During the week of April vacation, a group of students with the Maine Migrant Education Program (MEP) participated in a host of activities geared toward learning more about and taking care of our Earth. MEP staff Bethany Woods and Ana Blagojevic planned a week-long program to engage students in hands-on projects and fun, educational trips while they were out of school.
At the start of the week, the group visited the College of the Atlantic where the sustainability coordinator, Lisa Bjerke, led a tour of the campus’s recycling and composting facilities. And not just any compost, mind you! COA has impressive gardens and farms where all of their food waste is sent and composted, but several buildings also have composting toilets. Students learned about the life cycles of food and human waste that is composted and where the new soil is then used.
On the same theme of compost, we were fortunate to host Lisa Reilich, a 4-H educator of the Cooperative Extension in Machias, who led an activity about vermiculture with the students. The group learned how worm bins function, what the worms like to eat, and what they specifically need to stay alive. Finally, each student was able to make a “vermi-condo” to take home with them for composting scraps from the kitchen.
Another highlight during the week was a hike and trash pick-up on Earth day at the Petit Manan Wildlife Refuge.The mile-long hike circles out to the coast through the woods, and also gave students a chance to practice teamwork and helping one another when confronted with deep puddles from the previous day’s rain. For a few students, it was their first time out to the beach in Maine, and all of the group enjoyed exploring the tide pools and the different types of seaweed on the shore.
We also enjoyed a visit to the Schoodic Institute (SERC) in Winter Harbor, where a park ranger and volunteers had planned an engaging program. The younger group learned about developing habitats in the forest, went on a nature hike, and uncovered more than a few salamanders under logs. After learning about the soil makeup and making the connection between compost and different types of soil, the older group explored the shoreline trail, taking soil samples and examining animal markings.
Other activities during the week included a trip to the Milbridge recycling center to learn what we can recycle and reuse in our town, a visit to the Milbridge library, and a paper-making activity.