Maine Woods Forever is pleased to announce the first-ever recipients of the “Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award,” a youth-oriented award it has created to recognize young people and youth groups whose efforts are in the spirit of Roosevelt’s conservation ethic and achievements. This new award recognizes what Maine’s youth are doing to conserve our forest heritage. It also encourages them to become future conservation leaders.
The 2015 awards were announced on March 6, 2015, at Maine Woods Forever’s 30th Roundtable event, held at Unity College’s Center for the Performing Arts.
“The Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award honors today’s young people and the legacy of America’s most celebrated conservationist, President Theodore Roosevelt,” notes John Rust, chairman of the award committee. “Many credit his rugged sojourns in Maine during the late 1800s with shaping his determination to conserve our natural world. Mathias Deming and the Katahdin Area Council have both very clearly lived up to this ethic.”
Mathias Deming, 17, of Winthrop was presented an award for a youth who has shown outstanding dedication, leadership and strong and steady growth in exhibiting Maine’s conservation ethic. One of his notable projects is an East/West Highway Documentary Video. “Mathias wants to know the names and characteristics of Maine’s flora and fauna but he also sees the bigger picture,” said Jill Ippoliti, who nominated Mathias on behalf of the Friends of Baxter State Park, “He has an appreciation for Maine’s natural resource based economy and an interest in related policy issues.” Jeffrey Reardon, of Trout Unlimited, added, “Through hard work, commitment, and his skills as an advocate, he’s communicated his conservation ethic in ways that change the minds of key decision makers.”
The Katahdin Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, was presented an award for outstanding achievement by a youth organization to recognize their creation of the Demonstration Forest and Trail Guide, which is used at the Katahdin Scout Reservation, Camp Roosevelt, in East Eddington, Maine, to educate hundreds of scouts in forest ecology, forestry practices and conservation. Jim Robbins of Robbins Lumber made the nomination. Camp Roosevelt scout staff Mike Aspinall, and Scott Harvey, Scout Executive for the Katahdin Area Council, accepted the award at the Roundtable on behalf of the Council.
Mathias Deming – Mathias was one of 10 high school students selected to participate in the 2014 Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program offered by the Friends of State Baxter Park. The application process is competitive with selection based on a demonstrated interest in the outdoors and letters of recommendation. Chewonki provides trip leaders, and a variety of specialists and Park staff join the group along the way using science, art, storytelling, photography, writing, and history to augment the participants’ understanding of their environment. Mathias will be attending Chewonki Semester School this spring semester of his junior year.
As a sophomore in high school, Mathias completed a film on the proposed East West highway as an independent study. The film is available for viewing at http://vimeo.com/99246765. The film demonstrates his media skills as well as his respect for Maine’s heritage and quality of place.
Mathias has taken steps to get involved in Maine’s legislative process, and has testified at numerous hearings on bills and management policy. “It’s rare to find a teenager who is passionate about the outdoors; rarer still to find one who at an early age turns that passion into a conservation ethic,” adds Jeffrey Reardon, of Trout Unlimited. “Mathias has gone far beyond that. Through hard work, commitment, and his skills as an advocate, he’s communicated his conservation ethic in ways that change the minds of key decision makers.”
“Mathias demonstrated that he shares a strong connection with the natural world, thinks critically, communicates clearly and listens intently,” said Todd Dowling, of Chewonki Wilderness Trips. “He has the rare ability to transfer that appreciation to his peers via his charisma and his understanding of the environment around him. He is an impressive naturalist.”
“Mathias always made sure that everyone was included in the conversation and shared his knowledge in a way that showed an eagerness to understand rather than an interest in making others agree with him.” – Ashley Nadeau, Maine Youth Wilderness Leadership Program Trip Leader.
Katahdin Area Council, Boy Scouts of America – The Demonstration Forest was built in 2000/2001 by volunteer professional foresters, professors from the University of Maine, scouts and a local ATV club, to teach forestry to scouts and local school children.
The demonstration forest is composed of a one half mile long trail with eleven different learning stations plus an observation deck, a welcome pavilion for an outdoor classroom, and an enclosed classroom building. There is a guide book which trail visitors may take with them that explains each stop.
The trail starts at the welcome pavilion with an overview of forestry in Maine. The second stop is the observation deck where there is an explanation about thinning and regeneration. The next eleven learning stations talk about the following subjects in the following order: selective harvesting, tree growth, tree identification, clear cutting, white pine plantation and weevil damage, riparian zones, old growth, wildlife, multiple story management/sugarbush, hydrology, and soils.
Most years, around 1200 boy scouts and cub scouts attend Camp Roosevelt. Hundreds of boys have visited this trail. Many leaders spend free time on this demonstration forest with their boys. The trail is used extensively for merit badge study classes for the merit badges of Forestry, Environmental Science, and Nature.
In addition to summer camp during the summer, many scouting units go to Camp Roosevelt weekends for camping many weekends year around when they also may study at the demonstration forest. Before summer camp opens, a crew of scouts works to clear the trail, removing leaves from the soils pit, putting up signage etc. During the summer, older scouts, who are camp staff members, are out on the trail teaching the younger scouts that are working on merit badges such as Forestry and Environmental Science.