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.
Wildflower Talk will Prepare You to Identify Spring Blooms
Northern blue violet growing on Sears Island. Photo by Alison Dibble
Clare Cole will present a wildflower identification slideshow at the Belfast Free Library on April 3rd, at 6:30pm. She will discuss which wildflowers bloom in this area of Maine as the seasons progress from spring to summer, and key characteristics to help you identify various species. Clare is a Maine Master Naturalist. Her capstone project was identifying the flowering plants at Bangor City Forest. She continued the project and has identified over 250 species of wildflowers and shrubs to date. She also has a degree in forestry and enjoys hiking and backpacking with her husband and three grown sons.
Friends of Sears Island will host a presentation on the history of air pollution in Maine by Dr. Stephen Norton, at the Belfast Free Library on June 5th, at 6:30pm. Humans have only been able to accurately characterize the chemical climate of Earth for about 50 years. To study pollution prior to the 1950s, scientists study the archives of pollution that are stored in soils, tree cores, museum collections of vegetation, ice cores from high elevation and/or high latitude, lake sediments, and peat accumulations in bogs. The evening presentation will focus on what soil surveys, lake and peat sediments can reveal, and if time allows, a few comments on the other archives.
Steve Norton is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Earth and Climate Sciences at the University of Maine. He graduated from Princeton and Harvard University, earning his PhD in 1967. He joined the Department of Geology faculty at the University of Maine in 1968 where he taught and did research until his retirement in 2008. His research is in the field of aquatic geochemistry.
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.
Dr. Mark McCollough, endangered species biologist with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will speak on “The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, Maine Newest Endangered Species” at the Belfast Free Library on February 6th, at 6:30pm. This program is free and open to the public.
The rusty patched bumble bee was added to the Federal Endangered Species List in March 2017. It was once one of Maine’s most abundant and widespread bumble bees, but has disappeared from much of its range. It was last seen in the mid-coast region of Penobscot Bay and may still exist here. Why are the rusty patched bumble bee, yellow-banded bumble bee, and many other pollinator species declining? What can you do to help? Would you like to help search for bumble bees this summer? Mark will discuss the fascinating ecology of this bumble bee and explain several programs that Federal and State agencies are initiating to help pollinator species in the state.
Dr. McCollough has been an endangered species biologist for the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the last 15 years. Before that he worked for Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and was leader of the Nongame and Endangered wildlife programs. Mark works on everything from bumble bees to Canada lynx to the elusive Furbish’s lousewort. Some may know that Mark is also a wildlife artist. You may own a piece of his art and not know it (Maine’s chickadee and loon automobile license plates as well as Maine’s latest endangered species poster).
Friends of Sears Island (FOSI) recently received a generous grant from the Davis Conservation Foundation to create “Science Squad,” a place-based after-school program involving children as citizen scientists. In the coming year, FOSI will host an after-school program once a month for 12 students and their parents, during each month that school is in session. This program will engage children throughout the seasons as explorers, researchers, and stewards of their local environment. They will also contribute valuable data to a variety of citizen science projects, including FOSI’s database of island biodiversity.
Future programs will be announced via our email list, and also on the website. If you would like to be added to our email list, please complete our contact form. Programs have filled up quickly, so be sure to sign up promptly!
Join Friends of Sears Island for a branch weaving workshop with Sandi Cirillo on Sunday, October 1st, from 9am-12pm. She will lead program attendees on an exploration of Sears Island while gathering natural materials to create a weaving, suitable for display in your home or a child’s room. We’ll look for a small but sturdy branch and then learn how to weave on found items. Everyone on this outing will learn more about the environment on Sears Island and how important it is to protect it. Registration is required for this event- please call 207-975-3878 to sign-up, as space is limited. This program is free and open to ages 7 and up. Children must attend with an adult who will be responsible for their supervision.
Sandi has been a fiber/mixed media artist for over 25 years and is a retired art educator who gives many different fiber workshops in the Northeast, North Carolina, locally at her home studio in Searsport, and through Bucksport Adult Education. Visit her website, www.especially-for-ewe.com to see examples of Sandi’s work and a list of available workshops.
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 9:00am. Please bring a beach blanket to sit on while weaving and a pair of sturdy scissors. Also wear sturdy shoes, suitable clothing for hiking, and bring a snack, water, and bug spray if desired. Please no pets for this event. For more information and updates in the event of inclement weather, visit www.friendsofsearsisland.org, www.facebook.com/friendsofsearsisland, or call Ashley at 207-975-3878.
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.