Catching Up With the Past

MH100_fullcolorIt’s hard to believe that 2016 has come and has almost gone. After 100 years as Mass Audubon’s first wildlife sanctuary, one year seems like a short period of time, yet despite the quickness by which this year has seemed to go by, what a year it has been.

Celebrating 100 years kicked off in March as Moose Hill celebrated 44 years of maple sugaring. With programs for schools, groups, and visitors to learn about the process of turning sap into syrup, this time honored annual event continues to connect people with a truly New England crop – maple syrup -oh how sweet it is. Join us at a program or for Maple Sugaring Weekends in 2017.

classic George and Martha

George and Martha, our 250 year old maple trees, are ready for sugaring season.

On April 7 as we welcomed back David Clapp for a Fireside Chat. David grew up in Sharon, was one of the very first campers Moose Hill ever had, and later became one of the sanctuary directors here. An evening of stories, shared memories, and even some great pictures and other keepsakes was enjoyed!

The celebration continued on April 9 with a “100th day of the year” celebration. All Mass Audubon sanctuaries were open for free that day – some with programs that visitors could attend, some with cookies or cakes, but all with the opportunity to share our wonderful sanctuaries with visitors – those that had never been to a sanctuary before and those that enjoy the sanctuaries all the time. It was a great day for greeting old friends and making new ones too!

raccoon at sign 1958

Lotor, the raccoon knows where to hang.

Here at Moose Hill, we had the pleasure of meeting one of the sons of a former sanctuary director, Al Bussewitz. His son, Al, stopped by on April 9 and shared photos and stories, and we even took a tour of the old nature center – the home in which Al had lived when he was younger. It was great to finally hear the truth behind some of the stories that we have heard and to learn what it was like to grow up at a wildlife sanctuary.

staff and volunteers gather for Statewide Volunteer Day in April

staff and volunteers gather for Statewide Volunteer Day in April

With 100 years to celebrate, Moose Hill wanted to provide as many opportunities for people to visit and experience our great sanctuary as possible. On April 30, Moose Hill was one of the host sites for Mass Audubon’s Statewide Volunteer Day. With staff working by their side, volunteers joined us to spruce up our gardens, spread wood chips, weed the fields for our Community Supported Agriculture program, and scrub down the camp garage. Laughter, along with a lot of much appreciated work, was done! We look forward to next year’s volunteer day so we can do it all again.DSC05128

June brought camp – 67 years strong – back to Moose Hill. Our summers just wouldn’t be the same without campers exploring the trails, discovering the farm fields, catching frogs, experimenting with science, dabbling in art, and venturing new places. Building appreciation for the natural world, providing hands-on science learning, and helping children develop important life skills, such as teamwork, leadership, and self-expression remains our focus. Registration for summer 2017 begins soon!barn-display2

As summer ended and campers headed back to school, it was time to turn our attention to fall and Halloween Prowl. With another visit from a former director, Mike Shannon and his wife, Margie, we discovered that so much of this event follows the traditions that Mike and Margie created when they started this event 34 years ago. Each year, the costumed characters change, but since this was our 100th year as the first sanctuary, we decided to bring back our favorites to have on the trails and the opossum, great blue heron, dragonfly, and dung beetle did not disappoint. Of course the luminary lit trails started with a druid and ended with a celebration fire followed by hot chocolate, camp fire songs and even S’mores to finish off the night! Guess we’ll do it again next October; we just have so much fun.

Welcome Mass Audubon staff!

Welcome Mass Audubon staff!

But we didn’t limit our celebrations to events, visits from past staff and campers, and programs, Moose Hill also hosted the Mass Audubon Board of Directors for a meeting in June with a tour of our fabulous sanctuary and organic strawberries from our farm. Then, in early September, we were delighted to be the gathering site for the Mass Audubon annual staff outing, sharing the sanctuary and a few of the surrounding attractions with our colleagues from across the state, and the islands.

And to top it all off, every visit provided everyone the opportunity to explore our Gallery. The four shows this past year all reflected in some way on Celebrating 100 years:

  • Looking Back…Moving Forward – highlighting artists who have exhibited at Moose Hill before, showcasing their creativity and individual expressions of nature with pastels, oil, watercolors, and photography.climate-change
  • What Have We Got to Lose? – an opportunity to capture the potential loss of our natural resources through the impacts of climate change through an artist’s eye.
  • Hidden Treasures at Moose Hill – a return of the innovative photographs by Fred Martins that were featured in Moose Hill Art calendars from 2006-2011. Each photograph explored the many hidden treasures of the sanctuary and invited visitors to get out on the trails and explore the wetlands, vernal pools, streams, and pine forests at Moose Hill.
  • Birds of Prey – noted for their keen vision and powerful talons, birds of prey intrigue and fascinate and were the perfect ending on the year – after all, any exhibit that features birds reminds us of the story of Mass Audubon.

It truly has been a wonderful year and we thank everyone who visited, shared stories, pictures, memories, and time with us. It is the land, the staff, the volunteers, and all of you that make Moose Hill still as vibrant today as it was 100 years ago!

We look forward to seeing you on here in 2017 as we begin the next 100 years of Moose Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.

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