Hog Island Scholarship

Washington Crossing Audubon Offers a Scholarship
to Outdoor Educators 
July 15–20, 2019

Outdoor or environmental teachers and educators in the Central NJ region are invited to apply for a scholarship to attend the Sharing Nature: An Educator’s Week at National Audubon’s Hog Island Center on Muscongus Bay in Maine. The program is held July 15-20, 2019.

National Audubon will have a complement of well-known environmental instructors covering many aspects of teaching and field techniques along with identifying different habitats and the plants and animals that occupy them.

There is only one scholarship to be awarded. It covers tuition and expenses while on the island. It does not cover individual travel expenses. If you wish to be considered, send an e-mail to


Please include your contact information, your position, your teaching experiences and how you plan to use your experiences at Hog Island. More complete information about this workshop can be found here.

Deadline for applications is Friday, December 14th. The successful applicant will be notified mid-January 2019.

Hear from our 2017 Scholarship Recipient, Tamara Garaffa

I was thrilled to be selected for this year’s Washington Crossing scholarship to participate in “Sharing Nature – An Educator’s Week” July 17-22 on Hog Island Audubon Center in Maine. What a wonderful experience ! I’d like to encourage anyone with an interest in environmental education to apply for 2018.

The program seeks to inspire working teachers and youth leaders in the power of nature and the importance of using nature as a living laboratory, as well as to give them real experiences in the out-of-doors,  plus tools and activities for sharing science and the overall environment with children and adults.  Once a two week program, this program is core to Hog Island’s mission – educating educators.

I can only describe the experience as going back to summer camp as a kid while continuing your college field coursework! For me this was a reconnecting with my previous environmental educator experience. Many years ago I worked a little up the road as a park interpreter in Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor with the Student Conservation Association (SCA). It was great to finally go back and pick up the thread I left behind on the Maine coast.

It is hard to describe the peacefulness and natural beauty of Hog Island. (I am playing the live stream of the Osprey Nest webcam now just to hear the waves lapping against the shore.) It is small. You can hike around it in a day. Located south of Monhegan Island, just few stones’ throws off the coast of Bremen, Me – it is still an island, another world; especially when the fog enshrouds it or the nesting osprey pair above the dining hall cry. Once you get off at the dock, there are no cars or motorized vehicles whatsoever. The lodging is rustic with shared rooms and bathrooms. I actually slept very well on the island! The island’s ecosystems include beautiful spruce/fir forest, freshwater bog, saltmarsh meadow, rocky tide pools, and beach.

I feel true gratitude to Mabel Loomis Todd and Dr. David Todd and their daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham, who had the foresight to preserve this island over a century ago, when it was becoming a woodlot and pasture for hogs and other livestock (see history at http://hogisland.audubon.org/about/hog-island-history). Roger Tory Peterson was one of its first camp teachers in 1936. Rachel Carson spoke at the Audubon dedication in 1960, mentioning it in her book, “Silent Spring”.

Hog Island brings out the best in people and those who visit often become fiercely loyal! The nine educators leading the field trips and workshops were experienced teachers, scientists, and artists; all enthusiastic to share their tremendous knowledge and technique with other teachers. They succeeded in their goal – to teach and to inspire and to pass on their ethic of caring to other teachers.

The ‘campers’ were approximately sixty teachers – an awesome and diverse group from just about every place and every background – Arizona to Florida; urban to rural schools; underfunded public to private prep schools; elementary through high school. We all learned from one another and somehow became a cohesive group – bonding over our shared visions, journey, and camp fun!

So much was unexpected, and there is so much I cannot begin to explain. Here are a few highlights:

Evening guest lecture by Dr. Stephen Kress, Director of Seabird Biology and Conservation, titled, “Lessons We’ve Learned from Puffins and Terns,” With fascinating slides, he outlined the process by which he and his team patiently reintroduced the Atlantic Puffin back to Maine in the 1970s.

Boating near Rock Island and landing on an outer island – Harbor Island – seeing Atlantic Puffins for the first time and other incredible sea birds; even dolphins and harbor seals. Another day we enjoyed crazy loons lifting offs and lobsters pulled from traps on a boat tour of the inner harbor.

Joining a licensed bird bander in examining, banding, and releasing a northern parula and a wood thrush.

Visiting the other side of Hog Island to find its only other habitation – the Bingham Cottages where the founding family’s two historic cedar shingled cabins and dock still make a secluded and slightly mysterious encampment, used by each year’s Artist-in-Residence.

Skidding through the mud flats to collect critter samples on the beach and later feasting on plentiful buttered periwinkle ‘escargot’ on toothpicks (a definite remembrance of Acadia).

Carefully walking barefoot on a floating sphagnum carpet among delicate sundews, pitcher plants, and rose begonia orchids! Photographing a tiny masked wood frog.

“Entomology” – a butterfly and bug search in the heat at the pond back on the mainland. A night time moth search too!

The Lab – Dock-side room with stuffed mammal and bird specimens and a touch tank containing live hermit crabs, purple sea urchins, anemones, and rude ‘squirters’. Witnessing bioluminescent dinoflagellates illuminate the seawater at night on the dock.

Listening to one another in a giant circle in our “Fish House” gathering place. Sharing about where we grew up, what inspired our interest in nature study, what we learned this week, and what we hope to do with our experience going forward.

While this was truly a great learning experience, it was also just a great experience! I think for many ‘teacher-campers’ this week it provided valuable R&R, inspiration in nature, comradery, and calmed frazzled school-year nerves. It was a refueling to empower teachers to keep on keeping on.

I work in the public communications field but I also volunteer with a number of non-profits in my area where leaders are needed for walks and other environmental education initiatives. Hog Island Educators Week provided great tools for teaching relating to areas such as field ecology, botany, dendrology, entomology, and bird identification. I hope that this week of training may even enhance my work as a volunteer Eagle Scout project advisor.

I would definitely go back again to Hog Island! Next year I might join the volunteer kitchen crew. Most of them first came for a program, but loved the place so much that they jump at a chance to be there again the next summer! It’s that special a place!

—Tamara Garaffa

Hear from our 2015 Scholarship Recipient, Scott Johnson, teacher at Kingwood Twp School

“When was the last time you have rubbed elbows with someone who is a master in their field? No, really, take a second to think…. someone who does whatever it is they do in a masterful way. They make it all click, show the way, and inspire you to reach to new heights. Maybe you are fortunate, and you have a person or program in mind. For me, it had been a while. However, this summer the Washington Crossing Audubon Society generously gave this local teacher an amazing opportunity this summer to witness masterful teaching and learn about ways to enhance environmental education in the classroom.

I was lucky enough to be 2015’s recipient the National Audubon Society’s Educator’s Week at Hog Island in Maine. This inspiring experience gave me the opportunity to recharge my sense of wonder in the natural world and to remind myself of the importance of taking our local children outside to learn about everything from bird specific curriculum to the night sky.

One program leader at the camp was an exceptional naturalist, and an even more impressive teacher. He had an innate yet honed ability to read the group and provide them with the inspiration, connections, and understandings that true learning requires. I will carry his excitement and commitment to teaching about the natural world into my classroom and community. I plan on incorporating specifics about bird identification into my science classes that highlight observation and recording, as well as focusing on habitat needs and the importance of our state’s migratory flyways.

Thank you, Washington Crossing Audubon for coordinating this opportunity. The experience was a chance to think deeply about how necessary it is to get our children outside, even though it may seem hard to fit it in a busy school day. I hope this opportunity is available to teachers for years to come, as I believe it is a needed tonic in a busy world.”

Scott Johnson
2015 recipient

Hog Island Educator’s Week 2017
2017 Photos © Tamara Garaffa
About Hog Island


Learn practical approaches and add inspiration to your environmental education curriculum during this action-packed program. Our experienced and enthusiastic instructors share their favorite approaches, methods, and activities for engaging both children and adults with nature.

Workshops using techniques in art, music, theater, journaling, and other disciplines will be presented, as well as a host of classic Audubon Camp field trips, including a boat trip to the restored Atlantic Puffin and Tern colony on Eastern Egg Rock, intertidal explorations, and hiking through Hog Island’s unspoiled spruce-fir forest. These experiences provide a wonderful opportunity to be learning outside in a beautiful setting, while also considering how you can take back some of these insights and methods to your students back home. We’ll be exploring citizen science, creating some inquiry-based lessons on birds and other topics, and demonstrating both low and high-tech methods of teaching.

“Best workshop I have ever attended. No teacher left inside. All teachers deserve summer camp! Total stress relief, FUN, FUN, FUN!” – Deb, teacher, Alabama

Participants must arrange transportation to and from the Audubon mainland property in Bremen at the start and end of the session (see directions page). Check with your local Audubon chapter or bird club to see if scholarships are available.