Students Learn Stewardship at GOMI Conference

August 31, 2010


While most students began their summers with trips to the beach and amusement parks, as a member of the Concord Youth Environmental (Y.E.S.) Team, I was presented with the diverse educational opportunity to attend the 10th annual Gulf of Maine Institute (GOMI) Conference from June 29 to July 5.

GOMI works to inspire a community in which students and adults alike, can work together to promote the stewardship of the encompassing Gulf of Maine watershed through local, regional, and international scientific and civil engagement. The comprehensive workshop was held in Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, and united environmentally focused youth organizations from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Brunswick, and the host Province, Nova Scotia, to discuss their efforts from the past year and work together to explore and report on environmental concerns in Canada.

Warren Paton guiding a group from the GOMI conference through the Whispering Woods during a visit to his planned conservation area. Photo courtesy Deandra Perruccio.

These teams, while hundreds of miles apart, are cohesively linked as they live within the Gulf of Maine watershed, which extends from Massachusetts to Quebec and encompasses approximately 69,000 square miles. Following the motto of GOMI, “Act locally, think bioregionally,” each team presented the work they had engaged in over the past year.

The YES Team along the Merrimack River at the GOMI conference this summer. Photo courtesy of Deandra Perruccio.

The Y.E.S. team spoke of their commitment throughout the school year to encouraging composting, organizing school supply recycling drives, and collecting hair for oil spill restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, they discussed the work of the summer team which includes, trail work, efforts with the Karner Blue Butterfly Refuge, electrofishing for Brook Trout, habitat restoration, invasive species removal, and recycling efforts. The team inspired the other environmental organizations and, likewise, was encouraged by the work of their peers; thus sparking an atmosphere in which the international youth worked together to formulate future plans for environmental advocacy.

Amid a climate change presentation, historical tours, geocaching, a talent show, and a Canada vs. U.S.A. ‘Jeopardy’ game, the participants embarked upon “theme team” projects that explored the Canadian environment through data analysis, artistic expression, and field work. Projects varied from investigating a freshwater marsh to studying an old growth Acadian Forest, as well as examining a riparian buffer zone with threatened turtles, engaging in water quality testing, focusing on river restoration, and interpreting the environment through photography and art.

Bridget Tevnan.

Finally, each team presented its findings, concerns, and suggestions to a panel of local community members, thus emulating a situation in which the youth would exhibit information to representatives in their own towns. The students relished in the opportunity to practice public speaking and each attested to the value of being able to eloquently and persuasively voice their opinion of environmental issues. Undoubtedly, the team returned with a greater understanding of the manner in which we are all linked to the environment, gained insight into the importance of raising public awareness, and made important connections and friendships that will strengthen environmental stewardship throughout the Gulf of Maine.

Bridget Tevnan, 18, of Boscawen, New Hampshire, is a student at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, majoring in Environmental Science.


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