Stephanie & Justin are Here for the Summer

We take our tagline “Tidepools, Gardens, Goats and Honeybees” literally…we want them all to flourish here under our stewardship of these 40 oceanfront acres.  Gardening has been a family passion for years and we’re proud to offer guests the opportunity to dig in the dirt and harvest fresh greens and tomatoes while they’re camping.  A couple of years ago “pumped up” our arts and craft program by building the art studio and instituting the artist in residency program to give guests  the pleasure of working with passionate artists to explore painting, weaving, blacksmithing and a myriad of other hands on creative endeavors.  This year we’ve invited two Marine Biology students to share their passion for the ocean by living and working here this summer.  They’ll earn academic credit and spending money by initiating an educational program for campers and making the wonders of the Bay available to all of us.  A component of their academic commitment will be to keep a weekly journal of their months here.  Please join us in welcoming Stephanie and Justin to our world.

Stephanie & Justin...
Stephanie & Justin…

Hi my name is Stephanie Alley and I’m one of the interns for the summer. Being a military brat I’ve traveled to many places, but my family settled down in Brewer, Maine. There are two sides to me, the Filipino and the “mainah”, and I embrace both cultures. I’m currently a senior at Unity College with a major in marine biology and a minor in zoology. I love marine biology because there is so much to discover in the ocean. The ocean is full of diversity and mystery. I’m a down-to-earth girl who is ready to have a great summer, and love the thought of teaching children and their families about the ways of the ocean.

Hello my name is Justin Kirkland; I currently graduated from Unity College with a bachelor in Marine Science. Unlike Stephanie I am not from the New England area but in fact from California (I’m the friendliest, most outgoing person you’ll meet from California). Between the two states I must say I am in love with Maine. The starlight and Atlantic Ocean are unlike anything I am use to. I’m glad to be working here this summer and getting to know more about the eastern coast and its many marine organisms. Feel free to approach me if you have any questions about the ocean and I will do my best to answer or find one for you.

The Brick House in Searsport
The Brick House in Searsport

Our first week consisted of rain and cold wind, so for Justin and my first day we met in the front office where Astrig was waiting with the idea to put together Information sheets for the lamb and goats. After a few hours of intensive research, Lou suggested we eat at the Brick House for lunch. We both had delicious burgers, but the Maine grown French fries were what made the meal a full success. When we returned back to the camp ground, we began working in the gardens, learning how Steven and Astrig plot their fresh greens. It was a short day because the weather wasn’t conducive to outside work.

Who knew we'd need painting skills?
Who knew we’d need painting skills?

On the second day we met in the rec room, where Justin started the morning fire, while I was briefed on what the day would consist of. Our first task was to prime the mirror frames for the bathroom once they were cut and sanded. While they were being prepped, Justin went to the site where the two new micro-cabins where being built, to dig up and replant the fiddlehead ferns that were near and under the cabin foundations. Once Justin got back from the cabin site, the frames were ready to go. After we finished with the primer, we got the rest of the day to ourselves so we continued moving into our temporary home, The Carriage House Inn. We learned that The Carriage House is part of Searsport’s shipbuilding and cargo handling history. This town was home to famous sea captains in the mid 1800’s, which one of which built the house we’re living in right now.

Clean up on Ocean tent site #6
Clean up on Ocean tent site #6

Starting at 10 o’clock the next morning, Steven gave us sand paper and paint to finish up the mirror frames. We walked over to the outdoor tenting and tried to get a fire started at site 6, which over looked the bay. While walking to the location, we could tell the stream was high because of the harsh sound of rushing water. However, we couldn’t see much in front of us due to the dense fog. The wind and mist made it difficult for us to start the fire. Since everything I tried failed, I began to picking up the twigs around the tent sites, a few minutes later Justin magically got the fire going with tiny bits of paper and miniscule twigs. After a couple of hours, Steven drives up in a golf cart to steal me away. When we arrived at the front office, the store was being put together, which brings me to my task at hand. Astrig told me to go to the studio to retrieve pool noodles, clear boxing tape, hot glue gun, and plastic wrap. The whole time I was wondering, “What the heck am I going to do with this?” I had to make lollipops out of the materials, which they will be used to attract attention to the candy. For about 2 or so hours I wrestled with those things. Every time I thought I got it to stay in place; it would uncoil and smack me in the face.  Justin came to the rescue by holding everything together as I taped like crazy.

IMG_0948
The very beginnings of the micro-cabin community

Friday we came in and continued with the lollipops. Since two were already started it seemed like a breeze. Once we got the noodles to stick. We dressed them up in plastic wrap, and then Steven used a paddle drill bit to create a small circular hole to insert PVC piping to act like a stick. We were given wax and cleaning rags to buff the pipes so they’d shine. Once complete we displayed the lollipops in the front office next to the candy section to give it more flair. While in the office setting up the lollipops; we met a senior in high school named Jordon. He was getting the help of Steven and a few employees for his senior project, a trebuchet. We spent most of the day on Friday setting up the base of the structure. In fact we actually made the base larger than what was anticipated because Steven insisted that we use a longer throwing arm. This will give it the perfect counter balance to throw farther. By the time we marked, trimmed, and connected the four 2X4 to fit into two separate 4X4 it was time to take our leave.

IMG_0959
There’s a trick to 3 foot lollipops…just ask Stephanie 😉

Saturday we continued building the trebuchet till our friends Matt and Jeff arrived. We took them out to lunch and walked up and down the coast looking in between rocks for invertebrates that are not common to the area. Due to the weather we were only able to stay out for a short period of time before going back home.

We arrived Sunday and Stephanie started the morning fire. As she was doing that Steven walked in and asked if we could meet up at two o’clock and take the campers out to the tides and look for marine life.  The request came because of the work we had done with 3 young boys yesterday identifying the rock eels and gill fish they had caught in the tide pools.  We spent some time explaining a bit about their habits and characteristics. Their enthusiastic response encouraged us to learn more about the specimens ourselves.

In the rain we walked to the shore with a little boy named Vinnie (our eel boys were too busy exploring the stream to join us) but Vinnie was full of energy and ready to learn. At the beach we noticed that the tide was actually coming in and almost at high tide. We decided to go out looking anyway. While out there we found three invasive green crabs and a couple different colored periwinkles. Vinnie found some sea glass and a decent size lobster griping claw. We explained to him why we would not find most organisms due to the tide and poor weather. On the way back Stephanie was stopped by a young girl named Heather. She asked her a few questions on marine biology and her choices of schools including Unity. As we were leaving the Coast side we could notice that the tide was indeed receding. We told everyone that we would be in the Rec room drying off for about 2 hours then would go back out to look if the campers wanted too. When 2 hours passed, it seemed like the interest was lost due to the poor weather and families going out to eat.

Painting, gardening, tide pools and retail merchandising
Painting, gardening, tide pools and retail merchandising

Our first week was a success. We are gradually learning the ropes of the camp ground, and as the weather improves so we can get familiar with Penobscot Bay. We want to explore the diversity of Searsport’s shores. We were told the blue muscles are slowly disappearing. Justin and I had also observed the low abundance every time we walked among the rocks. Therefore, this summer I want to investigate this further and maybe find a way to fix it. Justin on wants to experience clam flats. He wonders if the current pH levels of the ocean are approaching the clams’ threshold. This summer our experiments and research will answer questions and probably raise more to discuss with our professors in the Fall. We will learn how to live a more sustainable life, by growing our own vegetables, and using the ocean’s resources. We also want to develop leadership skills and become better team members.

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