SALISBURY COVE, Maine — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory $84,000, the lab announced Friday.
The funds will be used to help inland Maine teachers and students understand the role of marine habitats in combating climate change by involving them in restoration and conservation projects in Frenchman Bay and Hancock County.
The lab was one of 74 organizations in New England to apply for funding and one of only four to receive a portion of the $219,094 awarded. Dr. Jane Disney, director of MDI Biological Lab’s Community Environmental Health Laboratory, will oversee the project.
The EPA-funded programs will expand the lab’s ecologist-in-residence program and engage teachers and students from Bangor and Waterville as stewards of local eelgrass habitat. It will create a teacher internship program for inland teachers to work more closely with lab researchers, offer teachers a short course on marine habitats and climate change, and include a marine science event presented by students.
Disney started working with teachers and students from inland schools earlier this year with support from the University of Maine’s Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence. MDI Biological Lab leads a collaborative program to restore and protect eelgrass beds in Frenchman Bay and also offers a “Seagrasses in Classes” program in coastal Hancock County middle schools based on the lab’s research on eelgrass. Eelgrass beds provide critical nursery habitat to many economically important species of fish and shellfish and help remove carbon from the atmosphere.