UMaine Honors students travel to Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership for community-focused outdoor orientation experience

The University of Maine Honors College recently took 25 incoming Honors students on an inaugural outdoor orientation experience on Hurricane Island Aug. 28–30.

The Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, located off of the coast of Rockland, Maine in Penobscot Bay, hosts science education and leadership programs for schools and organizations from around the United States.

Hurricane Island Director of Education and UMaine Honors alumna, Jenn Page ’03, created a dynamic orientation program focused on community-building, marine science, local history and sustainability. Page reconnected with the Honors community through this new partnership developed in conjunction with an Honors course “Community Building and Engagement,” created by professors Melissa Ladenheim and Mark Haggerty. This service-learning course combines experiential and traditional classroom learning in the exploration of community, civic identity and social responsibility.

Page, supported by Hurricane Island educator Kat Duvall, led the students through activities like raft-building, tide pool exploration, marine debris clean-ups and rowing in Penobscot Bay. 

The students, who entered the program as strangers, quickly bonded. As a group, they brainstormed a set of community agreements intended to guide them during their time on the island and throughout the semester. Values such as inclusive respect and humility grounded their experience and engendered a strong sense of community.

For the students, the Hurricane Island orientation trip laid the foundation for further learning.

Throughout the fall semester, the students will dedicate time to service-learning projects, partnering with local organizations to design projects that benefit UMaine and surrounding communities. 

Honors anthropology and secondary education double major Tom Adams and Honors marine science major Sydney Avena will serve as the student facilitators for the course. They will guide the students as they work on their projects and expand their understandings of community and service.