Vinalhaven Land Trust works to reach every student in every grade with at least one place-based environmental education program or activity each year. We introduce students to different field sciences through field trips with working scientists, using our preserves and the island’s natural resources as the classroom. In particular, we work with the curriculum needs and particular interests of teachers and students to complement and deepen their understanding of Vinalhaven ecosystems and natural communities.



Winter 2016-2017 Environmental Ed

The dropping temperatures and stormy skies don’t keep our school programs from getting outside and learning with nature. The Land Trust’s brand new scallop program sponsors scientists from The Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership to visit the school once a month and develop a scallop aquaculture program with middle and high school students. The students’ scallop nursery, located at the Vinalhaven Fisherman’s Co-op, is part of a project tied to research being conducted on Hurricane Island in Penobscot Bay. Each class has its own batch of scallops, numbered and named, to observe and track over the school year. This is an opportunity for students to learn about aquaculture as a viable industry and scallops as an interesting local critter.

Fall 2016 Environmental Ed

Fall in Maine just might be the best time for outdoor learning. The VLT’s environmental education programs helped whole classrooms of kids at the Vinalhaven School do just that. From overnight expeditions off island to guided excursions on our own trails, students enjoyed the benefits of fresh air and exercise while gaining valuable insight and appreciation into their resources and environment.


In September, the eighth graders climbed Mount Katahdin and learned to appreciate the comforts of home after camping in Baxter State Park. Though the peaks in Baxter might dwarf our mountains on Vinalhaven, students gained skills and experiences that will encourage further exploration of VLT lands.

Geologist George Kendrick guided the seventh and eighth graders on a trip to Lane’s Island and Tiptoe Mountain in October, where he taught how plate tectonic and volcanic action led to the formation of Vinalhaven as we know it.

The VLT also sponsored an overnight trip for Vinalhaven fifth and sixth graders at the University of Maine’s Learning Center at Tanglewood, an outdoors education program in Lincolnville. Tanglewood’s open air classrooms immersed students in outdoor adventures to help develop life skills, community spirit, and an awareness of their connection to nature.

Story Trail Open! Summer 2016

What could be more fun than reading while spending time in nature? Bring your children, grandchildren, or just yourself to the Granite Island Trail and enjoy a family-friendly hike down to the shores of the Basin, while enjoying a favorite oversized picture book for children.

This collaborative effort between Vinalhaven Land Trust and Vinalhaven Reads (a group formed to help raise the reading and literacy skills of students at Vinalhaven School), will periodically change the book. To date, the installation has featured The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown, and currently is showing Little Beaver and the Echo by Amy MacDonald. As one walks the trail, a new page comes into view, magically affixed to a moss covered rock, coming to a perfect conclusion as you and your companions reach the shoreline.

It’s hard to beat: fostering a love of reading and encouraging children and their caregivers to spend time in nature. What will be next? You’ll have to visit to find out… location 2C on our preserve map.

Spring 2016 Environmental Ed

Spring means our environmental education programs are gearing up! Grades 3-4-5 recently spent a glorious sunny day on Tip Toe Mountain Preserve with MCHT Steward Kirk Gentalen. A hike through the mossy woods led out to the beach, strewn with rhyolite, those striped and banded rocks that are found on the north end of Vinalhaven. Through a fun interactive game, students learned the basics of plate tectonics and volcanic action that led to this rock formation. Such fun to hear one student yelling "Avalonia!" and another yelling back "Laurentia!" while acting out (with paper plates!) the slow collision of continents.

Students learned about habitats, and found or created their own (for real or imagined animals). They flagged areas for food, water, shelter, and "leisure time" and shared their habitats with classmates. The kids had brought along nature journals, and took some time to find a spot to settle in and draw, write poems, or note memories of the day. And no outing in the woods is complete without a few rousing games of camouflage, with kids scattering in the woods to hide in plain sight, as the animals do.

VLT loves sponsoring these outings, getting kids out to the trails and hidden beaches that they might not be familiar with yet, and helping them form their own connections to nature.

Grades K-2 to Perry Creek - Spring 2016

Every fall, the youngest students head up to Perry Creek for an autumn stroll. Often a teacher from Tanglewood comes to lead the children in some exploratory games.

Blind Man's Bluff

Grades 3-5 to Fox Rocks - Fall 2015

3-4-5 at Fox Rocks

Grade 8 to Baxter State Park - Fall 2015

Chimney Pond From a student - "The view at Chimney Pond is incredible—it felt like we were being swallowed up by the mountain." 


VSC Makes "Vital" Contribution In Fight Against Winter Moth

The Vital Signs Club was busy monitoring Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata) last November and December. In 2012, the club members had done their best to band as many trees as they possibly could. This year, they learned from Charlene Donahue, Maine State Entomologist, and Joe Elkinton, entomologist and researcher at UMass Amherst, that banding trees was a good idea for tracking the spread of Winter Moth, but not particularly helpful in reducing its population. They did band a few trees in areas of the island where they weren’t sure if winter moth was yet present. They also worked on a project for Joe Elkinton. On a visit to Vinalhaven last summer, he had asked the club if they would assist him in getting an estimate of the winter moth population on Vinalhaven to help assess if a parasitic fly release (to control the moth population) would be feasible. They put up a pheromone trap to capture male moths. With VLT board member Chuck Gadzik’s help, they collected all the male winter moths and sent them to Joe’s lab. They also put up two special tree bands (different than the Tanglefoot tree bands you saw last year) to assess the number of females in the area. The Vital Signs crew visited these bands every few days until it got too cold, and sent the numbers to Joe. This spring they watched closely the color of winter moth eggs, as they change from pink to blue just before they hatch. They also counted the number of early istars (a stage in the life of an insect between two successive molts) on each bud and sending that information to Joe. The results showed that a release of the parasitic fly would be useful, and so it happened on May 21. Of course the club was on hand to assist with the release.