It’s hard to believe that 2019 will soon be coming to an end. The holiday rush is on, and yet, I still find time to take a step outside, enjoy a deep breath, and explore the nature at Moose Hill – a perk of working in such an amazing location.
On a recent walk as I was reflecting on the year and I am amazed at all of the programs, events, and activity that happened – it was a good year. One of my favorite programs is a trip I do with fellow sanctuary director, Doug, from Stony Brook down to Essex, Connecticut to search for Bald eagles every February. This year didn’t disappoint and the brunch at the Griswold Inn is always worth the trip! But February always turns our attention to the maple sugar season as trees are tapped and we wait for that weather to turn just perfectly for the sap to begin to flow.
This past year, we added a whole array of new programs to celebrate this short, but sweet, season. All programs that you will once again find this coming February, March, and early April. Tap-a-tree is for anyone who wants to try their hand at tapping one of our trees – the reward, your own bottle of Moose Hill maple syrup fresh from the season. Then we added, Sugar-on-Snow (an iconic tradition), Sweet Treats from Nature (cooking with maple syrup), and Maple Sugaring Behind the Scenes (an evening in the sugar shack). And, of course, we will continued our Maple Sugaring Weekends, a tradition now heading into its 48th season!
But new programs during the maple sugaring season was just getting us started – we continued Forest Bathing programs with Forest Therapy Guide Tam of Toadstool Walks; had fun with Nature Nerd Trivia Nights; re-invigorated the Gift Shop working with local artisans; started a new preschool-aged program for families, Fledgling Fridays to supplement our Knee High Naturalist program; added an artisan fair to our Native Plant Sale; partnered with Patriot Place to lead guided nature walks at the cranberry bog; enjoyed another summer concert with our favorite local band, The Second Precinct Jug Band; started our 70th summer of Nature Day Camp; had an amazing growing year on our 15 year-old organic farm; added Farm Conversations and Cocktails to enjoy the season; worked with friends and an amazing Chef from Farmstead Table Restaurant to highlight the many resources around us in our first Field Meets Fork dinner; welcomed an AmeriCorps team for just over four weeks; enjoyed another Halloween Prowl; developed and ran several nature photography classes; and installed a new electric vehicle charging station thanks to a program through Eversource and the generosity of Horizon Solutions. Like I said, it’s been a good year and this doesn’t even talk about all our school programming and the Youth Climate Summit held with sister sanctuaries Oak Knoll and Stony Brook at Wheaton College. We have a lot to be grateful for this past year.
And yet programming is not all that we do here. We have been charged with stewarding this property – almost 2,000 acres of forest, fields and wetlands. Working with our science team at Mass Audubon and through the efforts of property staff and volunteers, we continued work on several fields removing and keeping down invasive plants. During the Statewide Volunteer Day, we removed debris from the fields and seeded new native flowers and grasses as well as pushing back field edges creating that early forest/field edge habitat that is so needed for a number of native plants and animals. With the help, ideas, and skill of several regular volunteers, we were able to raise the boardwalk through the red maple swamp after it had been under water for almost 6 months following the wet Fall of 2018 and continued wet Spring of 2019. And, thanks to a generous donor, we built and installed a new tower for Chimney Swifts – we truly hope that because we built it they will come.
So how can we accomplish so much? Because of you – our volunteers, our members, our program participants, our shareholders, our visitors, and our donors. As you reflect back on this year, we hope that you find that you enjoyed time in nature on a walk, in a program, at an event, and that you consider making a donation to Moose Hill. Every dollar does count and as you can see, together with you, we can accomplish so much. We thank you for your support.