By Tom Adamo, V.P. Bagaduce Watershed Association
Councilor Climate Action Net
The research literature in Environmental Psychology states that exposure to and positive experience with the natural world influences the values and attitudes of those exposed. * The Bagaduce Watershed Association believes that people who know the river and its watershed are its best stewards.
It is with this in mind that the Bagaduce Watershed Association launched two pilot projects of transporting local elementary school students on boat trips up the Bagaduce River.
On June 5, 2023 BWA was pleased to organize a boat trip for third and fourth graders from Penobscot Community School, The students braved the cold weather on that day for a Bagaduce River experience! The trip, organized by BWA Board Member John Boit, began at Maine Maritime Academy where the students participated in tin foil boat building exercises led by the academy’s admissions department staff member, Ross Cottrell.
They then headed to the dock where they met Capt. Zander Parker, of the vessel Li’l Toot, the boat whose red and white top is a summertime fixture in Castine. Once on board Li’l Toot, with John Boit and teacher Darcy Currier, the students traveled from Castine, up through the Narrows, into Northern Bay for a firsthand experience on the water. Despite the chilly weather, the students had a great time and saw plenty of wildlife, like seals and Bald eagles, while also learning about the Native American history of the region and how the Bagaduce was used as a major transportation route long before Europeans arrived in Maine. Penobscot resident Bailey Bowden, who has been instrumental in the return of alwewives to the Bagaduce, was also on board and provided students with ecological and historical perspectives of the river.
Again, on October 23, 2023, fourteen 7/8th grade Penobscot Community School students, their teacher Michelle Charette, Ed Tech Debbie Buesse, School Bus driver Gretchen Pemberton and Bagaduce Watershed board members Tom Adamo and Wendy Rapp traveled up the Bagaduce River on Maine Maritime Academy’s Navigation Training vessel,Susan B. Clark. The vessel was named to honor the first woman Captain of an American Flagged oil tanker. Susan graduated from MMA. This excursion was the first to be co-sponsored by BWA and MMA. The river trip was designed to introduce students to an on-water experience of the Bagaduce River with a brief campus tour of MMA. The day began with a presentation to academic and social life at Maine Maritime Academy. We visited the woodshop where MMA students construct half-models of sail boats designed by Joel White of Brooklin Boatyard. The students also visited a diesel lab where they could view half-models of actual ships’ engines.
Next, we all boarded the Susan B. Clark and traveled up the Bagaduce River from Castine to Seal Harbor Marine. BWA Board members spoke briefly about the river and its Wabanaki history. The indigenous name for the river is Majabigwaduce which, in the language of the Micmac people who named it, means “big tideway river.” There was also discussion about the birdlife, fish species and an opportunity to view the chart plotters at the six navigation tables. Capt. Finn Welch then turned the boat back toward Castine to the currents and confused seas of the confluence of the Bagaduce and Penobscot Rivers. Finally, we were treated to lunch on the MMA mess deck, followed by a brief tour of a dormitory.
Despite the cool Fall weather, the students and adults all loved the exposure to the river and getting to know MMA a bit better.
BWA thanks the PCS administration and its teaching staff for their presence and support. Additionally,thanks to the staff of MMA for the use of their vessel, their staff and campus. Thanks to Lil Toot, as well.
BWA hopes to offer additional river trips to both elementary school and high school students on the Peninsula beginning in the spring of 2024.
BWA is actively seeking funds to support these trips.