2022: My Words of the Year

There’s a two-panel door in my kitchen that leads to the basement.  It’s nothing fancy, but it’s the first place family members look when they come into the house.  Why?  I painted the top panel with chalkboard paint and regularly embellish it for the latest family news or celebration.  Adorned with drawings and words, it’s always colorful and festive, and dad jokes notwithstanding, it always serves as a great conversation starter for any gathering of friends or family.  For each new year, my wife and I use that chalkboard to write down several “words of the year.” There’s been quite a list over the years. Gratitude. Learn. Presence. Art. 

There’s one word I write every year: Move. Move can be a reminder to get outside and walk, bike, or paddle, or it can be a reminder that we live in a dynamic world with inevitable changes. When paddling in white water, it is harder to navigate obstacles if you are simply moving the same speed as the current.  

Life—and Maine—works that way too. Maine is changing. Our climate is warming, we’re experiencing development pressures, our demographics are changing, technology changes the way that we live and interact, and that’s just the beginning of a very long list. At Maine Audubon, we proactively help manage the types of changes that impact our wildlife and wildlife habitat—and we engage thousands of you to assist us with that work, either as community scientists, volunteers, advocates, students, or supporters.

Some quick examples from 2022: 

  • We helped 500 elementary school students raise endangered Atlantic Salmon.
  • We hosted 175 campers, launching them toward lifelong learning about the environment.
  • More than 160 volunteers took part in our brand new Loon Restoration Project to protect nesting loons and families.
  • More than 60 volunteers surveyed 41 streams for aquatic macroinvertebrates to assess water quality in our Stream Explorers program.
  • For our Annual Loon Count, more than 1600 volunteers (a record high number) counted on 361 lakes, the largest number of lakes surveyed since the count began.
  • More than 1000 people attended our seasonal signature family events at Gilsland Farm.
  • We worked with 26 teens across two crews with the Portland Youth Corps and engaged more than 16 teens in outdoor nature activities with a focus on native habitat restoration at our new Sprout Lewiston initiative. 
  • More than 770 people bought 6,040 Maine native plants. 

My other word for the year: Curious. Winter reminds me to be curious. In the quiet and canvas of fresh snow, signs and sounds are everywhere, making me ask “what happened here?” A fox chases a hare, leaving a quarter of an acre of tracks along the edge of a field. A Ruffed Grouse explodes out of soft powder three feet in front of you as you happen upon the place where it hunkered down on a sub-zero night.  

As we move into the new year, we’ll stay curious about the world around us, and we hope you’ll join us. Together, we can address the challenges of habitat fragmentation and climate change. Together, we can go on bird or native plant walks, explore the outdoors, learn about ecology and renewable energy, and so much more. I look forward to seeing your footprints in the snow alongside mine.