Skip to content Skip to navigation

Staff Stories: Young Citizen Scientists Destined to Lead

May 2, 2016
Cultivating Science Literacy

In this week’s blog, Molly Auclair shares her story about a special group of students from Massabesic Middle School.

Through GMRI's citizen science education program — Vital Signs — Molly engages Maine students and teachers in hands-on science experiences, which contribute meaningful data to research initiatives throughout the state.

Here's Molly's story:

It's easy to get discouraged in the face of the many challenges we observe in the Gulf of Maine and beyond. Whether it's a warming Gulf of Maine, or the spread of invasive species throughout our watershed, I'm thinking about these challenges on a daily basis. 

But some days provide the inspiration I need to press on, renewing my passion and reminding me why I do what I do. I had one of those days early last month, when I attended the Maine Woods Forever round table meeting at Unity College.

I made the trip to support and celebrate a team of 7th grade students from Massabesic Middle School. That day, they accepted the Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award, which recognizes young people and youth organizations working to conserve Maine’s forest heritage.

These students are some of the most active young citizen scientists we've seen participate in our Vital Signs program. As part of this program, these students chose from a variety of "Field Missions", answered questions with data, and shared their findings with the science community online. The award recognized their contribution to the scientific community through Vital Signs and other statewide programs. 

The event began with a round of introductions. From the start, it was obvious — these students will be conservation leaders in our state. Brenna, one of the students from Massabesic, introduced herself with vigor: “My name is Brenna and I am a citizen scientist from Massabesic Middle School!”

The success of this team starts with their amazing teacher, Pat Parent. Pat is a 7th grade science teacher who has been engaging his students in hands-on investigations with our citizen science education program, Vital Signssince 2009. These kids are incredible, and so is Pat.

These students are so committed to being knowledgeable, responsible, and active stewards of Maine’s environment. Meeting them and seeing their passion up close brought happy tears to my eyes.

Even in the face of overwhelming environmental challenges, there is inspiration to be found. This day of work reminded me of that, and I left feeling optimistic and proud of the work we all do. I can't wait to continue our work supporting the many budding citizen scientists in schools across our state.

Want to stay current with more stories like this one? Join our community by following us on facebook or subscribing to our blog.