The Season Begins with Good News

It was a bold step, when FOHI reconstituted itself in October 2010 and became a 501(c(3) nonprofit in March 2011. Not only did it become a nonprofit but it promised to raise funds to support the Hog Island Audubon Camp, provide it with volunteers throughout the season, write a business plan, preserve the legacy of the island, make an annual donation of $50,000, and raise $1 million dollars for the Hog Island endowment.

FOHI Goes Digital

HistoryIT team collect archives.

Ten years later, after having almost achieved its promises and hiring a volunteer coordinator to manage volunteers, it had one promise unfulfilled: preserving the legacy of Hog Island. In April 2019, FOHI took another bold step. Its board unanimously approved the president’s proposal to hire HistoryIT, a Maine-based company, to digitize the archival records of the camp and to make them available online, so they can be easily searched and explored.

After hearing the news, Dr. Kristen Gwinn-Becker, CEO of HistoryIT, expressed her great appreciation for FOHI’s commitment to preserve and share this important history. She commented, “The Friends of Hog Island have really made an investment in the future by ensuring that this history is not lost. This archival collection is rich with stories waiting to emerge. It is a powerful example of how much history is locked away at the local level, in need of organized efforts to save them. We at HistoryIT are very proud to be a part of saving this vital history from our home state.”

Hog Island’s history is a testament to the tenacity, resilience, perseverance, optimism, passion, and hard work of all those who have been touched by the island — from Mabel Loomis Todd who first saw it as she sailed by to you who are reading this, and to all who will come. FOHI is elated to preserve this rich history that can now reach new audiences, rekindle old friendships and memories, and encourage research. Rachel Carson, Mabel Loomis Todd, Millicent Todd Bingham, Bart Cadbury, James Baker, Duryea Morton, and so many others will be just a click away — no longer languishing in dusty closets and attics.

It is hoped that the archival website will be ready at the end of 2019 as a fitting 10th anniversary commemoration for FOHI as a nonprofit.

FOHI Volunteers Open the Camp

Front row: Mike, Juanita, Lorrie, Helen, Kathy, Sue, Lucie, Kathy, Mei Ling. Second row: Maggie, Gary, Mary, David, Lisa, Kate, Lane. Third row: Mike, Rosemary, Justin, Linda, Joel, Pete. Back row: Peggy, Ching, Sue, Cassandra, Tom, Tony, volunteer coordinator, Nancy, Tony, Martha, and Ben. Absent: Charlie and Russell.
Finished tables and walkway.

Monday, May 13 found 40 FOHI volunteers arriving at the camp from far and wide, including a gathering of the Cadbury and Wong clan, 14 in all! It didn’t take long for everyone to roll up their sleeves, locate the To-Do Ta-Da board, choose their tasks and like whirlwinds they were off and running, not even unpacking their bags! The sun shone and all was good.

In four and a half days, they dismantled the old and built a new deck on The Helm, helped rebuild the staff dock; load and unload lumber and granite tabletops each weighing almost 900 lbs; paint buildings as needed interior and exterior; glaze windows; build shelves; fix plumbing; install two new gardens; lay stone walkways; unpack specimens; mop and sweep all buildings; hang curtains; put together a drying cabinet; help clean the kitchen and prepare meals and clean-up afterward; put in the tide marker; unpack the store inventory; plant trees; and much more. The cold, wind, and rain did not dampen their spirits!

Julie Dobrow in the Fish House

A last-minute treat was a presentation Monday evening by Julie Dobrow, author of After Emily, which tells of Mable Loomis Todd, Millicent Todd Bingham and Emily Dickinson. Julie’s presentation kept everyone engaged with photos, stories, and insights. She received a  rousing round of applause.

But the best is last. The workweek ended with a proposal of marriage and an acceptance — champagne flowed and laughter filled the air. What better way to start the Hog Island Camp season with promise of new life and vows.

Thank you all for making so much happen, volunteers and staff!

Check out the sessions offered this season at camp; some still have spots open, but they won’t be for long! There are also a few volunteer slots open. Always put your name on a waitlist. Stuff happens and people have to cancel! See you at camp.



Spring Equinox is Just Around the Corner!

Oh, the joys of the spring equinox here in Maine — shorter nights, longer days, bulbs bursting through the semi-frozen ground, the landscape turning apple green as new leaves begin to unfurl.

FOHIs hauling boulders for the mystery project!

The same is true with Hog Island, except it means taking off the winter cloak and putting on our summer’s finest — painting, dusting, repairing. planting the garden, and more. It also means exciting new programs and beloved traditional ones; new instructors and tried-and-true ones; and the same staff returning to greet you.

The programs have been filling up rapidly but spots still remain in a number of sessions. Come see ospreys up close and being banded at Rapture Raptor; join Doug Tallamy at Creating Bird-Friendly Habitats;  Scott Weidensaul for fall migration at Monhegan Island; or Holly Merker and Pete Dunne at Joy of Birding.  Visit Hog Island’s website for a full description of programs offered and the instructors for each session. Can’t make it to camp, then take Raptor Rapture online!

FOHI Update

FOHI volunteers signed up really early. Now only Family Camps I and II have a few spaces left.  Because cancellations are usual, don’t hesitate to put yourself down on the waitlist.  Who knows, you might get an e-mail from Tony asking if you can make it! Sign-up today.

FOHIs rock and give a thumbs up for Women’s History Month!

FOHI’s annual newsletter is finally available. It’s a wrap-up of 2018 and tells of things to come. In other FOHI news, the play Woman of the World by playwright Rebecca Gilman, former camper and Artist in Residence, will be coming to off Broadway this fall with Kathleen Chalfant. To see more about this play, see a previous FOHI post “Change is in the Air.

FOHI welcomes three board members and bids farewell to another. Sally Jeffords and Scott Weidensaul rotated off the board for a year and have agreed to sign up again for another stint. FOHI volunteer Jonathan “JB” Smith also agreed to sign on for the voyage. Loree Niola had to resign but remains committed to FOHI and the island and helps as she can. We wish her well and thank her for her dedication to everything FOHI.

Parting Thought

In August 1956, the camp’s 20th anniversary, Millicent Todd Bingham addressed the campers of that season’s final session. The following is an excerpt.

You have felt the miracle of the living wilderness. The more you know, the more you wonder. And the more you wonder, the more you care. Here in this place you have been among those who care, who are teaching others to care . . .

These words are as true today as they were then. FOHI volunteers and Hog Island staff, and instructors care deeply about the island, its living wilderness, and about your experience while on it. We will make your time on the island last a lifetime.

Zoom. . . there goes another year!

Yes, that’s right zoom! When you’re having fun, time flies. The 2018 season at Hog Island was just that – educational, lots of work, and fun, with lots of new and returning campers. It was filled to 87 percent capacity! Registration opened for the 2019 season in October and slots are being filled right and left.

On this Thanksgiving Day, FOHI has so much for which to be thankful. Not least are our volunteers. They gave again almost 6,000 hours of time during the sessions, opening and closing weeks, and throughout the other times of the year. Volunteer slots for the 2018 sessions were filled well in advance. The same is happening for 2019 –  like registration for the camp, volunteers are rapidly signing up for their favorite volunteer stint. Many sign up for more than one week. In 2018,  the longest was the whole season, the next was five weeks at one time. So, you see, volunteers love the island. Plan your summer – be a volunteer, a camper, or both! Bring your friends and family. Find the balance between fun, work, and giving.

FOHI is excited about two new books about Hog Island. The first was published by Norton in October 2018,   After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America’s Greatest Poet, by Julie Dubrow, Tufts University.  Julie was the speaker at the 80th Anniversary Celebration of Hog Island in 2016; FOHI published her address at the 80th. The second is Nature’s People: The Hog Island Story from Mabel Loomis Todd to Audubon, by Tom Schaefer, a former camper and FOHI board member. During his Artist-in Residency at Hog Island he also produced a book of poems: A Forest of Ferns. Nature’s People is scheduled for late 2019.

FOHI is also excited about the generosity of our donors too. Without them we would not have had the funds to hire in 2018 our first employee, a volunteer coordinator, which was needed with the growth of our volunteer team; this was thanks to two-year funding by a donor. We have also just received notice of a $10,000 match for a new work boat. With the increased volunteers, staff, food, materials and so much more, another work boat is essential to the continued efficiency of the island. Volunteers were surprised and thrilled with the new washer and dryer funded by another donor to replace the failing old ones.

This is just a smattering of FOHI’s work at the camp, not to mention the planting and maintenance of the garden beds with the help of the Old Bristol Garden Club each week.

Enjoy the spirit of Thanksgiving knowing that each of you in your own way enables Friends of Hog Island and the camp to flourish.





Change is in the Air

Spring in Bremen is desperately trying to get a foothold. Snowdrops, crocus, daffodils and many other harbingers of spring are popping up only to be blanketed with snow again, but the birds know it’s spring!

The Search is Over

An intrepid FOHI volunteer coordinator has been selected from among a fine line-up of applicants: Tony Ferrara. Tony was a camper on the island in 2016 and 2017, attending Raptor Rapture and Field Ornithology sessions. He worked as a web and database professional, and will be retiring from this career in April to pursue his passion for the mission of Hog Island. He and his wife Cheryl will be moving to Maine from Florida after his retirement.

Tony was a volunteer beach steward on Marco Island, Florida, for many years, and served as the volunteer coordinator for that program. The beach stewards keep the beach clean, protect birds and other wildlife, and engage with tourists and residents to make the beach a safe and enjoyable place for everyone. Tony also served on the Beach Advisory Committee for the City of Marco Isla

He is an avid birder and also enjoys photography, making music, hiking, cycling and skiing. He is looking forward to contributing to the FOHI operation supporting the great work that is done at the Hog Island Audubon Camp and Project Puffin. FOHI is looking forward to working with him. Welcome to the FOHI team, Tony!

New York, New York

Juanita Roushdy, Kathleen Chalfant, Tiffany Huenefeldt, Rebecca Gilman, and Valentina Fratti.

On March 20, a few die-hard FOHIs were in New York City to see the reading of Woman of the World, by Rebecca Gilman, as part of the Miranda Theater’s First Annual Liz Smith Reading Series. The reading performed by the legendary Kathleen Chalfant brought the audience to their feet. The reading and the play—about Mabel Loomis Todd’s complex life as Emily Dickinson’s posthumous editor and rescuer of Hog Island—ignited a new interest in the Hog Island Audubon Camp and FOHI’s work. Rebecca is a professor of playwriting and screenwriting at Northwestern University, an artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre, and a birdwatcher. She is a former camper at Hog Island and it’s first Artist in Residence. FOHI had sponsored an earlier iteration of the play that had been performed at Hog Island.

What Else is Popping Up?

FOHI’s 2017-18 year-end news is out, so you can catch up on latest figures and happenings. Camp registration is at 82 percent, so check out the sessions and find one right for you. FOHI volunteers were the early birds this year, filling up most of the volunteer slots by February! But don’t despair, we still have two sessions in August that need volunteers and cancellations always happen, so put your name on the wait list even though it may say full! Also welcome, Anthony Pizzarello to the Hog Island team as co-chef. He and Kristi Bokros will be sharing the chef position.  The Hog Island team and FOHI are already chomping at the bit with excitement about the new season.

See you on the island!