The Gulf of Maine Institute has teams of youth from around the edges of this international water body. Each team works on projects in their local area with focus of its implications for the greater environment in which it sits. Teams share their information at mini-conferences, a week long Summer Workshop, on e-mail, the GOMI Facebook page, and this web site.
The Newburyport GOMI team is a committed group of Newburyport High School students who help raise environmental awareness in the community and throughout the Great Marsh region. The group’s objectives are to raise awareness of environmental issues through education and outreach, and to locate, educate, and help eradicate the invasive species Perennial Pepperweed.
The group has served the community as appointed representatives to 8Towns and a Bay, a regional environmental Board of coastal Essex County communities. They have mapped the presence of Pepperweed in the Great marsh, inspired the Parker River Refuge to hire an invasive species coordinator, and coordinated student volunteer efforts. They are engaged in a regional study of the Merrimack River Watershed with the Concord, NH team.
The YES (Youth Environmental Service) Team of Concord, New Hampshire, is a service-learning program designed for high school students within the Concord area. The team focuses on recognizing and taking action on environmental issues while working closely with the community to achieve a positive change. Students take full advantage of the unique learning experience by exploring various environmental science fields and careers under the guidance of both local and regional experts.
From its establishment in 2007, until 2009, the team ran solely during the summer. In the last year, the program was expanded and now exists year round. This allows for further project accomplishment and a stronger significance in the community. Students chose to focus their attention on composting and its benefits in the first year of the freshly expanded program. They also implemented programs locally, including a school supply recycling drive and hair collection for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The towns of Essex and Manchester are located in an ecologically important area, with open spaces, streams, wetlands, coastal plains, salt marshes, ocean tidelands, beaches and rocky shores. The Middle High School—certified by the Collaborative for High Performing Schools (CHPS)—is a cutting-edge “green” facility built with recycled materials using an energy-efficient design. With this state-of-the-art school as a foundation, the district was given a unique opportunity to develop an environmentally sustainable program to work alongside and support the architectural choices made in the designing of the new school. Founded in April 2009, the Green Team’s goal is to identify environmentally sustainable initiatives and to implement them in this setting.
In its short history, the Green Team’s many accomplishments have been impressive, thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff, students and community members. The Team’s first initiative was to brand the Green Team with a logo which represents a spotted salamander, a “species of special concern” in both communities of Manchester and Essex. The Green Team’s foremost initiatives include the development of an honors course titled Green Scholars Program representing the district’s effort to integrate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics), 21st-century skills, environmental literacy, experiential education, inquiry-based learning, project management, and service-learning into a single program; the establishment of an organic garden called the Edible Schoolyard; a TerraCycle program; and the District Wide implementation of single-stream-recycling (SSR) and composting programs. These successful initiatives and projects have effectively spread environmental awareness in the schools and communities.
These successes have been attained through the participation of Green Team Directors Eric Magers and Scott Morrison and enthusiastic involvement of the staff and student body. Students have played a large part in directing the Team as it has evolved, and through their participation on many committees, have influenced the conception and deployment of initiatives. Leadership in environmental sustainability and a well-developed curriculum and framework are crucial to the future of this program. Although the program continues to grow rapidly, it is quickly approaching the ceiling that appears when an initiative is an underfunded effort. In order to reach the new heights that can be achieved, funding is needed. To that end, it is paramount that the Green Team collaborates with partners in order for Manchester Essex Regional School District to make theses next major leaps forward.
The Digby Neck / Islands team consists of a small group of students who work on projects centered on educating the public and fellow students at Islands Consolidated School. In our four years with GOMI we have learned from the other teams and leaders. Application of those new experiences have led us to launch a public campaign against Global Climate Change through interpretive signage, published articles, bumper stickers, brochures and advertisements. Along with other organizations we have helped establish a quality trail and park on 14 acres of land in a significant birding area. Our current drive is spear heading a cooperative effort between community groups to establish a walking trail / outdoor nature classroom / and a “REAL (restorative environmentally aware landscape) garden” featuring natural existing species. The project will encourage stewardship and is located on an important watershed that includes freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh, bog, and forest – tremendous places to learn stewardship, connect with nature, promote fitness, and boost ecotourism.
Many of the priorities of the Barington Municipal High School GREEN TEAM revolve around the concerns of its fishery-sustained communities. Tidal surge impact studies, tests and photo records are being compiled. For the last five years, awareness of its Piping Plover Protected Beaches has been brought to the schools and local communities. Annual beach clean-ups have been co-ordinated with Bird Studies Canada, CPAWS, Environment Canada and Clean Nova Scotia, as well as the Cape Sable Important Bird Area.
The implementation of a REAL (Restorative Environmentally Aware Landscape) Memorial Garden on the school site has resulted in the identification of over 80 native species (Lady Slipper, Painted Trillium), with this year’s plans to insall interpretive panels. A shade pavilion and park have been constructed, which along with this year’s expansion of a walking trail, will promote the use of an outdoor classroom. Our goal is to see other schools and community grounds use the REAL concept, enjoy nature and their “green space”.
The North Queens Community School team works with researchers at the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute (MTRI) and Kejimkujik National Park (Keji) on projects regarding species at risk in the Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve. The primary focus this year is on the Blandings turtle. Students will monitor nest sites, check water quality, and participate in the Blandings turtle head start program that is being done in partnership between Keji, Acadia University, and the Toronto zoo. Students will produce multimedia and arts based learning materials that will be the basis of educational kits the team develops for use by educators within the biosphere.