SEARSPORT — Nineteen students recently graduated from the Penobscot Bay Stewards Program, sponsored jointly by the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition and the Maine State Planning Office. Students completed nine days of intensive study through lectures and field trips. Headquarters for the five-week course was in the Old Vestry Building at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, which also gave students a day of behind-the-scenes tour of their curatorial storage facilities and a tour of the museum.
The graduates are Gil Albert, Penny Albert, Helen Burlingame, Jean Durham, Liz Fitzsimmons, Ron Harrell, Kate Harris, Susan Higgins, Linda Hurley, Claire Jordan, Tom King, Barbara Klie, Cecile McKenzie, Marilyn McLelland, Jenny McVeigh, Robin Richenaker, Sonia Spalding, Marie Underwood, Janet Williams and Karin Wittman.
In addition, for lectures and on-site exploration, students visited Sears Island, vernal pools, Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Old Quarry Campground and Ocean Adventures in Stonington, Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in Orland, Penobscot River Restoration Project and Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Rockland, Moose Point State Park, Fields Pond Audubon Center, Bagaduce River to view horseshoe crabs and Ducktrap Harbor. They traveled to Holbrook Island by boat, courtesy of Maine Maritime Academy, took an ecological boat cruise of East Penobscot Bay aboard a lobster boat, and an all-day excursion to Monhegan Island and Eastern Egg Rock Puffin Colony.
On the final day held at Searsport Shores Campground, after lectures about mussel and oyster aquaculture, students were entertained at a picnic lunch, and presented with graduation certificates. Although the course was free, students now will be expected to complete at least 30 hours of environmental community service during the next year.
Plans are under way for next year’s Penobscot Bay Stewards Program to begin May 2012.