In this chaotic year, I’m appreciative of the fact that Maine Audubon is making a difference at a time when it really matters. There is much to be thankful for.
There’s never been a higher need for the wellness benefits of spending time in nature. Thousands upon thousands of people have used our beautiful properties as their “sanctuary” this year. Thank you to our properties crew who maintain these places for the benefit and safety of our visitors. Thank you to our visitors for sharing the space with each other respectfully, and for your frequent and sincere expressions of gratitude to Maine Audubon.
I’m thankful that our in-person programs and field work were able to not just continue but to flourish, from our long-standing Annual Loon Count and our Piping Plover program, to the popular native plant initiative “Bringing Nature Home,” to our brand-new community science project called Stream Explorers, designed to test water quality by sampling macroinvertebrates.
I’m also thankful that our members and participants displayed so much flexibility and supported our move to online programming. In many cases, we were able to connect with larger and more geographically diverse audiences as we created educational programs, virtual tours of our properties, online trainings and workshops, and much more.
We were able to thrive this year due to our supportive board, generous members and donors, and committed staff. We’ve got a wonderful blend of long-serving employees and new additions to a team that feels like a family, and who enthusiastically hits home runs on behalf of Maine’s wildlife and habitat every day of the year. Here’s a sampling of what they feel thankful for, as 2020 draws to a close.
“Photographs and memories have warmed my heart this past year and fueled my optimism that it won’t be long until we can all be together creating new memories and taking pictures very soon.”
Maureen Duggan, Membership Manager
“I’m so thankful for the experience of color in nature and in art.”
Christina Ferland, Accountant Assistant
“I’m thankful for the community of bird appreciators in Maine who are doing their part to help our feathered friends. From the participants in our programs learning about birds, to members of online forums like the Maine-birds listserv or MAINE Birds Facebook groups sharing sightings and photos, and especially to the volunteers helping with the Maine Bird Atlas, it makes me feel optimistic seeing so many people who realize the value and importance of Maine’s birds and other wildlife.”
Doug Hitchcox, Staff Naturalist
“I am thankful for my backyard. The one saving grace of being stuck at home this year was being able to focus on making my backyard as attractive to wildlife as possible, and I planted a ton of native plants and put up feeders, bird houses, and a heated bird bath. It’s worked. I have seen nearly 100 different species of birds in my little suburban yard this year, and searching for them has helped keep me sane throughout this scary mess of a year.”
Nick Lund, Outreach and Network Manager
“I’m thankful to live in Maine, which has turned out to be the perfect place to ride out a pandemic. And though we’re spending more time apart, I feel a greater sense of community between colleagues, neighbors, and even strangers—it’s reminded us about the things that really matter. And it’s making me think we can tackle climate change next!”
Melissa Kim, Director of Communications
“I am thankful for the health of myself, my family, and friends in these challenging times. I am also thankful for the opportunity to work at a beautiful location like Gilsland Farm and contribute to Maine Audubon’s mission of wildlife and habitat conservation.”
Stanley Sampson, Visitor Services and Retail Associate
“In this year rife with isolation and anxiety, I have been grateful for a community of artists who I have met online and gathered with via Zoom to draw together. It’s a connection with people from around the world that reminds me we are all in this together.”
Jenn Schmitt, Strategic Audience Engagement Manager
“I’m grateful for Maine’s beautiful outdoors—accessible, abundant and a salve for my heart and head during this tumultuous year.”
Brandi Sladek, Designer
“Maine’s amazing backyard in the middle of a pandemic—a place for solace and rejuvenation that includes daily walks to the waterfall; day hikes to places like Blueberry Slide, Bald/Saddleback Wind Mountain, or Seawall Beach; backpacking through the backcountry forests and ponds of Baxter State Park; circumnavigating Keoka Lake on a misty morning; paddling the Royal River after work; exploring the Downeast Lakes by solo kayak over six days; and peering down the bold coast and across the water to Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick. The flash of different colors from dark green to gold to pink and blue—a palette of different trees, shrubs, and flowers painted across the landscape. Orange and pink sunsets. Dark skies filled by the Milky Way. Magical moments shared with feathered, furry, and scaly friends.”
Sally Stockwell, Director of Conservation