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Stories from the Coast

Lessons at Erickson Fields

This fall, MCHT partnered with three experiential learning school programs at our Erickson Fields Preserve in Rockport. The collaboration proved fruitful for eight young gardeners eager to engage with nature, serve their community, and attain personal, educational goals. Under the coordination of Anastasia Alley, four Camden Hills' Regional High School students with physical and mental disabilities visited the Erikson Fields Preserve numerous times this fall. Among other things, they worked on filling and planting a wheelchair accessible raised bed. "Experiences such as working at Erikson Fields help diverse learners develop skills that provide the basis for self-determination and future success as adults," explained Ms. Alley. "This diversifies future choices for students, because they have had a variety of experiences from which to make choices about personal preferences now and in their future." Jeni Mason, a teacher at the Camden-Rockport Middle School, was thrilled to bring three of her Discovery Program students to Erickson Fields on Fridays throughout the fall. The trio spent one hour a week volunteering on a number of chores, including, harvesting produce and cleaning up the fields for the winter. "When the Discovery Group is at the farm we discuss issues related to sustainable agriculture while we work, and we also tell jokes," commented Ms. Mason. "The Discovery Program aims to provide alternative education for students that struggle with the classroom environment and Erikson Fields offers an ideal venue to teach life skills." The Wayfinder School in Camden is a residential learning facility that serves high school aged students who are at-risk for non-completion. This autumn, Erickson Fields Preserve was fortunate to enjoy the volunteer services of Ericka Bramhall, a Wayfinder School student from Friendship, Maine. She volunteered twice a week throughout October and was extremely helpful in harvesting this year's crop and preparing the food for delivery to market. Managed by MCHT's Aaron Englander, the Erickson Fields Preserve is home to a growing list of activities each year. "These programs are the bread and butter of what we do," reflected Aaron. "It is so rewarding to see the faces of these hardworking students and young adults after they have successfully completed their tasks at Erickson Fields."

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