News Feature

Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, April 17, 2014
Stonington Project to engage youth as “citizen scientists”

Island students aged 10 to 18 are invited to attend a free April 23 workshop in Stonington to learn how to map local eelgrass beds.

The three-hour workshop will take place at the Penobscot East Resource Center starting at 10 a.m. Free lunch and snacks will be provided, according to a news release from the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance.

The training will be provided by the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. The laboratory needs help this coming summer locating and observing eelgrass beds around Deer Isle. The task will involve reporting the location of active beds or reporting that eelgrass is missing from where beds existed in the past.

Scientists fear eelgrass along the Maine coast is vanishing, which is a concern among fishermen and clam diggers because the marine plant provides essential nursery habitat for valuable fish and shellfish.

Jordan Bailey (MDI-BL) will teach workshop participants how to locate beds and upload information to MDI-BL’s Maine Collaborative Eelgrass Map, which allows the public to report on eelgrass coverage.

“This is an invitation to local youth to volunteer as citizen scientists,” said Judy Mathewson of the Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance, which is sponsoring the event. Young people are well suited to the task, she said, “because they’re curious and adventurous, not to mention observant and energetic—those are all good qualities that contribute to success in the field.”

Mathewson said her job is to provide local youth with fun opportunities to explore science outside of school. For more information or to register, telephone 359-8458. Organizers ask participants to register by 2 p.m., Friday, April 18.