Midcoast Stewards Graduate

By Sam Low


This article was published in a variety of Maine newspapers


They come from almost every walk of life. There is a famous chef, a retired banker, a journalist, a part-time walking guide for a famous art museum, a real estate broker, a quilter, a history teacher, a land developer, a book seller and even one who prefers to only mention previous “government work.” All of them have fallen in love with Maine and have committed to volunteer significant time to preserve the state's unique sense of place.


They spent every Tuesday and Thursday for five weeks studying midcoast Maine 's complex ecosystems. They toured woodlands, vernal ponds, wetlands, coastal beaches, rocky tide pools, a famous Maine farm and an alewife stream. They took water samples and learned to measure clarity, salinity, oxygen content and the presence of pollutants. They studied the habits of phytoplankton, lobsters, various shellfish, horseshoe crabs and a miscellany of anadromous fish. They now understand the difference between point source and nonpoint source pollution and know how to distinguish a “forever wild” conservation easement from an agricultural one. They understand the basic geological history of Maine and how it influences the fertility of the land and the behavior of the creatures that crawl and fly over it and swim in its waters. And as a result of all this they graduated on Thursday, May 22nd, as Midcoast Stewards – ready to take on multiple tasks designed to help preserve Maine 's natural bounty.


Those receiving their diplomas on Thursday are: Sam Low, Karin Swanson, Rose Jordan, Newcastle; Ruth Bontempo, Charles Hedrick, Peter Lawrence, Jack Corson, Nobleboro; Laura Billings, Matthew Filler, Rachael Wagaman, Damariscotta; Katie Schwarzenbach, Mark Umbach, Christine Tiffany, Islesboro; Jack Boak, Bristol; Bruce Wood, Southport; John Will, Pemaquid; Mary Berger, Bremen; Jean Brusila, Topsham; Hope Gould, New Harbor; Michael Pew, Alna; and Nancy Draut, Woolwich.


The Stewardship program is supported by a large group of local organizations - the Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association, Damariscotta River Association, Sheepscot Valley Conservation Association, Midcoast Audubon Society, Medomak Valley Land trust, Pemaquid Watershed Association, Darling marine Center, Boothbay Region Land Trust, the Morris Farm Trust and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension/Maine Sea Grant program. Each of these provides either financial assistance or teachers who contribute time to educate the stewards. In return, many of these organizations will receive stewards as volunteers to assist with their many programs.


Theresa Torrent-Ellis, senior planner for the Maine Coastal Program, Maine State Planning Office, is in overall charge of the program. Jessica Lincoln, an employee of Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, is the program's coordinator. The stewards program is sponsored by the Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, the Knox-Lincoln Office of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Program and the Maine Coastal Program - State Planning Office.


The Midcoast Stewards program is now in its third year and will once again solicit volunteers in the early Spring of 2004. Those interested should contact Jessica Lincoln at (207) 273-2005 extension 105.