Our Kiosk Display – Teaching Others in Our Community

With deep appreciation to Blueberry Cove 4-H Camp and members of the Conservation Commission for a beautifully built kiosk, permitted and installed in the parking access to the Marsh, students were able to prominently display their work for the community.

One panel focuses on “History Around the Marsh” featuring a GIS map students created showing the boundary of the watershed and the location of the home fuel oil leak that led to the Water District, whose boundary is also located in the map along with the two town wellheads that provide public water.  The historic route off the peninsula is featured and how it came to be “replaced” by Route 131, and many old buildings that used to be along Main Street near the outlet of the Marsh that have been demolished or relocated through the years.  We were able to find the “Old Cellar Hole” of a family mentioned in the 1860’s census and on an 1857 map that shows the Marsh as a stream throughout. We were able to create a superimposed image of today’s Marsh over the old map to locate today’s more extensive body of water.

Another panel focuses on our “Explorations of Habitat Around the Marsh” and all the places we ventured and what we did and what we saw.  Students wrote caption descriptions to photos we took while exploring and share art illustrations and poetry inspired by the watershed.  Information on featured species; eagles, osprey, elvers and alewives is also displayed!  Come see and learn!

Lasting Impressions

“The most important part of this unit for me was being involved with nature and to respect nature and your surroundings, especially when it is your community.  What bothers me the most is how much kids are stuck to their screens and not to the outdoors, and this unit was a great chance to explore our community and nature.”  Willow McConchie

“This Marsh Project was very fun!  I learned so many things including history around the Marsh and the habitat of animals who live there.  The most important thing that I learned was about alewives and elvers, and their lifecycle.  Before we did this Marsh Project, I had never been heard the word “alewife” or “elver”.  I enjoyed going on our field trip to the Marsh.  It was really fun to explore the Marsh and the habitats of animals that life there.  I really enjoyed this unit!”  Addie McPhail

“I learned a lot about creating maps.  I enjoyed collaborating with my class to create something.”  Lute Campbell

“I liked learning how many old buildings are gone.  What I liked best about this project was being in the woods during school.” Adrien Williams

“My favorite part was walking around the Old Road.  The most interesting thing about the Marsh I learned about was what contour lines are and how they work and what a watershed is.”  Henry Weinand   

“I liked all of the adventures and field trips we went on.  It was fun when we went to the culvert and took a big class picture.  I learned that the broken egg that we found was a goose egg.”  Lilly Dyer

“My favorite part about the Marsh Project is when we went outside to the Marsh.  The most important things I learned were the watershed boundary and where it was.” Shaun Hopkins

“I liked that we got to go lots of places during the project.  I also learned more about iGIS and point and non-point source pollution.  Ella Wirkala

“My favorite part of this project was going out to the Marsh.  I learned what contour lines are and what watersheds are.”  Zele Miller

“ I liked this project because it involved mostly the outdoors and the history of the Marsh, which I’m very interested in.  I loved our Forest in a Jar(s), our big walk, and our iGIS work.”  Grace Yanz

“The Marsh Project was fun!  I like this project because we got to go outside and we got to learn things about the habitat and the history of the Marsh.  My favorite part was walking on the beaver dam.”  Mya Simmons

“My favorite part about this project was finding plants and animals at the Marsh.”  Madison Barbour

I learned what a watershed really is and the history around the Marsh.  My favorite part was the walks and going outside.”  Taylor Warrington

“The Marsh is an amazing place.  I loved learning about the plants and animals that thrived and struggled there as we walked through the forest.”  Maggie Gill

“I liked this project a lot.  It was a lot of fun outdoor work.  Walking the “Old Road” was my favorite part.  I learned the Marsh used to be two feet deeper.  The alewives could come into the Marsh because of the culvert.  The alewives are returning this year.”  Lydia  Myers

“I liked the project because I think it was fun to learn about the Marsh and the history and habitat around it.  I learned that there was an old road on Fogerty Corner.  I also learned that the Marsh ’s water level was two feet higher back then.  I never expected to learn stuff like that.”  Gwen Miller

“My favorite part of this was the alewife part and when my cousin Lyle came and he brought alewives.”  Breannah Morris

“The most important thing I learned was about all the habitat and people around the Marsh.  My favorite thing that we did was learn about the Hermit.”  Jack Ewell

“My favorite part of this project was going outside and exploring nature.  The most important thing I learned is what a watershed is and how big the Marsh is.”  James Cody

Our “Celebration of Learning” Presentation

Students presented a summary overview of our activities to an audience including parents, teachers, the town’s Conservation Commission members and a Natural Resource Council of Maine staff member.  We narrated these slides of a KeyNote presentation, presented here as a movie, to share what we learned about throughout our studies.

The Hermit by Jack Elwell

Here is a narrative Jack Elwell wrote about “the Hermit”, as told to us by James Skoglund.

The Hermit

Mr. Skoglund and Mrs. Gee came into our class to talk to us about the hermit that used to live on the edge of the Marsh.  His name was Arthur Pierson, also known as Art.  He lived in this dugout where all he used for light and heat was kerosene, even throughout the winter.  He would go to local car garages and help himself to the oil.  Even though people knew he took kerosene, the community knew that he was not able to buy his own resources, so they just let him have it.

When he was younger, the Odd Fellows Hall was burned to the ground.  Whether or not Art was responsible for the fire, he took the blame and was sent to prison.  When he got back he just kept living his life, doing the same things that he did before prison.  Kids used to sneak out to his dugout and some of the kids would be destructive and throw his apples that he had gathered.  Some people would give him food and other resources to in order to get by. 

When he got older, around seventy, our town decided that if he lived where he was for much longer, he might die of something like hunger or being too cold to survive, so men were sent to capture him.  They did and brought him to an asylum to live.  I don’t think he sounded completely incompetent, but he wasn’t like most people either.  When he was in the asylum, he helped with some of the more ill people.  From what we know, he died there at the asylum.  That’s one of the many stories about our town, another piece of history around the Marsh.

My Home by Grace Yanz

Grace Yanz made some discoveries about her own home on Main Street!

My Home  

by Grace Yanz

I moved into this house on 75 Main Street in February of 2017 from Rackliff Island, and I’ll tell you, I didn’t have an open mind. My mom said she bought the house because of the wallpaper. The wallpaper is pretty interesting.

When I explored the house I found a trapdoor in the ceiling of my room and a door leading down to the basement. The basement is dark and full of spiders and gravel with a window but no door leading to the crawl space.


In the living room I found a picture of my house in the 1800’s (it was built in 1872) that I found fascinating. The saplings around the house in the picture are now tall and full-grown. The people are dressed for a photo in amazing clothes. It was such a big family! It was originally owned by the Hart family.

The house is really nice to live in. I can walk to school in two minutes, the library in one minute, the Marsh in one minute, and the General Store in five minutes. Ripley Creek and the harbor are also close by, and I can find lots of fun treasures in the mud along the shore of the creek. Lots of the people living nearby go to the school, and the fire station is across the street in case of emergency.

The Marsh is one of my favorite places to go. I walk there and kayak there and it’s really interesting. The first time I went out on the water it was right after school when me and my brother were home alone. We found a pool by the beaver dam that was absolutely teeming with fish. I was walking my dog another time and I found a flightless merganser.  Another time we were going in the evening and we found a turkey in a tree, an owl, a turtle, and sundew, a carnivorous plant (wish I had a picture of that)!

I’d like to thank John Falla for the work he has put into our class project, and especially the information he researched about my house.

 Grace brought in this framed memo when she was researching the old photo.  We asked John Falla to interpret what appears to state:  “Harte Built by Charles A. Gliden in Oct. 1st 1871, moved in Dec.17, 1871”


The house was owned by the Gregson family when I was growing up in the village (1950s-1960s).  They were from Worcester, MA, and Mrs. Gregson was part of the Hart family in St George.

Charles Glidden lived in the house next to the Marsh where Jane Derbyshire now lives.  Glidden was a joiner – or house carpenter – and built many homes in Tenants Harbor.

With this info, I believe the note is saying the house was built for Hart by Charles Glidden, and my guess is that the house was built for Ida Gregson’s parents – John Amos Hart and his wife, Mary Jane Dukeshire.  One of Frederickson’s deeds refers to an abutting property owner as Mary J Hart.”   John Falla, May 2017

Getting A Professional’s Critique

After we had finished our history map, we invited feedback from Hope.  We planned a time we could connect through FaceTime, and she offered some general tips about assessing a map product, and then offered some very specific feedback for us to consider.

For starters, she explained what she calls “the ten second rule”.  Within ten seconds, a viewer of your map should have a clear idea of the purpose of the map and understands the information that is presented in the map.  This is helped by a clear title and map features that are easily seen and identified within the legend.  She thought we had done well and passed the ten second rule.

A different thing she mentioned is that our eyes do is follow a certain pattern as we take in visual information.  As readers, we read from left to right and start at the top.  Therefore, our eyes first look at information presented at the top right, then the information across the top, and then down the right side.  That means, our most important information should be at the top left on our map.

Something we had never thought about was the professional standards for how to order or symbols in the legend.  Hope told us that it is customary to place points first, then lines, then polygons when making the legend.  Our symbols were all mixed together in our legend.  She also mentioned that many people forget to put a “locator” in their maps.  We already had one in our map so we were happy about that and the other parts of a map we included, that any map should have.  Our symbols needed consideration however, along with its overall size in comparison to the map image size.

While we were getting feedback about our map, we shared with Hope the kinds of information we included around the map in the overall display about the history that we had learned during the project.  She thought our information was very interesting and told us our work surpassed that produced by some college students she teaches!

Based on her comments and tips, we decided to make sure people knew it applied to not only the map, but all of our display.  We made it bigger and moved it’s position.  We also made some changes in the order of our symbols and the size of our legend, and moved the location of our author’s names.  We wanted to do the very best we could to follow GIS cartography standards.

We are proud of the work we’ve done and have learned many new skills.  It was really helpful to have a professional critique our map so we could learn even more and create a better map as we considered her feedback and made decisions of what to revise.  Thank you Hope!

The Habitat Game

To help us learn the components of habitat, students played a game.  Here is how we played the game.

“The game is played by four people on one side of the basketball court.  They are the deer.  All of the other people on the other side are:  food, water, shelter and space.  These people have special cards representing the deer’s needs.  The four deer have to race across and get all of their things, one trip at a time, and get back to other side with all of their things.  If they don’t, the deer “dies” and becomes one of the deer’s needs.”  Lilly

“Some people are deer.  Other people are habitat.  Deer people have to get four tags of the habitat.  They need all of the colors to survive.  There are only a certain amount of resources.  Green = food, Yellow = space, Blue = water, Red = shelter.”  Adrien

“To play this game, you have four “deer” that try to collect an animal’s four needs:  food, water, space and shelter.  Anyone who isn’t a deer is a habitat part.  The deer try to collect the four needs before they run out.  Anyone who doesn’t collect them becomes part of the habitat.  At the start of every new round, more deer are chosen by the deer who have survived, making it harder to survive.”  Maggie

Here is what happened during our rounds!

“I really liked this game because of how much it relates to actual animals, and their habitat.  If they die, there is one less in the population.  If they add more deer, you reproduced with population growth.”  Lilly

“When deer lived, more habitat people became deer.  When we had lots of deer they didn’t have enough resources.  Four deer always seemed to survive.”  Adrien

“When we played, the population of the deer kept growing.  Soon, there was more deer than there was habitat.  Since every one was racing to get their needs, soon the habitat ran out of food, water, shelter and space.  All of the deer died and there was a population crash.”  Maggie


Learning from Lyle Morris, Elver Fisherman

“On Wednesday, May 3rd, my class talked with and listened to Lyle Morris who spoke about elvers and alewives.  The first thing he spoke about was elvers.  Lyle said elvers don’t eat anything while small but as they get older they start to eat small things in the Marsh.  Elvers are mostly eaten by fish and birds by the Marsh.  One pound of levers cost $1300 but it’s hard to get a license.  Elvers mostly die after going to spawn.”             Contributed by Ella

“Elvers (American Eels) are mainly caught and sold as babies.  They do this so the people that buy them can feed and raise them the way they want them.  Elvers live nine to eleven years and grow up to be two to three and a half feet long.  When elvers are born, they have no mouth or gills.  They breathe through their skin.  When they are young they are called glass eels.  This is because they are see through.”        Contributed by Sophia

“Your elvering limit depends on your historic landings.  Maine has one of the best elver runs on the Eastern seaboard.  Adult elvers lay their eggs in the ocean near Cuba.  When they hatch they are called glass eels.  When they are just born they have no mouths or gills, so they breathe through their skin.  On their journey in the Gulf Stream they go through metamorphosis so they then grow a mouth and a gill.”        Contributed by Willow

“I learned that elvers make us lots of money.  One pound of elvers is about a large hand full of the small, glass-like eels.  One pound of elvers is worth about $1300.   In the Sargasso Sea, the elvers are born.  The eggs float up in the currents and rivers to fresh water.  The elvers are hatched in the ocean from their eggs.  When they are nine years old, they swim back down to the Sargasso Sea where they mate and reproduce.  Then, the whole cycle restarts.”       Contributed by Jack

“Elvers are baby eels.  At first, they are small and are known as glass eels because they are clear.  They have small black eyes.  But they do not stay in this life stage for long, and so soon they will turn a brownish color but stay small until adulthood.  Elvers are tough, but delicate.  Elver eggs start their lives in the Sargasso Sea, and the current carries them to the Marsh.  The baby elvers live in the marsh until they are old enough to breed.  Then, they swim out of the Marsh to the Sargasso Sea and they lay their eggs.  Elvers help the Marsh.  They are food for fish and so they help sustain the Marsh’s ecosystem.”    Contributed by Addie

“I learned that the average lifespan of an elver is nine to eleven.  The adult elvers are about two or three feet and the kids are two inches.  They lay their eggs in the Bermuda Triangle and the babies find their way back.  Elvers are good money.  Elver season starts March 27 and stops June 7th.”    Contributed by James

“It takes three days to send elvers to Asia.  It takes 2,000 elvers to make one pound.  Females get to five feet if they are in good shape and have good food.  Three feet big is how the average male is.  Maine and South Carolina are the only states fishing for elvers.  They only run at night and are harvested when the sea is going out.  Their life span is nine to eleven years.  You get $1300 a pound.  Elver season starts March 22-June 7.  You have to be fifteen in order to catch elvers.  They lay their eggs in the Bermuda Triangle.”         Contributed by Taylor.

“Yesterday I learned about elvers, that they only run on the coming tide and at night.  For every elver you catch you get 50 cents.  If you catch elvers you have your own quota.  Elvers lay their eggs in the Sargasso Sea then when the eggs hatch they float up the current then come to the Marsh and live there until they’re ready to go back to the Sargasso and lay their eggs.  Elvers usually live nine to eleven years, because when elvers lay their eggs they usually die, but some survive and lay eggs twice.  The fishing season for elvers is from March 22-June 7.”    Contributed by Mya

“I remember elvers only live around nine to eleven years.  Elvers help the Marsh because they are food for fish.  Elvers when they are born float in the Gulf Stream until they smell freshwater and go to it and start growing.  Elvers in a pound cost about $1000-$1300 dollars.  When elvers are born they don’t have a mouth or gills.  The elvers come from salt water and go to fresh water because they need it to grow.  Elvers are known as glass eels.”   Contributed by Shaun

“Elvers are baby eels.  They are fished commercially in Maine and South Carolina.  The lifespan for an eel is nine to eleven years.  Adult eels lay their eggs around the Bermuda Triangle.  Adults die not long after this.  Elvers ride the Gulf Stream up north, then search for fresh water.  This is when the elvers swim into the nets.  Elver season is from March 22nd – June 7th.  One pound of elvers equals $1300.  An adult eels is about three to five feet, and a baby eel is one to two inches.”       Contributed by Lute

“I learned that elvers’ life span is nine to eleven years.  They also grow to be two feet or more.  Lyle said the price of elvers per pound is $1300.  Alewives are used as lobster bait.  Lyle also said one of the elvers is worth fifty cents.  When elvers are born they have no mouth or gills.  It takes time to develop them.  You have to have a license to fish them.  You have to be a certain age to fish elvers but when alewives were caught you could be any age.”    Contributed by Zeke

Here’s what students noted about alewives:

“What I learned about alewives is that when they go or live in the ocean people don’t know where they live.  I also learned that if they were born in the Marsh, they come back when they are older.  Alewives are still being fished in Warren on the St. George River.  It’s the best run for the fishermen who fish them.  Alewives are good bait for fishermen because they are fresh and they smell good to the lobsters.”     Contributed by Leah

“Lyle Morris says the best run for alewives is in Warren Maine, in the St. George River.  Alewives are a type of fish that live in salt water and breed in fresh water.  The adult alewives will only lay their eggs where they were born.  But the alewives that wanted to come to the Marsh to breed couldn’t make it into the culvert that they put in during the 1970’s.  The fish couldn’t breed, but people were also overfishing them on the ocean side.  They were fishing for the last adults coming to breed in the Marsh.  In the 1980’s all the alewives in the Marsh were gone.  They replaced the culvert, and put new laws on fishing the alewives, and in 2016 the first alewife was found in the Marsh in over thirty years.”      Contributed by Lydia











Surveying the Outlet Stream

Students were privileged to help survey elevations of the outlet stream to the Marsh.  The Nature Conservancy made a site visit to the stream on May 3rd; asked by the town’s Conservation Commission to survey the site and collect data to be used in the process of creating a concept design to improve fish passage.  Their crew of four biologists enlisted the help of both 6th and 7th grade volunteers to help hold the two prism poles as they took distance and angle measurements of referenced points that would help re-create the terrain of the outlet.  Students found it took concentration to keep the pole steady and level.

James taking a turn holding the ranging pole.

Willow, holding steady!

Sophia volunteered!

The surveying team explained to 8th grade student Zack U. about an additional “Z” coordinate, beside the familiar “X” and “Y”, describing it as “angle”.  The impromptu math lesson also brought in the concept of a graph’s “origin”; all the measurements were referenced from the fire hydrant at the back of the parking area.

Ahlivia and Cassi took the lead for 7th grade and helped with many of the data points, both in the water and on land.

Nick took a turn!

There was quite a lot of enthusiasm to see these professionals working in the field, taking up the cause of the returning alewives!

A special THANK YOU! to Ben Matthews and his team!