There’s always a rainbow at Hog Island

Juanita helps clear debris from Eastern Egg Rock during September service session

Do you remember being at Audubon camp on Hog Island for the first time and hearing a strange word dropped into conversations and introductions – “fowee” “fohigh”. What did it mean? At the end of the session, you realized it was one of those delightful acronyms, which have become part of our lexicon, meaning Friends of Hog Island (FOHI).

Do you remember, too, how when you left you were eager to continue receiving news about an island that held special meaning and made you smile when you thought about it?

Well, we have good news! Friends of Hog Island formally formed in 1998 will shortly become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group. You will be able to support your beloved island and buildings directly. Friends once again have heeded the call to assure Hog Island’s future.

The recent Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) service program at Hog and the subsequent FOHI workweek to close up the camp produced fertile discussion and positive actions. Concerned over the closing of the camp in 2009 owing to lack of funds, the participants and FOHI sought positive solutions and came up with reconstituting FOHI as a 501(c)(3) with the goal of providing an annual supplementary income stream for the camp.

A board is currently being formed with Juanita Roushdy, a FOHI who moved from North Carolina to just up the road from Hog Island, as President; Kenn Kaufman, noted author and Hog Island instructor, Scott Weidensaul, Hog Island instructor, nature writer, and dedicated FOHI; Steve Kress, Director of Project Puffin and the person responsible for the cost-covering programs this year; David Klinger, a former president of FOHI and long-time friend of Hog; Gaye Phillips, another dedicated and long-time FOHI who comes each year from Dallas Texas with her husband, Robert, for the FOHI work weeks.

Now that’s good news! So, here is some more.

Where do FOHI’s get their energy? This is a question asked by many. September 19-24 was the first-ever FOHI workweek to close up the camp, and energy surged.

In 5 days, 16 FOHIs stripped beds, washed linens; vacuumed and swept all buildings; put away furniture; scraped and painted outdoor trim; glazed windows; primed and painted the new rooms in the Crow’s Nest; removed screens on all buildings; put up winter shutters; and completed a myriad other winterizing tasks., including kitchen duties.

But perhaps the most gratifying and most demanding task was removing and cutting up a gargantuan pile of lobster traps and other marine debris from Eastern Egg Rock. Sally Sanderson, a FOHI volunteer, upon seeing the pile on the rocks thought to herself, “there’s no way we’re going to be able to remove all of that in one trip.” Three hours later, 7 FOHIs and Eric and Sue’s Herculean efforts in rowing the trash-laden dory back and forth had cleared the island and left it once again ready for next year’s nesting.

Although we didn’t see a rainbow during the workweek, the good humor and beaming smiles made up for it.

Keep an eye out for more news of FOHI as it moves forward and be part of this wonderful energy that the Audubon Camp at Hog Island nurtures.

Juanita is a full-time resident of Bremen, ME and lives just up the road from Hog Island. She is currently on the board of Audubon North Carolina and founded and was president of the Cape Fear Audubon Society in Wilmington, NC. During her professional career she was Senior Editor and later Director of Community Relations at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C. She’s an active volunteer, birder, and conservationist.

A choice determined long ago

To employ the vehicle of planned giving to benefit a special place in Maine was a decision in which I had no choice and precious little say — because my gift was determined long before I arrived on the scene.

My gift was determined one summer day in 1908 when Mabel Loomis Todd, sailing Muscongus Bay with her husband, David Todd, first saw Hog Island and endeavored to buy it to safeguard its spruce and fir forests.

My choice was renewed in New York City on a spring afternoon in 1935, when Mrs. Todd’s daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham, enlisted the support of the venerable National Audubon Society in creating a nature camp for adults on Hog Island — a radical concept in depression-era America, but one that opened with acclaim the following year, and has endured for nearly 70 successive summers, now under Maine Audubon’s direction.

My decision was endorsed on an August morning in 1960, when Rachel Carson and other midcoast neighbors joined Mrs. Bingham to witness her donation of Hog Island to Audubon as the Todd Wildlife Sanctuary. “Those of us whose business it is to study the American landscape … know the rarity and value of such areas,” Yale University’s Paul Sears said at that little ceremony alongside a Hog Island path. “Natural areas do not, like jewels or precious metal, remain firmly constant in amount while the generations of man increase. Instead, their abundance, size and condition change inversely in relation to human numbers.”

For me, planned giving is much like the planting of tulip bulbs before the onset of winter — the ultimate expression of faith in better things to come in spring.

Of what good — what lasting import, now — are the words and gifts of these people, without me as the living instrument of their will? In whom does the stewardship of their legacy reside, if not in me and others, compelled by posterity to make good on their initial down payment toward the common good?

For me, giving is an obligation — one cheerfully undertaken, but an obligation nonetheless, to predecessors I never knew and to successors I will never meet. It is an optimistic endorsement of all that has come before me, and all that will follow. For me, planned giving is much like the planting of tulip bulbs before the onset of winter — the ultimate expression of faith in better things to come in spring.

Maine Audubon has given me the choice of participation and involvement, as it has to all who seek to contribute to its mission of conserving Maine’s wildlife and habitat through its varied programs and activities.

But, in reality, I have no choice at all, if I am to remain true to everything that took place before I first trod down a Hog Island trail.

For even though my future bequests to Maine Audubon’s Audubon Camp at Hog Island was arrived at willingly and lovingly, its genesis was predetermined … and the consequences of my action remain a hostage to posterity.

David Klinger is president of Friends of Hog Island. He lives in rural West Virginia, and dreams of Maine.

Photo: Ryan Hagerty

2004 Work and Learn Week (4/04)

Yes, there’s going to be a “Friends of Hog Island” work week in 2004, and you’re invited! We’ll be gathering June 13-18 for another round of fellowship, good times, and some fulfilling pre-season work in behalf of the Audubon Camp in Maine. This year, our session will be a bit more “bare bones” than in previous summers, with a more modest array of “learning” sessions during the week and perhaps a few more chores for us around meal time … but your cost will only be $400, a substantial savings over 2003! After a long, hard winter, won’t it be good to get back to Hog Island in the warm June sunshine?

And this year you’re in for a special treat — on Wednesday June 16, we’ll be staging a gala “Fish House” production of “A Sense of Wonder” (based on the life of author and Hog Island supporter Rachel Carson), starring Broadway and television actress Kaiulani Lee. This may just be Hog Island’s first major theatrical event, and we’ll be inviting our local friends and neighbors to join us for an evening of fine food and theatre in this one-time special evening fund-raiser for Hog Island.

The best part of the deal is that your registration for the FOHI week guarantees you a ticket at no additional cost!

Take a peek at what Bates College recently had to say about “A Sense of Wonder” and Miss Lee’s moving performance.

We’ll be saving you a seat on the aisle this June!

Come join us for the “Friends of Hog Island” work week this summer!

The Future of Hog Island

Summer 2003 Youth Camp

David Klinger represented the “Friends of Hog Island” at the first meeting of the Hog Island Strategic Planning Committee at Maine Audubon Society headquarters in Falmouth on January 19.

The panel of Maine and National Audubon employees, Maine Audubon board members, other camp directors in mid-coast Maine, and Keene Neck Road neighbors will craft a common vision and strategic plan for the Audubon Camp in Maine over the next three months which will position the program for long-term success, particularly as Maine Audubon begins to launch its capital campaign. Watch the FOHI Web site for updates about this important effort in 2004.