Recently, 19 students graduated from the Penobscot Bay Stewards Program, sponsored jointly by the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition and the Maine State Planning Office.

Students completed nine days of intensive study through lectures and field trips. Headquarters for the five-week course was in the Old Vestry Building at the Penobscot Marine Museum in Searsport, which also gave students a day of behind-the-scences tours of their curatorial storage facilities and a tour of the museum.

In addition, for lectures and on-site exploration, students visited Sears Island, vernal pools, the Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Old Quarry Campground and Ocean Adventures in Stonington, Craig Brook National Fish Hatchery in Orland, Penobscot River Restoration Project and Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge in Rockland, Moose Point State Park, Fields Pond Audubon Center, the Bagaduce River to view horseshoe crabs, and Ducktrap Harbor.

They also traveled to Holbrook Island by boat, courtesy of Maine Maritime Academy, took an ecological boat cruise of East Penobscot Bay aboard a lobster boat, and an all-day excursion to Monhegan Island and Eastern Egg Rock puffin colony.

On the final day, held at Searsport Shores Campground, after lectures about mussel and oyster aquaculture, students were entertained at a picnic lunch, and presented with graduation certificates. Although the course was free, students will now be expected to complete at least 30 hours of environmental community service during the next year.

Plans are now well underway for next year’s Penobscot Bay Stewards Program, to begin in May of 2012.