One of the US’s greatest environmental education success stories will be celebrated August 20 as Audubon’s Hog Island Camp marks 75 years of connecting people with nature. Since 1936, some of the world’s most respected naturalists have inspired campers of all ages to learn about and protect birds and the environment.
Roger Tory Peterson, was among the first teachers at the 335 acre island in Maine’s Muscongus Bay. His experiences helped spark interest in bird watching in the U.S. It is now the nation’s second fastest growing hobby, after gardening.
Kenn Kaufman, only nine years old when he read Peterson’s account of Hog Island, is now an international authority on birds and one of the Hog Island instructors. Rachel Carson, a pivotal force behind the modern environmental movement and creation of the EPA, described her visit to Hog Island in her landmark book Silent Spring. It was also here that Audubon’s Dr. Stephen Kress pioneered Project Puffin, a seabird restoration program that is now being replicated to help different species of seabirds around the globe.
“There’s only one Hog Island and it represents something special for so many people,” said Audubon president David Yarnold. “Hog Island is a breeding ground for optimism. People’s lives are changed when they see how birds lead us to ecosystems and they hold a special place in their hearts and souls for nature – and for Hog Island. Most important, Hog Island fuels our passion for teaching others about the world we’ve been entrusted to protect.”
Millicent Todd Bingham inherited Hog Island in 1932. She partnered with John Hopkinson Baker, then Audubon’s executive director, who had been searching for a site where Audubon could launch the organization’s first educational camp. The goal, unconventional at the time, was to help campers develop a sustained interest in the natural world.
“By focusing Hog Island’s programming on educators—who are often our most passionate conservation ambassadors—we have been able to multiply our impact exponentially;” said Audubon’s Vice President of Education, Judy Braus. “Educators are immersed in the wonder and beauty of the island– and we know that the experiences they share as well as the teaching skills the program imparts will foster environmental stewardship among thousands of young people and adults in communities across the country.”
The August 20 event includes a tour of the historical buildings, plus an afternoon clambake, with remarks by Audubon president David Yarnold.