Friday, September 28, 2012

“Shark Girl” Visits Berwick Academy

Jillian Morris filming a tiger shark in the Bahamas (Photo by Duncan Brake)
Jillian Morris is a marine biologist, videographer, shark lover, and ocean advocate. Originally from Maine, she now resides in the Bahamas and loves talk to kids about sharks. Recently Jillian spoke with students at Berwick Academy and shared the plight of the declining global shark populations and to encouraged kids to get involved to help the sharks.  She talked about her love for sharks and highlighted the many benefits of a healthy shark population to the world’s oceans. “Often kids think that they cannot do anything because they are too young,” Morris says.  “I want kids to know that they can do so many things to help our sharks and our oceans. They have voices that are powerful and as good junior scientists they can ask questions.”  Morse enjoys the time she spends in classrooms as much as the time she spends in the water with sharks.  She feels it is important to give the next generation the tools they need to help protect our oceans and she firmly believes that each child can make a difference.
When Morse is not busy speaking to schools she travels the world with her husband filming for various media outlets including BBC, Animal Planet, Discovery and National Geographic. They recently filmed the fifth season of Animal Planet’s “Whale Wars” aboard the Sea Shepherd vessel Brigitte Bardot.  Morse says, “It was a wild ride and an experience I will never forget. Antarctic waters are raw, wild, and gorgeous. There is no place on the planet like it. I feel very fortunate to travel and experience these adventures. I also feel fortunate for the opportunity to speak to kids all over the world about sharks and our oceans.  Fins up Berwick Academy for loving sharks!”

Wells High School Senior Becomes National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist

Zoë Onion, semi-finalist in National Merit Scholarship Program (courtesy photo)

Wells High School senior Zoë Onion has learned that she is a semifinalist in the 58th annual National Merit Scholarship Program.  She achieved semifinalist status by scoring highly on the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test or PSAT/NMSQT.
Annually, 1.5 million high school juniors and seniors throughout the United States take this standardized test.  Based upon test results, 16,000 are selected to become Semifinalists.
Semifinalists have the opportunity to compete over the coming months to be among the 15,000 finalists selected in the spring to qualify for over 8,300 National Merit Scholarships, worth more than $34 million. 
“About 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and more than half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar title,” according to the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.
“First, it’s great to have this opportunity available for students and second it is great to be recognized for all the work I have put in through the years,” said Onion about becoming a semifinalist.
At Wells High School, Onion is on the Math Team, school newspaper, and Student Council.  In addition, she participates in the jazz, marching (this year she is a drum major) and concert bands and plays piano for the school chorus. She also plays on the softball team at school in the spring. Currently, she is in the cast rehearsing for the upcoming fall play at WHS, “And Then There Were None.”
Onion says that she has not decided on a college to attend after high school but says that she would like to study molecular biology and do research.  In the summer of 2012, Onion inspected incoming boats in Mount Vernon for invasive species such as milfoil and hydra.
“We’ve been very lucky to have several students qualify each year in the National Merit Scholarship Program,” said WHS secretary Lil Lagasse.
The National Merit Scholarship Program is administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation of Evanston, Illinois. It is a non-profit corporation established in 1955.  Scholarship money awarded by the NMSC comes largely from corporate and college sponsorship. 

Story and photo by Reg Bennett

Hilton Winn Farm Offers Fall Fun Day

Kids decorate pumpkins at last year’s Fall Fun Farm Day (courtesy photo)

The Youth Enrichment Center at Hilton-Winn Farm will be hopping again this year on Saturday October 6. The whole family can enjoy a beautiful day on the farm with games, nature hikes, arts and crafts activities, scarecrow making, pumpkin painting, and more. The farm is located at 189 Ogunquit Road in Cape Neddick.
The Youth Enrichment Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to positive youth development, nature-based education, and stewardship of the unique agricultural landscape of New England. It s based at Hilton-Winn Farm, a King’s Grant farm dating back to the 1600s.
Over its 400+-year history, the Hilton-Winn Farm has been a witness to the changing cultural and environmental landscape of southern New England. Its early inhabitants were likely participants in the colonial French and Indian Wars, and since then the property has supported a range of economic activity that reflects Maine history. It has been used variously to cultivate many different kinds of vegetables, fruit orchards, raspberries, and blueberries, to run a logging sawmill and a blacksmithing operation, and to raise chickens and dairy cows, among other activities. Today, it provides the perfect setting for the Youth Enrichment Center.
The land that comprises the Hilton-Winn farm has a rich history, starting with the first known inhabitants: the Algonquian-speaking Armouchiquois tribe of Native Americans who were based in what is today Saco, Maine, according to its website.
The farm’s site first came under English colonial influence in 1620 through a land patent from King James 1 to the Plymouth Council for New England. It appears that English settler Edward Winn acquired a royal land grant of the property in or about 1640, and by 1710 his grandson Josiah Winn had settled 10 acres of land there. The property—which grew to over 200 acres—was farmed by eight generations of Winns, and then Clifford Hilton (Ada Winn’s son) purchased the farm in the 1940s.
In the 1990s, as the rural qualities of southern Maine life were being threatened by rampant development, Ethel Hilton, the 9th generation of the HiltonWinn family, was dedicated to preserving the woodlands, wetlands, and agricultural character of this historic property for future generations to enjoy. In 1998 she donated 185 acres of the property to the York Land Trust, which now forms the HiltonWinn King’s Grant Conservation Area.
In 2002 Youth Enrichment Center executive director Nancy Breen purchased the remaining central forty-eight acres of rolling fields and forests with one goal in mind: to establish a safe, peaceful, and fun environment for children to connect with the land, learn about the science and art of farming, and be transformed along the way.
The Fall Fun Farm Day is one of many offerings that looks to achieve this mission.
Admission for the Fall Fun Farm Day is $5 for adults and $3 for kids; the day starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m.