, but this program is now full! You can still use the registration form to put your child on the waiting list, and we will contact you if space becomes available.

Friends of Sears Island and Dirigo Learning will host an animal bones exploration workshop for kids at the Belfast Free Library on Monday, October 22, from 4:30-6:00pm. The program will be led by Robin Huntley, of Dirigo Learning. During this hands-on workshop, participants will learn to recognize the key identifying characteristics of a host of familiar creatures.  Children will get to closely examine a variety of skulls, antlers, teeth, and other bones to look for clues about a creature’s diet, habitat, and behavior.  Showcased during the workshop will be Dirigo Learning’s bone collection, made up of over 35 different skull, bone, tooth, and antler specimens from birds, mammals, and fish.  Animals from the Maine landscape will be emphasized during the place-based program, and nearly all of the specimens included in Dirigo Learning’s bone collection have been gathered locally.

This program is for kids ages 6-12 with an accompanying adult. To sign-up, please visit https://friendsofsearsisland.org/registration-october-22/. This event is part of Friends of Sears Island’s “Science Squad,” an after-school program involving children as scientists, explorers, and stewards of their environment. Science Squad is made possible by a grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation. Program co-sponsor Dirigo Learning is a Community-Based Education Network affiliate for Midcoast and Central Maine whose mission is to promote community-based education by cultivation of learning experiences rooted within local landscape and culture.

Registered participants can plan to meet in the Abbott Room, on the ground floor of the library. For more information, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call 207-975-3878.

Spring Stewards Day for Kids

Friends of Sears Island will host Spring Stewards Day for Kids, on Friday, April 27th, from 4:00-5:30pm. After a long winter of marine debris washing up on Sears Island, spring is the perfect time for a beach clean-up, and with the celebration of Earth Day this month, this program will focus on pollution and stewardship. Marianne McKinney Randall from the Ban the Bag in Belfast group will teach participants about pollution in our marine environment and what local activists are doing to help with this problem. The program will also include a beach clean-up with kids collecting data on the types of debris found along the beach. This information will be sent to the Ocean Conservancy to be added to their global ocean trash database.

Space is limited for this free program, and advance registration is required. To sign-up, please CLICK HERE. This event is part of Friends of Sears Island’s “Science Squad,” a place-based after-school program involving children as scientists, explorers, and stewards of their environment. Science Squad is made possible by a grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation.

Sears Island is on Sears Island Road off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Registered participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the island gate by 4:00pm. Please wear footwear and outdoor gear appropriate for walking along the beach and bring water and a snack. No pets are permitted at public programs. In the event of inclement weather, program participants will be notified that the program is cancelled, with a back-up date of April 30th, 4:00-5:30pm. For more information, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call 207-975-3878.

Kids Winter Survival February Break Program on Sears Island

This program is now full!
If you would like to be put on a waiting list, please click to complete a registration form. You will be notified if space opens up.

Have you ever wondered how animals and plants survive the harsh Maine winter? On February 20th from 1:00-3:00pm Friends of Sears Island will host a free winter survival program led by Serena Cole. 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. Families will explore the winter woods on Sears Island while learning about plant and animal adaptations to cold climates, as well as outdoor winter survival strategies for humans. At the end of the program kids will have a chance to build a simple shelter to protect against the elements. This program is designed for kids ages 6-12 with an accompanying adult. To participate, please click here to register online.

This event is part of Friends of Sears Island’s “Science Squad,” a place-based after-school program involving children as scientists, explorers, and stewards of their environment. Science Squad is made possible by a grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation. Sears Island is on Sears Island Road off Route 1 just east of Searsport. Registered participants should park along the causeway at the end of the road and meet at the island gate by 1pm. Please wear footwear and outdoor gear appropriate for winter hiking and bring water and a snack. Please no pets at public programs.  In the event of inclement weather, program participants will be notified that the program is cancelled, with a back-up date of Feb. 22nd, 1-3pm. For more information, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland or call Aleta at 855-884-2284.

Mushroom Walk with David Porter

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.

Monarch Butterfly After-School Program for Children

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.

For more information about Friends of Sears Island, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, or www.facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland. To learn more about Monarch Watch, visit www.monarchwatch.org.

Thanks Stewardship Volunteers!

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.

 

Archaeology Walk with Paul Bock

This Early Ceramic period projectile point (about 2000-2500 years old) was made from quartzite and recovered by a local resident, along the Sears Island shore line.

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.

Geology of Sears Island Walk with David Laing

Discover the earth history of coastal Maine during a geology walk offered by Friends of Sears Island on Friday, June 30th from 10:00am – 12:00pm. David Laing will lead a program titled “Bedrock & Surficial Geology of Sears Island & Vicinity.” He will guide participants on an investigation of glacial deposits and exposed bedrock on Sears Island and discuss how it relates to the geology of the surrounding region. David Laing is a graduate of Dartmouth and Harvard who worked as a geology consultant and professor of geology at several universities. He has also authored books on earth science and global warming, and welcomes difficult questions.

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 near the island gate by 10:00am. Please wear footwear appropriate for hiking, and clothing to protect against ticks and the weather. Bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. For more information and updates about cancellations in the event of inclement weather, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or call Ashley at (207) 975-3878.

Citizen Science Opportunities on Sears Island


In 2016 Sears Island began a program to eradicate invasive plant species, monitor sensitive habitats, and to engage island visitors as citizen scientists on the island. On Saturday, June 10th, from 10am-12pm, Aleta McKeage will lead a nature walk that will teach walk participants how to identify invasive plants, and give a hands-on tutorial on how to use your camera and/or smartphone to record and report interesting observations of flora and fauna through FOSI’s new citizen science portal on their website. In addition, participants will be given field guides and checklists specific to Sears Island printed from iNaturalist, a website FOSI is using to create a database of the plant and animal species that can be seen on the island. McKeage will also discuss other exciting citizen science programs as well as apps and websites you can use to enrich your experience in nature while also contributing to an important collection of data that will help FOSI and other groups measure changes in biodiversity over time. This hands-on program will leave you feeling inspired about the simple actions you can take to make a difference in monitoring and protecting our natural resources.

Aleta McKeage is the Technical Director at Waldo County Soil and Water Conservation District and an ecological consultant at GreenWays Eco Center in Belfast. McKeage managed the Sears Island Stewardship Project last summer and will continue her work of removing invasive plants and monitoring this summer with several college interns.

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 near the island gate by 10:00am. If you have a smartphone, we encourage you to download the free iNaturalist app before the walk, as it may enrich your experience (however, this is not required). Please wear footwear appropriate for hiking, clothing to protect against ticks and the weather, and bring water, a snack, and insect repellent. Please no pets on guided walks. For more information and updates about cancellations in the event of inclement weather, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or call Ashley at (207) 975-3878.