Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hog Island, Maine Celebrates 75 Years as Audobon Environmental Camp

Since 1936, one of the nation's greatest environmental education success stories has been the Audobon Society Camp on Hog Island Maine.

August 20th marks 75 years of connecting citizens and educators who attended the Audobon Camp with the island's remarkable variety of birds. It all began with Millicent Todd Bingham, who inherited Hog Island in 1932.  She gladly donated it to John Hopkinson Baker, then Audubon's executive director, who had been searching for a site where Audubon could help campers develop a sustained interest in the natural world.

Some of the world's most respected naturalists are graduates of this early program.

Roger Tory Peterson was among the first teachers at the 335-acre island in Maine's Muscongus Bay. His experiences helped spark interest in bird watching in the US, now the nation's second fastest growing hobby, after gardening.

Kenn Kaufman, only 9 when he read Peterson's account of Hog Island, is now an international authority on birds and one of the Hog Island instructors.

Rachel Carson, a pivotal force behind the modern environmental movement and creation of the EPA, described her visit to Hog Island in her landmark book "Silent Spring."

It was also here that Audubon's Dr. Stephen Kress pioneered Project Puffin, a seabird restoration program that is now being replicated to help different species of seabirds around the globe. Watch their Hog Island video here.

Today, the Audobon Society uses the popular camp to focus on educators who can help spread their message to younger generations. Notes Audubon's VP of Education, Judy Braus, "Educators are immersed in the wonder and beauty of the island – and we know that the experiences they share as well as the teaching skills the program imparts will foster environmental stewardship among thousands of young people and adults in communities across the country."

The August 20 celebration on Hog Island is open to the public and includes a tour of the historical buildings, plus an afternoon clambake, with remarks by Audubon president David Yarnold. To learn more, visit the Audobon Society site.

"I've run out of superlatives to describe it. The knowledge this island has to share will change the way you look at the natural world." Kenn Kaufmann

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