Maine Woods Forever is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 “Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award” – a youth-oriented award created to recognize young people and youth groups whose efforts are in the spirit of Roosevelt’s conservation ethic and achievements. The award recognizes what Maine’s youth are doing to appreciate and conserve our forest heritage. It also encourages them to become future conservation leaders.
The 2016 awards were announced on April 15, 2016, at Maine Woods Forever’s 33rd 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. This year’s awardees have clearly lived up to this ethic.”
1) Breaux Higgins, an Eagle Scout from Bar Harbor, was presented an award for an individual youth who has shown outstanding dedication, leadership and strong and steady growth in exhibiting Maine’s conservation ethic. One of his notable projects was to restore Bates Cairns at Acadia National Park and increase the public’s awareness of their use and significance.
Bates Cairns are stone trail markers. They suffer from significant chronic vandalism because hikers may not fully understand their meaning. Park visitors add or remove rocks from the cairns, build new ones pointing in different directions and even destroy them completely. This behavior is a safety issue because it leads hikers astray, a natural resource issue because rocks are taken from already thin mountain soil, and an aesthetic issue as these man-made objects clutter the beautiful natural landscape.
Breaux partnered with the US National Park Service staff at Acadia for his Eagle Scout Service Project to offer a multidimensional service project to optimize promotion of preservation and safety. Breaux developed a program to educate the public by raising awareness of the meaning of the Bates Cairns in Acadia, and combined the simple message of the cairns with principles of Leave No Trace outdoor ethics. His message reached a substantial number of visitors and, more importantly, created a program that can be sustained by Park and volunteer staff.
2) The Massabesic Middle School’s 7th grade Aroostook Team was presented an award for outstanding achievement by a youth organization to recognize their many collaborations as citizen scientists to study and then educate the public about many environmental conditions concerning Maine’s forests. These have included:
- The 2nd Annual Invasive Species Forum which reached over 100 community members and hundreds more of their peers
- Collaborating with the Vital Signs Program as well as state entomologists and forest service employees to present their work
- Contributing to Maine Project Learning Tree’s biannual newsletter which reached over 1200 educators and natural resource professionals throughout the state
- Participating in Invasive Plant Patrol training and certification with the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program
- Assisting the York County Soil and Water Conservation District with a survey of the state endangered New England Cottontail
- Surveying their home towns for forest pests such as red pine scale (Matsucoccus matsumurae), hemlock wooly adelgid (Adelges tsugae), and winter moth (Operophtera spp).
The award was accepted by 7th grade Aroostook Team students, Brenna Ramsdell and Andrew Lawpaugh, both of Limerick, and their 7th grade science teacher Patrick Parent.
“Each year this group of about eighty 7th graders impact and influence others because they experience their natural world, its complexities and its importance.” said Pat Maloney, Coordinator of Maine Project Learning Tree. “They communicate their passions, their knowledge and their appreciation of the Maine woods as a natural system in need of human understanding.”
“The Aroostook Team’s work will have lasting impacts beyond their graduation. The influence these students have had on the Vital Signs community of scientists, managers, educators, and fellow students is testament to their dedication to Maine’s forests.” – Team Vital Signs (Christine Voyer, Molly Auclair and Caroline Casals), Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Portland.
3) The Rangeley Region Guides & Sportsmen’s Association was presented an award for outstanding achievement by a youth organization to recognize their Junior Guides Program which offers children ages 9 through 12, as well as graduate Junior Counselors (ages 13-18) an exceptional outdoor skills education and experience. Sam Spaulding accepted the award on behalf of the Rangeley Region Guides & Sportsmen’s Association.
“This program has done an excellent job of educating, preserving and protecting the future of our natural resources while sharing the rich outdoor traditions and history of the region,” said Bill Pierce, Executive Director of the Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum in Rangeley. “The program has had alumni return every year as Junior Counselors who volunteer and help indoctrinate new Jr. Guides. In a word…it has created LEADERS.”
Pierce adds, “The children of the Rangeley community, often from single parent or overly-busy families that may not have otherwise had these experiences, have benefited greatly. Parents have witnessed its lasting rewards highlighted in the sun-kissed faces and rousing stories of their now empowered and confident children.”
Congratulations to all!