June 22 – 28, 2018Vol. 20, No. 3

Training Future Lake Stewards

The Blauvelt Family from Farmington (L-R): Doug, Daniel, Temeeka, Alison, and Tyleek.

by Pete Kallin

Although according to the calendar summer has barely begun, it is already flying by with lots going on. This has been another busy week with lots of activities with the various groups I work with.

For the most part, the weather has been dry and a bit windy, good for getting in a bit of hiking. I spent one afternoon clearing some blowdowns on the Great Pond Loop of The Mountain Trail with fellow 7-Lakes Alliance (formerly the BRCA) Stewardship Committee volunteers, Peter Roderick and Andy Cook. The 7-LA Stewardship volunteers spend a lot of time and effort keeping the local trails in good shape. If you would like to help, please sign up with Mary Kerwood at the MLRC to get on our volunteer list. The work is actually a lot of fun and you will meet some interesting, dedicated people.

The day before, I had been hiking the trail and met the Blauvelt Family from Farmington. Doug Blauvelt is the Cubmaster for the local Cub Scout Pack and the Assistant Scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts. He was scouting the Mountain Trail for possible hikes with the Cubs, Boy Scouts, and the 4H Club of Farmington. They had hiked Mount Phillip in the past and wanted to look at some of the other trails in the area to do hikes of different lengths with various groups. Helping him in that task were Daniel (Cub Scouts and 4H), Tameeka (4H), Allison (4H), and Tyleek (Boy Scouts). As a group, the family kind of epitomized the theme of this column: taking kids outside to gain outdoor experience and knowledge. I look forward to seeing them out on our trails in the future.

Among the many hats I wear, I serve as the president of the board of the Maine Lakes Society, a state-wide nonprofit dedicated to protecting the health of Maine's lakes for future generations through science-based education, action, and policy. In addition to overseeing the LakeSmart Program for lake associations across Maine, we have a program called LakesAlive, designed to help train tomorrow's lake stewards.

This program includes a 30′ floating classroom, the Melinda Ann, that we use to take school students and other youth groups out on Maine lakes to give them some hands-on, experiential lake science, such as doing plankton tows and Secchi depth readings and learning to drive our video-equipped, remotely operated vehicle that allows them to inspect the depths of the lake. They also use a benthic dredge to capture critters and sediments from the bottom.

Academy Hill fourth graders on the Melinda Ann examine their "catch" from the benthic dredge on Wilson Lake.

Last week, sponsored by the Town of Wilton and Friends of Wilson Lake, Phil Mulville and I towed the Melinda Ann to Wilson Lake where we took nearly 40 fourth-grade students from Academy Hill School (RSU 9) out on three trips, teaching them a bit about watersheds and lake science. The kids had a ball and learned a lot. On the plankton tow, they captured a real-life Cyclops zooplankton like the one on Sponge Bob Square Pants!

This area offers some great outdoor recreation, whether you like to hike, bike, birdwatch, fish, sail, or paddle a canoe or kayak. Pick up a map of the local trails at Day's Store or from the 7-LA at the Maine Lakes Resource Center. (Check out the Belgrade Lakes Association's LakeSmart Program while you are there). Get out and explore! Sign your kids up to learn to sail through the Great Pond Yacht Club. Keep an eye on the sign in front of the MLRC and check the 7-LA website and Facebook page for further updates. And make sure you take a kid along on your next outdoor adventure!

Pete Kallin is a past director of the Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance, which merged with the Maine Lakes Resource Center in December 2017 to form the 7-Lakes Alliance.