PCSWCD names Bennett as 2018 Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year
DOVER-FOXCROFT — Each year, the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) honors an educator working in the county with the Outstanding Conservation Educator of the Year award. The awarded educator’s dedication to fostering students’ learning and understanding of natural resource ecology and related curriculum is why they were selected. This year, the PCSWCD staff and board of supervisors will present Alexandra Conover Bennett, Maine guide and professor at the College of the Atlantic, with this award at the East Sangerville Grange’s “Farm to Table Suppah” on Friday, Sept. 7.
For the past two years Bennett has been teaching at The College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor as a traditional outdoor skills teacher of the North Woods. Twice a year she hosts 10-12 students who have committed to the trade skills program, which is a non-credited extracurricular course taught in Piscataquis County.
Nick Jenei, coordinator of community engagement at The College of the Atlantic works in conjunction with Bennett to prepare the students and build basic wilderness skills, such as using a knife and fire starting. “When they show up in Piscataquis County, they fall in love with this place,” he said.
Some of the students have never seen snow or been to Maine. Last year’s group consisted of students from Italy, Scotland and other countries with only two from the U.S. When the students arrive in the winter for their two week adventure, they are taught traditional outdoor skills and snowshoeing and spend six days camping in canvas tents with wood stoves near Moosehead Lake. When spring comes, the same students are taught guide strokes, paddling, poling, tracking, lining and how to carry a canoe in preparation for the six day canoe trip on the Debsconeag Lake, protected by the Nature Conservancy.
With Bennett’s impressive background and knowledge of conservation and living lightly on the land, it’s no surprise she is “passing on the candle” by teaching youth what she has learned over the years. In the past, Bennett has also collaborated with PCSWCD by leading a wildlife tracking workshop by snowshoe at the Law Farm. Additionally, in 2014, she led a guided hike up Borestone Mountain for the Teen Wilderness Expedition cohort. The kids loved her approach to nature and connected with everything she taught.
The impressive and unique work that Bennett has done over the years in the field of outdoor and natural resource education and her passion for the outdoors are the reasons the PCSWCD is honoring her with the 2018 Educator of the Year Award.
Please join PCSWCD and the East Sangerville Grange to honor Bennett for her stewardship and conservation education in Piscataquis County. You can purchase tickets for the Farm to Table Suppah and enjoy a locally grown meal. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with a “family style” dinner featuring locally purchased ingredients, music by old-time Americana string band Timberdoodle and ceremony to follow. Tickets may be purchased at Bob’s Farm Home and Garden in Dover-Foxcroft and online at EastSangervilleGrange.org.