Summer Adventures with Gulf of Maine Institute

November 11, 2017

Nature is my happy place. The environment is hands-down an immense passion of mine. I feel that it is necessary to do everything in my power to preserve our habitat so that my children and grandchildren  will still be able to enjoy our earth, and not experience it rapidly dying.  Luckily I found GOMI, where I can surround myself with passionate people, and work on raising awareness of climate change.  This is how I think I can become an active, global citizen.

 

This past summer I was lucky enough to be provided with multiple GOMI opportunities, and

 

further my love for learning about the environment.  Towards the end of June, I was a part of the Newburyport GOMI Summer Academy where we tended the animals of Spencer Peirce Little Farm, a Colonial American heritage farm located Newbury, Massachusetts. We learned how the farm functions, including how much effort it takes to maintain the fields, feed the animals and grow crops.  After the morning, our activities varied.  They included kayaking along the Merrimack River, mapping pepperweed (an invasive plant species), testing the water quality of different swimming areas, and reporting whether water quality was safe for swimming. Personally, my favorite activity was doing fieldwork in the salt marsh with two biology teachers from Northeastern University. Once the whole team trekked far out into the field, we took multiple samples of mud from different marsh grasses and used liquid nitrogen to freeze and preserve them. These samples, from a variety of habitats throughout the marsh, would then be tested for their microorganisms living within each test site, providing information on the overall health of the marsh.

 

 

I traveled to Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, with four other GOMI students and a diverse group of New England teachers to attend an environmental workshop for both American and Canadian teachers. This workshop was the first time in GOMI's history that New England and Nova Scotia teachers came together to share their classroom ideas and curricula with each other, and I am so lucky to say I was able to participate in the hours of discussions.  We learned about the Bay of Fundy, community engagement, tidal power, the importance of watersheds, the Ocean Drifter Project, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) ideas, local beach clean-ups, and invasive species.  By listening to such a diverse group of environmentally aware educators, I learned a great deal.  Another rewarding aspect of this conference, was that the teachers listened to me and fellow GOMI student’s opinions and questions throughout the trip. We spent lots of time in workshops and traveled to local areas.  One of my favorite trips was going to Pebble Beach with all of the teachers and students to search for fossils.  There we lost track of time just observing the beauty of the water. It was so eye opening; everything that we were learning about in the classroom came to life.

 

Something that I have been working on, especially throughout the summer, has been improving my interview skills. While in Canada, I interviewed both American and Canadian teachers on their drifter projects and how they apply the data to their teaching. In response to why drifters are important for students to learn about, a teacher from Massachusetts, Melissa Chen from the Lowell Middlesex Academy in Massachusetts, explained that they teach students how “real-life” scientists collect data. 

 

 

Jake Williams, also from Lowell Middlesex Academy, explained that drifters help explain how garbage flows throughout the Gulf of Maine and beyond, affecting our environment and that of multiple other countries. Some difficulties Melissa Luetje, from Kennebunk High Maine, Maine, faced were that her class’ drifters went offline for 2-4 weeks because the GPS system failed. There were concerns that the drifters, in theory, are just adding to ocean debris if they are not found and retrieved.  The best part of this interview was seeing the teachers and students relating to one another about parallel strengths and weaknesses that they found within their projects, even though their classrooms are hundreds of miles apart. It connected us.

 

One of my main focuses throughout my two years with GOMI has been climate cafes, because it teaches community members how to have meaningful discussions about the environment instead of debating.  In August, the GOMI team hosted a cafe about food security, which is one of my favorite topics because I am a vegetarian.  We had every member bring a local dish and it was a huge hit!  The food was delicious and it helped prove how healthy we can eat while dramatically helping local farms and the environment simultaneously.  Overall, this summer has greatly broadened my determination, passion, and appreciation for conserving the environment.  I feel so lucky to be presented with such engaging opportunities, and I am proud to start making my mark on the world.
 

 

 

Jaedin Guldenstern is a junior at Newburyport High School. This is her second year with GOMI. GOMI, in her words, is where  “… her passions for biology, raising environmental awareness, and resource conservation can be put into action because I am surrounded by peers and leaders who all want to make positive change in our community.” Outside of GOMI, Jaedin plays field hockey, performs theatre, and  takes all honors and AP courses.

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