Maine Students Get Up Close and Personal with Forests and Critters

Maine Students Get Up Close and Personal with Forests and Critters
Why this project matters
Maine is more heavily forested than any other state. Despite this, the public, business owners, policymakers, and students have a minimal understanding of forest ecosystems and best management practices relating to water quality and other important environmental measures.
The Sustainable Forests Project will expand Lakes Environmental Association offerings, especially to students, and will greatly enhance field trip and outdoor learning opportunities. Students from Stevens Brook Elementary School in Bridgton can walk to the Interpretive Forest Trail at the Science Center, and for others, it is a short bus ride. This project will also support underserved urban communities in the Bridgton area. Students will be able to learn about tree identification, forest ecosystems, and forest practices while monitoring study plots.
Why is SFI involved?
Forestry is the primary land use in lake watersheds. Sustainable forestry, as practiced by SFI Program Participants, will help conserve Maine’s lakes. The Lakes Environmental Association promotes understanding of sustainable forestry and educates future practitioners, landowners, students, decision makers, and professionals through educational resources at three preserves, school curricula, and workshops.
One of SFI’s priorities is to connect youth to forests through education. We look for ways to instill a lifelong appreciation for the value forests represent for biodiversity, the wider environment, sustainable communities, responsibly sourced forest products and for our shared quality of life. The educational focus of this project also supports SFI’s focus on encouraging the next generation of future forest leaders.
How the project builds SFI community engagement
This project has strong involvement of key SFI partners and builds on existing relationships and work.  Through the project, the Lakes Environmental Association will create centers with infrastructure to support educational programs for students and schools, land managers and landowners. The Maine chapter of Project Learning Tree, an award-winning environmental education program of SFI, will be closely involved in developing the project’s educational programming.
Working with the Maine Forest Products Council, the Maine Forest Service, the Maine SFI Implementation Committee, and SFI Program Participant Hancock Lumber Company, a series of workshops will be developed to address such issues as harvesting aesthetics, stream crossings, water quality issues, managing forestry for wildlife, best management practices, and sustainable forestry issues and techniques.
This partnership includes educators, environmentalists, volunteers, government officials and SFI Program Participants.
  • Project lead: Lakes Environmental Association
  • Sustainable Forestry Initiative
  • Project Learning Tree — Maine
  • Maine Forest Service
  • Maine Forest Products Council
  • Maine SFI Implementation Committee
  • Portland Water District
Related information
  • Project Learning Tree, an SFI program, is an award-winning environmental education program designed for teachers and other educators, parents, and community leaders working with youth from preschool through grade 12.
  • Following an educator forestry tour, part of  PLT’s Summer Forestry Institutes for Teachers, high school teacher Susan Linscott in Maine has found ways to engage her students in studying real‑world issues in their community.
  • SFI is helping Maine’s family forest owners keep forests as forests — A Guide to Harvesting Family Woodlands.
About the Lakes Environmental Association
The Lakes Environmental Association (LEA) is dedicated to protecting the waters and watersheds of Western Maine. Since 1970, LEA has been the voice of lake protection in the Lakes Region. Maine might not have a milfoil program today if LEA hadn’t fought so hard in the state legislature. When the federal government proposed a nuclear waste dump near Sebago Lake, LEA played a big part in the battle to defeat it. And right now, LEA is trying hard to increase enforcement of Maine’s environmental protection laws, while at the same time helping property owners understand how and why lake protection is vital.