For those with an interest in natural resources and conservation, Damariscotta River Association’s (DRA’s) Midcoast Stewards program offers a unique overview of natural resource topics relating to the midcoast area.
The 40-hour curriculum covers coastal ecology, Wabanaki culture, geologic history, sustainable fisheries management, seabird restoration, water quality monitoring, lake health, lobster biology, estuarine studies, and much more. The course finishes with a field trip to Monhegan Island for a natural history tour.
Coordinated by DRA and co-sponsored by the Maine Coastal Program, the program involves partnerships with many area conservation organizations as well as state agencies. Participants learn about natural and cultural history from a number of professionals in natural resource management fields. They also have the opportunity to network with others who share their interests. In turn, graduating Stewards commit to volunteering a minimum of 40 hours of service with a local conservation organization of their choice.
According to past participant Bob Barkalow, “The Midcoast Stewards program was an amazing experience, opening up to me the deep culture and history of the area, as well as the plants and animals that thrive in the Damariscotta estuary and beyond. The ‘classroom’ for most of the course was the outdoors, from Damariscotta Lake to a Washington gravel pit to Monhegan Island. A tremendous bargain that truly deepened my understanding and appreciation for the Midcoast environment.” Following the program, Barkalow began volunteering for DRA and went on to become a trustee of the organization.
This year, the Midcoast Stewards program will meet Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 to 8 p.m., starting April 9 and ending on May 28. There will be a few Saturday field trips from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..
Class format includes lectures and discussions as well as many field trips and hands-on experiences. Classes meet at the Heritage Center at DRA’s Great Salt Bay Farm in Damariscotta, and field trips will take the group to sites from Washington to South Bristol.
The application form is online at www.damariscottariver.org/events-programs/midcoast-stewards and is due by April 1. Space is limited to 20 participants. A materials fee of $100 for the 40-hour course is payable to the Damariscotta River Association. Limited scholarships are available.