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Gulf of Maine Times

Vol. 3, No. 4


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Council Currents

Council's anniversary events to include celebration of youth stewardship

Portsmouth, New Hampshire - At press time, the Gulf of Maine Council was planning its tenth anniversary celebrations, scheduled to begin at the Sheraton Harborside Portsmouth Hotel during the Council's semi- annual meeting, December 9-10.

Next summer, the Gulf of Maine Council will bring youth stewards together to compare notes and conduct a joint research project. Participants in the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve's student water quality monitoring program based in Wells, Maine, will be among the participants in the "Summer Institute." Among the events scheduled to take place at the meeting were a presentation of the Council's annual Visionary Awards and Art Longard Award; announcement of the recipients of $117,000 in implementation grants, which the Council awards to organizations around the Gulf working on efforts aligned with the Council's priority habitat goals; and a forum that will explore emerging issues in the Gulf of Maine.

Next summer, celebratory events will continue at the Council's June meeting in Portsmouth, where about 30 middle school and high school students from the Gulf of Maine region will share their environmental stewardship experiences. The Council is hosting the students to underscore the importance of youth education and participation in efforts to maintain and enhance the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.

The students will make presentations to the Council about their varied experiences. Some have collected, analyzed, and disseminated scientific Gulf of Maine data. Others have recorded oral histories that reconstruct the natural, social, and economic past as they relate to the watershed. Finally, the youth will work together on new hands-on research activities in the Gulf of Maine.

Organizers say the discussions, presentations, and research project are intended to encourage the students to consider themselves citizens of the Gulf of Maine watershed, and to collaborate across jurisdictional boundaries. "These young people will be building an international social network that will be a key to the long-term health of the Gulf," according to Council Member Jeffrey Taylor, also Director of New Hampshire's Office of State Planning.

The activities represent a collaboration between the Gulf of Maine Council and the Gulf of Maine Institute Without Walls in recognition of what both groups describe as the importance of youth involvement in environmental stewardship. According to an Institute Without Walls founder, John Terry, "Youth are our most valuable resource. They are the citizens, scientists, decision-makers, and cultural transmitters of tomorrow."

The Institute Without Walls is developing partnerships and educational initiatives between youth and adults that focus on sustainable stewardship of the rich and vulnerable biological region comprising the Gulf of Maine and its watershed. The Institute consists of one pilot project in each jurisdiction, though organizers plan to expand the Institute to include more projects in the future. Its design is based on the KIDS (Kids Involved Doing Service) Consortium educational model, created in 1990 through the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, and now a not-for-profit organization. The KIDS Model challenges youth to identify, research, design, and implement solutions to real-life problems in their communities.

The five projects that will be participating in the Summer Institute focus on the Muddy River in Boston, Massachusetts; the Cocheco River Watershed in New Hampshire; the Webhannet, Little, and Merriland River Watersheds in the Wells-Ogunquit area of Maine; the Eastern Charlotte Watershed in southwestern New Brunswick; and the Barrington and Tusket River watersheds in Nova Scotia.