FOHI News, Spotlights

Hog Island renewal

Dear friends of Hog Island: I am very pleased to share the news that we have enjoyed three very successful weeks at Hog Island this past June. The program this year operated under Project Puffin (which is part of National Audubon Society’s Science Division). There were three sessions — all focusing on birds.

The first was a five day service learning session operated in conjunction with Road Scholar (formerly Exploritas/Elderhostel). The program was titled Maine Seabird Biology and Conservation. Twenty-four participants took part in the program, the highlight of which was a census of the eider and gull population on Audubon’s Ross Island.

Our second session was titled Joy of Birding which featured Pete Dunne, Peter Vickery, Chris Lewey and other notable instructors. We had a total of 52 participants in this session.

Our third week of June programming was titled Field Ornithology and Coastal Maine Birding for Teens. A total of 44 adult and 15 avid teens attended this session (the largest group in Hog Island history) which featured Kenn and Kim Kaufman, Scott Wiedensaul, Sara Morris and other top ornithologists.

Our final session for 2010 is a Road Scholar service learning program about Maine Seabird Biology and Conservation scheduled for mid September. This program is sold out at 30 participants.

In total, the 165 participants represent a 92% occupancy. Campers this year came from 32 states plus New Brunswick. A total of 13 Audubon Chapters, garden clubs and ornithology groups sent a total of 32 campers on scholarship; 12 of the 15 teen campers received scholarships including two from the American Birding Association and four from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through a grant to the Audubon education Department. FOHI members also benefited by scholarship dollars, so that FOHI members could attend the instructional programs without cost.

We were very fortunate to have Chef Janii Laberge return to offer his fine cuisine.

Several partners helped Project Puffin make these sessions a success. Maine Audubon has continued to lend its help in getting the island ready for the summer, by reinstalling the water line, tending to the island generator, reinstalling the floats and ramps and servicing the sewage system. They were helped by staff from Camp Kieve, whose boat, the Snow Goose, transported participants. The program also benefited from the Cornell Hotel School whose faculty and students assisted marketing and evaluation.

None of the programs would have succeeded without the support of 32 FOHI members who signed on for one or more work sessions, donating a total of about 1,300 hours of work. FOHI helpers began getting the island ready during the third week of May and helped in two FOHI work sessions. This year they also assisted during each of the program weeks by helping in the kitchen, camp store and maintenance. This flurry of FOHI helpers scraped and painted trim on most of the buildings, revitalized island gardens, hung flower boxes on anything that stood still and most important: greeted the new participants with an enthusiastic welcome.

The team-building work on the Hog Island buildings, great food, and an extraordinary teaching team all contributed to the stellar scores received on the Cornell Hotel School’s evaluations. The Joy of Birding session received an overall approval rating of 4.82 out of 5 — only surpassed by the approval rating of 4.96 out of 5 for the Ornithology session!

A final FOHI week is scheduled for Sept 19-24 to prepare the buildings for the coming winter. There are still a few openings for helpers, so let us know if you are interested in helping. Food and lodging is free in trade for energetic workers. If you are interested in assisting, please contact

I am also very pleased that Jay Collier has offered to serve as publisher and designer for the new FOHI website and that Julie Seifert will serve as editor. The website will serve as the primary way for sharing Hog Island news.

Best wishes,

Steve Kress, Director, Project Puffin