Public Programs

Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary offers a variety of public programs, field trips, and trainings focused on local science projects, wildlife & natural history, and local/regional cultural history topics. The Sanctuary’s programs are intended to inform fellow citizens and connect them when possible to further opportunities to learn, become conservation stewards, and engage in meaningful projects.

2024 Evening Programs and special field trips continue to be developed for the summer and early fall seasons. Check back for updates here or on the Sanctuary Facebook Page for specific week postings or contact the Sanctuary at somesmeynell@gmail.com to receive email updates with the latest details. Registration is required to make sure we stay within our optimum field trip size and capacity of our indoor spaces. Email Director Billy Helprin at somesmeynell@gmail to register.

Amphibian Road Crossing Study in Acadia National Park, Saturday afternoon, February 24th 3:00 till about 4:15, at the parish house of the Somesville Union Meeting House church (low building to the left of the church).

Why did the spotted salamander cross the road? For some very important business. The “why” is well known, but the when, how, and where questions are what we would like to know more about, particularly in Acadia National Park for this study. This project is a collaboration with Acadia National Park to study amphibian road crossings and is looking to recruit an army of citizen scientists to help over the next two years, starting this winter. The project is led by Marisa Monroe, a Master of Science degree student at the University of Maine, Orono in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, & Conservation Biology. The Sanctuary is hosting this program to help with volunteer recruitment. There will be a more technical follow-up training for those who would like to participate in the study.
 
The team is hoping that volunteers can help build a large enough sample size to map and predict when and where crossings occur in the Park. Another goal is to monitor throughout the year in an effort to encounter more species and out-migrating juvenile frogs and salamanders.
 
This talk will cover the different amphibian species found on Mt. Desert Island, how their migrations might differ, methods for reducing mortality, and what we hope to discover in the next few years. It would be great to hear from attendees what local amphibian movements they have observed over the years. No commitment to the citizen science project is expected for attendees of the program.
 
Additional parking for the church parish house is available at the MDI Historic Society museum corner lot and at the repertory theater across from the Somesville fire station. Please join us and share the event date with anyone you think might be interested! 
 

Giving a lift across the road via shovel, spring 2017, Billy Helprin

 
 

Pond Life Under the Ice, with Edwin Barkdoll, Friday March 8th 2024, 7:00-8:00 pm at the parish house of the Somesville Union Meeting House church (low building to the left of the church).
 

Close up of a water boatman in ice, photo by Edwin Barkdoll

 
 
Do you ever wonder what hides under the ice of a frozen Maine pond? Have you ever witnessed close up the springtime explosion of amphibian life that follows winter? Join Maine Master Naturalist and photographer Edwin Barkdoll for an evening of exploring life under the ice culminating in the annual amphibian emergence and migration. We will examine many creatures, from nearly microscopic crustaceans to the shy salamanders and boisterous frogs who emerge after ice breakup. Expect to leave and never look at a frozen pond with quite the same eyes. Come join us for this fantastic program!
 
* Parking is limited at the church so carpool if coming with friends [additional parking can be found at the MDI Historical Society Museum at the corner of Oak Hill Rd and Main Street and in front of the Somesville Library by the Mill Pond. From the museum and library you can walk up the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street – it is a little more than 200 yards to the church. Parking is also available at the Acadia Repertory Theater across from the fire station.

 
Upcoming training dates for amphibian surveys in Acadia National Park.
The Sanctuary hosted University of Maine graduate student and project lead Marisa Monroe in late February for a talk about this project and generated a bunch of participants. The survey period continues through the summer and It would be great to have more volunteer help! See the flyer below for details. Please share with anyone you think might be interested and available.
 

 
Shrubs and Woody Plants of MDI field trip with Jill Weber, Saturday July 13th, 9:00-11:00am
Local plant expert extraordinaire Jill Weber will lead us on an exploration of the Sanctuary property on the south side of Somes Pond. We will meet at the trailhead on the south side of the Somesville fire station at the corner of Pretty March Rd and Main Street. There are a few parking spots available immediately adjacent to the trailhead and across the street at the Repertory Theater. There will be a cap on the number of participants to ensure easy communication while hiking and discussing our plants of interest along the trails. Sign up by emailing Billy at somesmeynell@gmail.com.
 

2024   Evening Nature Paddles on Somes Pond. We will continue to host public paddles by canoe, kayak, and paddle board, as we have in past years starting in June (see more details below). We’ll have a chance to watch the resident loon family, explore the pond, and socialize with each other in a beautiful setting. Bring your own boats and meet on the water. Launch on the Pretty Marsh Road or Oak Hill Road sides of the pond. Feel free to come out beforehand to explore on your own and people can depart whenever they need to. The evening selected each week is based on the best forecast, but is usually Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Typical meeting time is 5:00. Check the Sanctuary Facebook Page for specific week postings or contact the Sanctuary at somesmeynell@gmail.com to receive email updates with the latest details.

Summertime evening paddle on Somes Pond, Billy Helprin photo


Thursday Morning Birding/Nature Walks: most Thursday’s (sometimes Fridays depending on weather and schedule) we meet at Sanctuary Headquarters or various locations around the island to see what we can find in the natural world and catch up on what the group has been seeing and doing since our last gathering. Check the Sanctuary Facebook Page for specific week postings or contact the Sanctuary at somesmeynell@gmail.com to receive email updates with the latest details. 

Thursday morning wildlife viewing at Seawall, Billy Helprin photo

2023 Evening Programs and special field trips continue to be developed for the summer and early fall seasons. Check back for updates here or on the Sanctuary Facebook Page for specific week postings or contact the Sanctuary at somesmeynell@gmail.com to receive email updates with the latest details. Registration is required to make sure we stay within our optimum field trip size and capacity of our indoor spaces. Email Director Billy Helprin at somesmeynell@gmail to register.

Fern Walk with Roberta Sharp, Saturday June 10th, 2023, 9:00-11:00, at SMWS

Please join Maine master naturalist and Sanctuary Board Member, Roberta Sharp, for a fern identification walk on the Somes-Meynell Sanctuary trails. We will look at basic fern structures and learn clues to easily identify about a dozen ferns. Meet at the Sanctuary HQ parking lot, 57 Pretty Marsh Rd in Somesville. The morning walk will be from 9:00-11:00. This walk will have a maximum of 12 attendees so that everyone can easily discuss and observe ferns together along the way.

Plant Treasures of Mount Desert Island—Rarities of All Kinds, with Jill Weber, Thursday July 6th, 7:00-8:15 pm, Somesville Church Parish House

Mount Desert Island has a rich and varied flora in habitats that range from ocean and freshwater shores to mountain summits above tree-line. Almost 900 uncultivated plant species have been recorded on MDI; among them are several rare species. Join botanist Jill Weber to explore these plants, the reasons for their rarity, their current status, and what we might expect in light of climate change.

Jill Weber has been a consulting botanist in Maine since 1990. She has conducted rare plant and ecological inventories for government agencies, conservation groups and private clients and is the co-author of The Plants of Acadia National Park and The Sedges of Maine. In addition to consulting, Jill teaches part-time at the College of the Atlantic and serves as the curator of the college’s herbarium.

Insects and Plants: BFF, with Carol Muth and Karen Zimmermann, Tuesday July 11th, 2023, 10:00-11:30, at SMWS HQ

The life cycles of many insects and plants are dependent on each other. Blueberries need bees to form fruit, monarchs need milkweed to reproduce. Every insect and plant relationship has a story. We will look at several of these interactions and get a closer view of some insects using field microscopes. Then we will wander the paths and pond edges at Somes Meynell and look for insect signs on plants. Led by Maine Master Naturalists Carol Muth and Karen Zimmermann.

Both graduates of 2017 Maine Master Naturalist Program and avid amateurs, Carol spends her day crawling in ditches following arthropods while Karen can be found dipping in ponds and streams to see anything that squirms, squiggles, or swims. 

Nature Walk with a Focus on Trees, Saturday July 22, 2023, from 1:00 – 2:30 pm with Nick Noyes. Rain date will be on July 29 at the same time. Meeting location will be the Acadia Repertory Theater parking lot in Somesville across from the fire station. Registration is required and the walk will be limited to 10-12, children are encouraged to attend with a parent.

This nature walk with Maine Master Naturalist Nick Noyes will focus on trees, their habitats, and information used to recognize leaf structures, bark, twigs and fruit. We will use a Summer Tree Identification Guide as we walk Sanctuary trails along Somes Pond and we will identify and compare the unique features of trees that we find. We will discuss habitats we pass through, examine forest succession, the effect of glaciers on the landscape, and how global warming may be changing Maine’s iconic coastal forests.

Biomimicry: Learning from Nature, Talk with Acadia National Park Writer in Residence Adelheid Fischer, Friday July 28 2023, 7:00-8:15pm, Somesville Church Parish House

We have a special talk coming up that we are co-hosting with Acadia National Park. Adelheid Fischer is the current Writer in Residence for the Park and she will be giving a talk: Biomimicry: Learning from Nature at 7:00pm on Friday, July 28th, at the Somesville Meeting House Church parish house. Seating and parking are limited so registration is required – please email somesmeynell@gmail.com.

Adelheid Fischer, is a nonfiction writer and educator at Arizona State University, and divides her time between the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona and South Mountain in the City of Phoenix. She has pioneered curricula and special projects in biomimicry that introduce students to the use of biology as a means of sustainable innovation in architecture, design, business and engineering.

This Acadia National Park Artist-in-Residence outreach event is hosted in collaboration with Somes Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary.

More at https://www.nps.gov/…/000/acadia-air_fischer-adelheid.htm

* Parking is limited so carpool if coming with friends [additional parking can be found at the MDI Historical Society Museum at the corner of Oak Hill Rd and Main Street and in front of the Somesville Library by the Mill Pond. From the museum and library you can walk up the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street – it is a little more than 200 yards to the church.

Monarchs and Milkweed with Cyrene Slegona, Saturday, August 19 2023, 9:30-12:30, rain date August 20, Somesville.

Monarch butterfly on common milkweed, Billy Helprin photo

Learn about the life cycle of Monarch butterflies, including their astonishing migration from Maine to their overwintering sites in Mexico, and the generations that make their way back to Maine. What can we do to help Monarchs survive and thrive? This interactive presentation will address these questions and more. There also will be a short walk to look for them in a nearby stand of milkweed. Bring a magnifying hand lens if you have one!

Event leader is Cyrene Slegona, a Maine Master Naturalist, member of the Maine Entomological Society, and has studied Monarch butterflies in Maine and Mexico. Location: in Somesville, specific site given upon registration. To register, send an email to somesmeynell@gmail.com. Children under 14 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is limited to 14. Rain Date: August 20.

Maine Wonders, Talk with educator Zoe Weil, Thursday, August 24th 2023, 7:00-8:15pm, Somesville Church Parish House

Join us for a presentation by Zoe Weil, President of the Institute for Humane Education. Maine Wonders will take you on a journey into the natural world, where you’ll discover the weird and wild; meet Maine’s loons, seals, and jellyfish; explore amphibian love; and, while learning about metamorphosis and transformation, be transformed yourself into someone who wonders about Maine’s natural wonders as you never have before. Seating and parking are limited so registration is required – please email somesmeynell@gmail.com.

When she’s not writing and giving talks about educating the #SolutionaryGeneration, Zoe is usually exploring nature, photographing and videotaping Maine wonders. She has given six TEDx talks including her acclaimed TEDx, “The World Becomes What You Teach.” She is the author of seven books, including The World Becomes What We Teach: Educating a Generation of Solutionaries and Nautilus silver medal winner Most Good, Least Harm. Zoe was named one of Maine Magazine‘s 50 independent leaders transforming their communities and the state, and is the recipient of the Unity College “Women in Environmental Leadership” award. 

* Parking is limited so carpool if coming with friends [additional parking can be found at the MDI Historical Society Museum at the corner of Oak Hill Rd and Main Street and in front of the Somesville Library by the Mill Pond. From the museum and library you can walk up the sidewalk on the west side of Main Street – it is a little more than 200 yards to the church.

showing multiple types of lichen growing on a tree

Exploring Lichens on MDI with Grace Bartlett, Ellen Gellerstedt, and Janet Myers, Saturday, September 16 2023, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at SMWS. 

Have you ever wondered about the splotches on trees and rocks? They seem to be everywhere, but what are they? During this walk you will be introduced to the fascinating world of lichens. You will see the different growth forms, learn how they live and grow and even learn how they help human beings. Using a magnifying glass or hand lens (bring your own if you can) you will look closely at these incredible organisms. There will be time to ask questions and reflect on what you found to be most interesting about lichens. The walk will be led by Maine Master Naturalists Grace Bartlett, Ellen Gellerstedt, and Janet Myers. Specific meeting location: TBD, Mount Desert. To register, send an email to somesmeynell@gmail.com. Children under 14 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is limited to 12. Rain Date: September 30.

 

2019 Spring & Summer Public Programs (Pre-pandemic era!)

2nd Annual Invasive Species Forum

Saturday May 4th, 2:00-4:00 pm at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor.

Presented by the Mount Desert Sustainability Committee, the Land & Garden Preserve, Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary, and Acadia National Park.

  • Invasive Forest and Garden Insect Pest Update
    • Colleen Teerling, Maine Forest Service Entomologist
  • Terrestrial Species Management by Local Land Managers
    • Species Identification, Resources for Management Help
  • Aquatic Invaders Monitoring / Courtesy Boat Inspection Program
    • MDI and Hancock County Survey and Prevention Efforts
  • Information Tables and Small Group Discussions

Thursday Morning Birding/Naturalist Walks

Every Thursday through summer, fall, and even into winter, from 9:00 – about 10:30.

Meet at Sanctuary headquarters to explore Sanctuary trails, and sometimes beyond, looking for whatever the group is inspired by and working on our bird ID skills by sight and sound. Join the camaraderie of the group by sharing your recent sightings around the island and growing our collective knowledge of nature. Check the Sanctuary Facebook Page or send an inquiry email to be on the list for information on exact times and meeting places.

More Programs and workshops are being lined up for the summer and will be updated here.

 

2018 Late Summer & Fall Public Programs

Thursday Morning Birding/Naturalist Walks

Every Thursday through summer, fall, and even into winter, from 9:00 – about 10:30.

Meet at Sanctuary headquarters to explore Sanctuary trails, and sometimes beyond, looking for whatever the group is inspired by and working on our bird ID skills by sight and sound. Join the camaraderie of the group by sharing your recent sightings around the island and growing our collective knowledge of nature. Check the Sanctuary Facebook Page or send an inquiry email to be on the list for information on exact times and meeting places.

Let nature inspire you – Children’s Art Workshop with Rebekah Raye

August 11th 10:00-12:00 am

Join artist, illustrator, art educator and children’s book author, Rebekah Raye for a morning of observation and inspiration, drawing and painting from nature around the Sanctuary. Rebekah is a wonderful artist and is so great with kids – we are happy to have her coming back this summer! We’ll start out with an informative walk on Sanctuary trails where we will learn about different habitats and sketch what we observe. We’ll then gather at the HQ building to turn our sketches into paintings, expressing our experiences onto paper. Ages 6 ++. All materials provided. Open to families, registration required.

Loon Paddle with Maine Audubon’s Susan Gallo

Wednesday August 15th 1:30-3:30

Bring your canoe or kayak to paddle around Somes Pond with wildlife biologist and loon specialist Susan Gallo. We’ll watch our resident loon pair and learn about their feeding, parenting, and territorial behavior.

Loons Around Maine – Talk with Susan Gallo

Wednesday August 15th 7:00 pm

Learn about the state of Maine’s loons – population trends, survey methods, ongoing threats, research needs, and conservation efforts. Sanctuary Director Billy Helprin will give an update on MDI loons as well.

Almost Full Moon Paddle

Saturday August 25th 6:30 pm

Watch the moon rise over the mountains from the vantage point of kayaks or canoes on Somes Pond. Open your senses to the sights and sounds as we transition from dusk to moonlit night. Before sunset we’ll watch our resident loon pair, identify aquatic plants, and listen to evening bird sounds. Catch up on what has been happening around the pond this summer from Sanctuary staff. Bring your own canoe or kayak and meet on the pond near the island. Please call for details.

 Invasive Plant Patrol Training and MDI Lake Surveys                  

Weekend of September 7th, 8th, 9th at Sanctuary HQ. Survey locations and meeting times to be shared later            

Participants will learn how to use field guide keys to help identify suspected invaders, become familiar with common native plants, and practice the skills needed to be an effective early detector. Novices will be paired with experienced “IPPers.” This is an opportunity to develop more highly trained local citizens to help with future survey work in Hancock County. The program will be led by the Lake Stewards of Maine (formerly the Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program) and co-hosted by Acadia National Park, Somes-Meynell Wildlife Sanctuary and other partners. Group size is limited – please call for details.

Intro to Mushroom Natural History, Identification, and Photography

Friday, September 14th at 7:00 pm for the talk and Sanctuary walk Saturday the 15th 9:00-11:00 am

Maine Coast Heritage Trust Land Steward and Naturalist Kirk Gentalen will join us again to share his enthusiasm for the natural history of mushrooms, their role in ecosystems, interactions with humans, and mushroom photography. Every species is different “so you can never tell what’s going to come up on a fungus walk. Having a group search, find, and really discover the world of fungi is a unique focus for a walk – and there can be discoveries at every turn.” These events are for all interest and knowledge levels.

Space is limited and registration is required.

For more information or to register, please call 244-4027

or email us at somesmeynell@gmail.com

Some examples of past programs include:

Invasive species monitoring and management on Mount Desert Island

Dark Side of the Loon: Documentary film presented by the filmmaker Gail Osherenko

Deep Ecology reading group11011448

Maine’s Butterfly Atlas Project

Medicinal Plants of Maine

Birds of MDI: Past, Present and Future

Aquatic Plant Paddle

Poetry on the Pond

Somesville’s Historic Dams

Landscaping with Nature

Aquatic Invertebrates: Ecology & Monitoring

Loon Appreciation Day 

Bald Eagles in Maine

Vernal Pool Ecology

Geology of Mt. Desert Island