After our success with leading regular Thursday Forays and Forest Fridays during the 2018-19 school year in local schools, we have continued and expanded our reach with these regular outdoor programs now in the 2019-20 school year! Learn about the regular outdoor school programming we’re doing this year.
For the second summer in a row, Maine Outdoor School was asked to do a fly-tying workshop with the students of CCLC’s River Camp program at Downeast Salmon Federation’s Wigwams Camp on the Machias River. Fly-tying is the traditional handcraft of using thread to tie various natural materials onto a hook to create a nearly weightless lure that can be used in fly-fishing to catch fish. So it was only natural that this year CCLC also wanted the students to have an opportunity to try their hand at fly-casting as well.
Harrington-area teens are enjoying a week of “Teen Ag Camp,” run by Healthy Acadia at Narraguagus Jr/Sr High School this week. While students were building school garden beds and learning about agriculture and nutrition, they squeezed in some time for a Maine Outdoor School program focused on nutrient cycling!
It is hard to believe that just a short year ago MOS and Downeast Salmon Federation (DSF) were setting out to provide 30 fly-tying workshop across Washington and Hancock counties all based on a small pilot event which showed promising interest. The goal of this workshop series was to engage the local community in fisheries conservation through the traditional handcraft of fly-tying. As of the writing of this article, we delivered 27 fly-tying workshops and anticipate wrapping up this series with four more before the end of July 2019.
When the weather becomes warmer and the ice melts from hiking trails, we find that schools start itching to get their students moving outdoors. When Beals Elementary School principal Chris Crowley reached out to us this spring asking for a hiking-focused field trip for his 5th-8th graders, we thought we could incorporate a service project at the same time. The Great Wass Island Preserve, managed by The Nature Conservancy, has a beautiful shoreline that, unfortunately, becomes strewn with trash that washes in from the ocean (primarily bleach and beverage bottles and fishing gear). Given that this preserve is located quite close to Beals Elementary School, it provided an ideal place to get moving outdoors and make it cleaner for the next time people hike there.
3rd-graders practiced their observation, writing, and reading skills outdoors all spring and on May 9th we sat under a spruce tree together behind their school where I recorded them sharing their writing. Their 5-minute radio feature aired on WERU-FM on Saturday, June 15th, 2019. You can find a link to listen to the episode and read the transcript here.
With ice still covering much of the forest floor in early April, Milbridge 5th-graders hunkered down onto the dry and warm “sit-upons” we always carry with us and reviewed their learning and experiences during Thursday Forays over the school year. They more than filled a chalkboard with their reflections on the educational games they played, the places they explored, the wildlife they saw, and the fun they’d had.
“Someday, I want to build a fort outside at school!” When four 2nd-graders had that same wish at Jonesport Elementary School this year, Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE), which aims to bring all students’ “Somedays” to life (among many other great things), reached out to Maine Outdoor School to help.
With our experience in facilitating outdoor shelter-building with children and our nature knowledge, we had an idea: why not have these students work together with their class to make a sort of fort that will last at least as long as they are students in Jonesport?
When the weather turns cold, some Maine critters hibernate, others take shelter and never leave home, and still others leave outright during an annual migration. In icy, snowy, rainy, and windy conditions of the winter of 2018-19, the intrepid Milbridge elementary school 3rd and 5th grade students spent time outside each week figuring out how other species adapt to winter.
On five wintry afternoons from mid-December until early February, a group of Jonesport Elementary School 6th-8th graders tested their leadership skills while learning about the components of the local landscape in a Forest Friday program series designed by Maine Outdoor School in collaboration with Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program.
While koozies are just a simple and fun project one can do with wool to keep hands comfortable and beverages insulated, the basic techniques and stitches used are the basis of all knitting, from scarves to shawls, mittens to hats, socks to sweaters. And being able to use local, natural resources to make clothes and accessories helps build personal and community resilience.
Starting in early September 2018, all 3rd and 5th-graders at Milbridge Elementary have been enjoying weekly Thursday Forays with Maine Outdoor School in collaboration with the Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program. Students in each grade spend one hour per week outside exploring and learning from nature and each other around their school. Every fourth week, the 3rd and 5th-graders combine for a two-hour experience, usually a field trip, to share their experiences with each other and learn from a different ecosystem.
When I arrived 15 minutes before the start of a fly-tying workshop we were leading in collaboration with Downeast Salmon Federation at Fogtown Brewing Company in Ellsworth to begin setting up vises and prepping tying materials, I was surprised by a jovial patron who exclaimed “you better get set up quickly because people are ready to get started!”
During late fall 2018, the Pre-K and Kindergarten students at Jonesport Elementary School spent an hour a week outside exploring and learning about nature during a collaborative program between Maine Outdoor School and Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE). Guided by the core question, “are humans part of nature?” students spent each week observing seasonal changes, exploring nature around their school, and making discoveries about how humans interact with the environment.
During early fall 2018, the 4th and 5th-graders at Jonesport Elementary School spent an hour per week each week figuring out “who lives here?” Maine Outdoor School, in collaboration with Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE), provided this five-week Forest Friday program series to meet both teacher and student goals. For inspiration, students referenced Island Readers and Writers book Look Up! by Annette LeBlanc Cate, a fun book about observing birds and keeping a sketchbook.
In collaboration with Downeast Salmon Federation, we are offering free fly-tying workshops across Hancock and Washington Counties over the next year. Visit our Events page to learn about the next workshop near you and read this article to learn about one of these recent workshops.
3rd and 5th-graders at Milbridge Elementary School know all about “phenology” and the living things they can find in their local ecosystem--do you? Due to a lovely partnership with Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program, Maine Outdoor School has been able to provide weekly one-hour outdoor programs to the 3rd and 5th-graders at Milbridge Elementary School.
Fur, feathers, thread, and steel. These are the basic components that make up an artificial fishing fly, but it is the art and handcraft of tying these flies that that can take a lifetime to master. The 9 students and 2 leaders at Cobscook Community Learning Center’s (CCLC) River Camp got to try their hands at fly-tying with MOS's resident fly-fishing fanatic, Joe Horn.
If a child came to you with a dream about “someday,” wouldn’t you want to help make that dream come true? Cobscook Community Learning Center’s Transforming Rural Experience in Education (TREE) program is working on accomplishing just that by listening to local students and helping weave their voices into the academic goals of their classrooms through their “Somedays” project. TREE realized when a Milbridge Elementary School 3rd-grader announced her wish for an outdoor shelter at school that Maine Outdoor School could help make that dream come true, so TREE provided the funding for Maine Outdoor School to lead a two-part program for her whole class of Milbridge 3rd-graders.
When two committed College of the Atlantic students get together to work towards a common effort, the results are typically outstanding. This project was no exception.