National Audubon celebrates Hog Island’s 75th

From the National Audubon Society

A Model for Conservation Education Since 1936

Hog Island double rainbow by Steve Kress
Double rainbow by Steve Kress

One of the nation’s greatest environmental education success stories will be celebrated August 20 as Audubon’s Hog Island Camp marks 75 years of connecting people with nature. Since 1936, some of the world’s most respected naturalists have inspired campers of all ages to learn about and protect birds and the environment.

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 U.S. It is now the nation’s second fastest growing hobby, after gardening.

Kenn Kaufman, only nine years old 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.

“There’s only one Hog Island and it represents something special for so many people,” said Audubon president David Yarnold. “Hog Island is a breeding ground for optimism. People’s lives are changed when they see how birds lead us to ecosystems and they hold a special place in their hearts and souls for nature – and for Hog Island. Most important, Hog Island fuels our passion for teaching others about the world we’ve been entrusted to protect.”

Millicent Todd Bingham inherited Hog Island in 1932. She partnered with John Hopkinson Baker, then Audubon’s executive director, who had been searching for a site where Audubon could launch the organization’s first educational camp. The goal, unconventional at the time, was to help campers develop a sustained interest in the natural world.

“By focusing Hog Island’s programming on educators — who are often our most passionate conservation ambassadors — we have been able to multiply our impact exponentially,” said Audubon’s Vice President 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 event includes a tour of the historical buildings, plus an afternoon clambake, with remarks by Audubon president David Yarnold.

More voices of Hog Island

“Hog Island takes hold of you. There are many beautiful places, but this one will change your life.” — Scott Weidensaul, author

“If your life is steeped in birds, you owe it to yourself to return to the Source.” — Pete Dunne, Director of the Cape May Bird Observatory, V.P. of New Jersey Audubon Society Natural History Information, and founder of the World Series of Birding.

“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

Quotes from teachers who attended classes on Hog Island

I have been teaching for 25 years and have never experience a more well rounded and useful program than that offered to educators on Hog Island.

When I came to Hog Island I didn’t know what to expect. Five days later I had been rewarded with the most transformative professional development experiences I have had as a teacher.

I really felt that I was in the presence of some of the best birding people in the country, if not the world.

The beauty of the island, the inspiration imparted by the staff and guest speakers, and the knowledge shared by the instructors is a life-changing event!

Your program, staff, environs and heritage are an absolute treasure. Thank you for caring about our wonderful world and its future.

The staff was amazing. You have set the bar very, very high for all future camps.

It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Steve Kress wants you … to volunteer

I am very pleased to share the news that the programs on Hog Island for the coming summer are more than 90% filled with several already with wait lists.  This is certainly great news as we welcome this year’s campers for the 75th anniversary of the Camp.

If you would like to follow the success of the registration process, please download this report (PDF); it is updated every few weeks by Camp Registrar, Erica VanEtten.

While the Camp has filled rapidly, there are still some opportunities to spend time on Hog Island this summer as a FOHI volunteer. If you have not already signed up, I hope you will join us.

Installing carpet mat at Eastern Egg Rock. By Stephen Kress.

We have several work weeks planned that will open the island in May and June and close down for the winter in late September.

Sue Schubel is the FOHI volunteer coordinator and the point person for sending your application to assist the program. I greatly appreciate your continued help for the Camp

In addition to the work weeks, there are also several openings remaining in all of the teaching sessions to help in the kitchen and maintenance around the grounds and buildings.  In these sessions, FOHI volunteers will be able to take part in some of the classes and field trips as space permits.

Please consider join us by completing and returning this form (PDF) to Sue Schubel.

I hope you will join us for this 75th anniversary summer for the Audubon Camp.

Steve Kress receives National Audubon honor

The Golden Egret Award is for a staff member who by his or her continuous and consistent effort over the years displays leadership qualities and is an example to other employees of helpful, supportive, caring, and dependable service.  The candidate must have a minimum of ten years service at Audubon.

Steve Kress

The 2010 Golden Egret Award has been awarded to Steve Kress, Vice President, Bird Conservation, Seabird Restoration, ME

Steve is known by some as “the puffin guy,” others as Audubon’s rock star scientist, and others as that humble but passionate protector of seabirds and a great believer in the power of education.

Steve has had a long and distinguished career with Audubon.  He is internationally known and celebrated and has produced conservation results that are legendary not only in Audubon, but far beyond our borders.  Steve doesn’t just save birds — he’s a passionate educator who inspires and empowers others. Steve, with his 30-plus years of directing the Seabird Restoration Program, continues to demonstrate a record of leadership, team building, and financial ingenuity that is remarkable to all those who work with him.

After starting a small field program on one island, he has now grown the program to include seven Audubon-managed islands, where more than 8,000 pairs of mixed Terns and 1,000 pairs of Puffins nest each summer. Steve is a master of innovation, inventing ways to solve problems that may not have been used before, while building leadership among others who work with him.  For example, since he started his work with puffins and seabirds he has trained more than 500 college students who have served as “seabird island stewards.”  Many of these interns have gone on to successful careers in conservation, cherishing their unique experiences with the “puffin project” and Steve Kress.

Steve is not only a role model for so many of us at Audubon, but is truly an inspiration to anyone who cares about conservation and building the next generation of leaders.

Steve is known to his colleagues as having a wonderful sense of humor, and is thoughtful, wise, and an entrepreneurial leader who continues to create new opportunities that grow and promote the Audubon mission.  Since the late 1980’s more than 75,000 people have participated in this Audubon-sponsored venture.  With every trip, Steve and his team of interpreters inform, inspire, and entertain future conservation constituents who often go on to be Audubon members and supporters.

Steve has written books about birds, bird watching, and gardening for birds and wildlife.  And he’s organized a cadre of highly-motivated volunteers and staff who are currently helping to restore Hog Island programming and operations for new generations.  And the list could go on and on.

Steve is not only a role model for so many of us at Audubon, but is truly an inspiration to anyone who cares about conservation and building the next generation of leaders.

Video captures the spirit of Hog Island

Famed videographer Lang Elliott has produced a new 6-minute video about the ornithology and teen birding session at the Audubon Camp in Maine on Hog Island.

Elliott and co-videographer Martyn Stewart capture the spirit of the legendary camp which will celebrate its 75th anniversary next summer.

The video features well-known birders Kenn Kaufman, Scott Weidensaul, Greg Budney, Sara Morris and Steve Kress. Lang will join the field ornithology instructors for the 2011 Hog Island program.