The Southern Maryland Audubon Society has a long history of raising funds in order to award scholarships to local educators, allowing them to attend environmental education programs. Since 1936, the Audubon Camp in Maine has offered environmental education programs for adults, teens, families and conservation leaders on Hog Island in Muscongus Bay, Maine.  Southern Maryland educators can find information here to apply for Field Ornithology or Sharing Nature: An Educators week. Field Ornithology includes excursions to both mainland and coastal habitats, including offshore islands, windswept blueberry barrens, lush grasslands, and sphagnum bog forests (sensitive puffin-nesting islands will be observed by boat). Immerse yourself in a week of all things avian, from bird biology to nesting behavior, songs, migration and conservation. Learn in small-group settings about field identification.  Add some of the most respected bird experts in the country, and you have Field Ornithology on Hog Island. You’ll learn in the woods and on the water – experiencing the dawn chorus with experts in bird song at your side; landing on seabird nesting islands to observe nesting behavior at arm’s-length; discussing coloniality in the midst of a raucous heronry. You’ll come home with amazing memories – and a solid understanding of bird biology and ecology. In Sharing Nature, educators will learn practical approaches and add inspiration to their environmental education curriculum during this action-packed program. Our experienced and enthusiastic instructors share their favorite approaches, methods, and activities for engaging both children and adults with nature. Workshops using techniques in art, music, theater, journaling, and other disciplines will be presented, as well as a host of classic Audubon Camp field trips, including a boat trip to the restored Atlantic Puffin and Tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock, intertidal explorations, and hiking through Hog Island’s unspoiled spruce-fir forest. These experiences provide a wonderful opportunity to be learning outside in a beautiful setting, while also considering how you can take back some of these insights and methods to your students back home.

The Hog Island Experience is Once in a Lifetime


A Blackburnian Warbler, ready to be studied after being recovered from a mist net.

Last year’s scholarship winner Patrice Gribble-Fetter said, “When I stepped off the boat on to Hog Island, I stepped into the footsteps of people who created our profession. I birded on the same trail that Roger Tory Peterson first explored, mapped out, and led birding tours on. I admired the same forest and breathed in the morning mist just as Rachel Carson did when she visited the island. She later mentioned Hog Island in her book Silent Spring. I sat in the same room, and handled the same equipment that Dr. Steven W. Kress used when he founded Project Puffin in 1970 that brought back the Atlantic Puffin to the United States. I did not just learn about the history of ornithology, I became a living part of it. Working with top ornithologists in the country, I stood in the mists of a seabird-nesting colony discussing reproductive strategies of storm petrels, Atlantic puffins, and other seabirds. I setup mist nets and banded migratory warblers. I have to admit, I was thrilled to pull a Blackburnian Warbler out of the net. I went on early morning hikes and recorded the song of a Swainson’s Thrush. I explored the geology with leading geologists and evaluated plankton and microscopic plastic residue with marine biologists. Small groups allowed for detailed discussions of current research projects. I learned new methods to reach wider audiences and networked with professionals around the country and world.”

Southern Maryland Audubon Society © 2014 -- Osprey photo by Bill Townsend