Maine Woods Forever is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 “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 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, chair 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 award recipients have clearly lived up to this ethic.”
The 2017 awards were presented on April 7, 2017, at Maine Woods Forever’s 36th Roundtable event, hosted at Unity College’s Center for the Performing Arts.
The 2017 recipients are:
1) Fiona Ammerman, a Fourth grade student at Katahdin Elementary School in Stacyville, was presented an award for an individual youth who has shown outstanding dedication, leadership and steady growth in exhibiting Maine’s conservation ethic.
Her notable efforts include a campaign to support conserving the lands east of Baxter State Park, and to increase the public’s awareness of their use and significance. In doing so, Fiona spoke to more than 1400 people at a public meeting with Senator Angus King and John Jarvis, National Park Service director. She recalled canoeing with her grandfather on the East Branch, fishing, swimming, looking for animals and birds, and simply enjoying the land and its beauty.
“I was incredibly impressed by her love for her home in Maine’s North Woods and her desire to share what she loved with the world through the creation of a National Monument,” said Eliza Donoghue, Forests & Wildlife Policy Advocate for the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
Having a conviction and putting it into clear words is very impressive, let alone standing up before a large crowd to share them. “Fiona has a natural gift for speaking and a passion for the natural lands of northern Maine,” said Marie Robinson, Principal at the Katahdin Elementary School and who nominated Fiona for the award. “Her speech helped to educate the general public about the importance of conserving Maine’s forested areas.”
2) Lee Academy Service Learning Team, directed by science teacher Susan Linscott, was presented an award for outstanding achievement by a youth organization in recognition of their program that provides students with direct experiences in the forests and their community.
Lee Academy’s student body consists of local and international students, all of whom explore, research and experience the feeling of being in nature while gaining an appreciation of Maine’s woods.
Students are required to design conservation and forestry lessons, and to then mentor local elementary and middle school students. “The mentor program between our Lee/Winn Elementary School and Lee Academy involves local and international student leaders taking groups of our students outside on our school’s nature trail, to study tree growth, and to discuss the hazards of spruce budworm,” said Lois Hardy, Teacher at the Lee Winn Elementary School. “It has been the perfect introduction into conservation for our fourth graders.”
The program also has international impact, as Gus LeBlanc, Lee Academy’s Headmaster states, “Students helped introduce exchange students from Lishui, China, to Maine’s vast natural resources and our efforts to maintain and grow those resources through conservation and environmental protection efforts. The Chinese students left with an understanding of the concept of conservation stewardship, to which they had never been exposed.”
The program has also involved:
- Conducting a culvert survey in Lee and analyzing them for environmental safety and structural integrity. Following the survey, students dug into design work assuming the role of engineers.
- Researching the history, economics and environmental impacts of the last spruce budworm (SBW) outbreak including long term effects on the forest. They interviewed Lee residents, then designed brochures and art before hosting an informative community event where they presented facts, maps and stories about the budworm outbreak and what to expect in the near future.
- Competing in the statewide Envirothon.
- Establishing permanent forestry plots where they collect and analyze real data; and use data loggers to record events informing them of the ecological changes.
The award was accepted by Lee Academy Juniors Lauren Dodge of Lee and Cole Harriman of Topsfield, and science teacher Susan Linscott, who created and directs the program. Pat Maloney, Coordinator of Maine Project Learning Tree, made the nomination.
3) Piscataquis Community Secondary School’s 9th and 10th Grade Environmental Science Class, studying under Science Teacher Heather Doherty, was presented an award for outstanding achievement by a youth organization to recognize their activities as citizen scientists to gather and share scientific data about Maine’s forests.
The class has been involved in many outside activities in the Guilford and Dover-Foxcroft area. One example is their recent participation as citizen scientists in the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District’s (PCSWCD) BioBlitz at its Law Farm in October 2016.
A BioBlitz is an event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and others work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible in a designated area.
Students worked with experts in their fields to take an accumulative inventory of all vegetative species, identifying unknown species with provided resources. All signs of wildlife ranging from tracks, scat, nests, even an antler shed were inventoried to document the species that inhabited the property. At the end of the day the students presented the plethora of data they had collected to the group of volunteers, teachers, and fellow students.
In working with the professional volunteers, students also learned about potential careers and the importance of conserving Maine’s forest. “Through hands-on-training the students were able to put themselves in the shoes of professionals for a day and see what a career in conservation might be like,” adds Nicholas Butler, Soil Survey Office Leader for the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District.
The class not only helped PCSWCD, but they have also worked to identify trees, plants, animal signs, and other natural features that will be used for a self-interpretive nature trail for students and the community on the school grounds.
The award was accepted by environmental science students, Sophomores Alivia Hunt and Alison Quimby, and their teacher Heather Doherty. Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors & Staff with Executive Director Joanna Tarrazi, made the nomination.