Alongside land preservation and stewardship, education is one of the most important areas of our work. CELT’s growing education programs are designed to generate a greater appreciation and awareness of our local natural areas. As a common resource preserved for public benefit, we depend upon our members and friends to help with the care and maintenance of our lands.
Supported almost exclusively by grants from private foundations and donor-designated gifts, our education programs are coordinated through CELT’s education committee. This committee is comprised of 11 local residents who attend several meetings each year to oversee the creation and implementation of new projects.
Passport to Cape Elizabeth's Great Places:
To encourage families' outdoor physical activity and enjoyment of the great trails in Cape Elizabeth, CELT has developed a Trail Passport; a pocket guide to five local walking trails. A fun scavenger hunt will lead hikers to the trail box containing a hole-punch used to indicate trails that have been completed each of the four seasons right in the passport. When the five passport trails are complete, children bring the passport to the CELT building to receive an outdoor adventure prize! CELT happily supplies the passports and the hiker incentives to encourage enjoyment and exploration of Cape Elizabeth’s walking trails.
The trails range in length from less than a mile to a couple of miles, and go through different terrains – including wooded areas, wetlands, beaches and coastlines. The passport describes what kind of terrain to expect on the trail and what wildlife you may see. Whether you’ve got an hour or a day for the great outdoors, the Passport is your guide.
Explorer Backpack Program:
Find your next adventure with a CELT's Explorer Backpack! Explorer Backpacks, filled with family friendly activities for CELT's trail walks in Cape Elizabeth, may be borrowed from the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust office when an adult leaves a credit card or driver's license as collateral. Woodlands ecology or seashore themed Explorer Backpacks are available.
Using a curriculum co-developed by CELT and 4th grade teachers, the entire 4th grade class visits Robinson Woods three times (fall, winter and spring) to fulfill required components of Learning Results criteria utilizing local examples of ecology.
Now a rite of passage, each eighth grade classroom participates in our annual service-learning trail project building bridges and learning about local ecology.
At the Pond Cove Elementary School’s media center, CELT has created a hands-on Environmental Resource Center to provide the elementary school teachers access to resource materials on environmental education, field guides, nets and other materials that can be ‘checked out’ for use in the classroom, or on field trips.
During the winter, each Pond Cove first grade class receives a guided walk at Great Pond from CELT volunteers to learn about animal and plant adaptations.
Each spring CELT is fortunate to offer and supervise community based trail service projects to Cape High School seniors as a Senior Transition Project.
CELT volunteers provide preschool guided walks on the trails as an introduction to the wildlife habitat of the natural world.
Over the years CELT has distributed over $10,000 in grants to Cape teachers in support of environmental education in their classrooms. These grants are available to teachers at all grade levels for classroom materials, professional training, subscriptions and field trips. To apply for a grant, download the CELT Grant Application here.
Pond Cove Natureland raised garden beds: For several years, volunteers from the Land Trust have worked with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders in the "outdoor classroom" at the Pond Cove Elementary School. This is part of "Natureland", a place where they are encouraged to learn about science and the environment in an outdoor setting. In the spring, seeds are started in the classroom. It is here that the students learn about plant cycles, seed and plant needs. Later in May, their seedlings, along with other donations from local farmers, are planted in the raised beds. They will be planting potatoes, carrots, winter squash, and seasonal vegetables - those that have been historically successful for Maine farmers due to our short growing season and the need for winter storage. They are taught about gardening organically and about composting. Throughout the summer, the students and their families will water and tend the gardens. In the fall, there is a harvest luncheon where these veggies are incorporated into the menu and the flowers and gourds are used for decoration. Students dedicate the harvest from one raised bed to a local food pantry.
Community Services Programs:
Through our local Community Services office, CELT offers a variety of Nature Walks open to the community. Past programs have included:
- Seasonal bird walks for Migrating Birds, Winter Birds, Shorebirds, and Birding for Kids.
- Vernal Pool Walks (spring)
- Wildflower Identification Walks (spring)
- Geology Walks (fall & spring)
- After-school programs for 3rd and 4th graders (fall, winter & spring)
- Winter Snowshoe Exploration (winter)
- Annual Cross-town walk (fall & spring)
Do you know the difference between a black spruce and a balsam fir? Well now you can!
In coordination with the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust Education Committee, local elementary teacher Ogden Williams has provided a comprehensive self-guided tour for walkers in Robinson Woods. Designed to complement our existing 14-station tree guide available at the kiosk, this walk adds an additional 10 stations offering even greater insight to the biology and folklore associated with our many native tree species. Laminated copies of this self-guided tour may be available at the kiosk, or you can download and print the document here on our website.
Encouraging people to learn more about our local environment is one way we can foster an appreciation for our local natural areas that provide wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Through these efforts we hope to build a constituency of friends committed to protecting and preserving special lands that contribute to the town's rural character. To learn more about the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust or to join us as a member click here.
We would like to acknowledge Sara Lennon for donating her time to design this document. Thank you Sara!