Category Archives: Education

Edie Sisson’s Ongoing Impact During 50 Years at Drumlin Farm

Edie Sisson is a Drumlin Farm superstar. She has been teaching at Drumlin Farm for fifty years, and during that time has opened countless people’s eyes to the wonders of nature. She believes in living sustainably, and her household includes chickens, geese, and honeybees, and for many years she provided many thousands of fertilized eggs for incubation to schoolchildren across the state, while her late husband, Tom, served as Drumlin Farm’s beekeeper. She also believes, passionately, in social justice and in the power of an individual to make a difference.

In 2007, she founded the Drumlin Farm Outreach and Assistance Resources (DOAR) program to provide scholarship support to make Drumlin Farm available to schools, families, and others for whom the financial barriers were too high, as well as to increase the diversity and accessibility of our community. Thanks to the DOAR Program, many people have been able to experience the magic of nature and the farm first hand. Seeing wildlife up close, getting your hands dirty in the garden caring for plants, and observing the interconnectedness of the natural world are lessons that last a life time and have inspired many, thanks to Edie’s push for inclusiveness.

On November 20, Drumlin colleagues past and present joined with Edie’s family to celebrate both her 90th birthday and her 50th anniversary at Drumlin Farm with a lunch in her honor.  Just a couple of days before Thanksgiving, it was a perfect opportunity to reflect on all that Edie has brought to our community and give thanks for her!

If you would like to make a gift to the DOAR Fund to help support socially diverse programs at Drumlin Farm, please contact Polly Reeve (preeve@massaudubon.org, 781-259-2239).

Pumpkin Waffles, Made by Cooking Together

The leaves are sparse, the chilling air has set in, and the Drumlin Farm Cooking Together class is preparing to make Drumlin Farm’s seasonal favorite, pumpkin waffles with homemade butter and apple cider syrup. Every week, this class of 3-5 year olds and their parents learn, and enjoy, a new recipe together. Perfect for a fall weekend breakfast, this simple recipe uses a combination of seasonal spices and homemade ingredients to create a meal that you’ll keep coming back for seconds…and thirds…and maybe fourths if there’s enough!

Pumpkin Waffles

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  1. Preheat waffle iron.
  2. Add dry ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. If you’d like to follow along the “Cooking Together” way, feel free to sing a “mixing, mixing, mixing” song along with it.

    Mixing, mixing, mixing!

  3. In a separate large bowl, add wet ingredients and mix together until smooth.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, mixing until combined. 
  5. Spray waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, scoop mixture onto iron, and cook about 3-4 minutes. 

 

While the waffles were cooking, families gathered around circle time to take turns  continuously shaking 1 cup of heavy cream in a mason jar until a solid formed, and we had homemade butter. Our Teachers prepped the serving station with another Drumlin Farm recipe favorite–apple cider syrup.

Apple Cider Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on how tart you like it)
  • 2 table spoons butter
  1. To make the syrup, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in the apple cider and lemon juice and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to boil.
  3. Boil until the syrup thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until melted. Serve warm.

Anxiously awaiting the toppings!

And voila! When the waffles are done cooking you’ll have a deliciously cozy fall favorite. Adorn your own waffle station with the favorite fixings of your choosing and enjoy a breakfast with family, made with love.

Take it from our class, you’re going to want to make enough for second–and thirds! Registration is now open for our next series of Cooking Together classes, starting January 22!

Lining back up for another helping!

The best breakfasts are the ones eaten together with a smile!

 

Back to School with Drumlin Farm

Pencils? Check.

Binders? Check.

Index Cards? Check.

Screech Owl? ….Check!

Education is at the heart of Mass Audubon and Drumlin Farm’s mission to protect the nature of Massachusetts and inspire the next generation. Unique in its position as both a working farm and a wildlife sanctuary, Drumlin Farm has delivered environmental education programs to hundreds of thousands of elementary, middle, and high school students in Massachusetts. Our teacher naturalists work with students to help them develop an appreciation for native plants and animals and their habitats, as well as the relationships of these ecological communities to our agricultural practices. Now that summer camp season is over, it’s time to get back to school and apply that love for the outdoors and natural life to the classroom.

Drumlin Farm Comes to Your School

Drumlin Farm’s Outreach Program brings our teacher naturalists to your school classroom, or guided exploration of your schoolyard or natural areas nearby. Programs may include bringing native wildlife into the classroom or guided exploration of nature areas near your school. Keeping a class’s attention is a breeze when there’s a broad-winged hawk on the presenter’s arm!

Visit Drumlin Farm with Your Class

Our on-site programs offer opportunities to investigate the ecology of New England habitats and the adaptations of animals and plants that live here. During guided explorations of Drumlin Farm’s forests, wetlands, and fields, students ask questions, investigate, collect data, and share conclusions. While students are out exploring, they have opportunities to use scientific tools, make observations, and experience real science in the field.

Homeschool Programs

Maybe back-to-school for you means back to the home classroom. We coordinate customizable Homeschool Programs for our local homeschoolers to encourage children to interact with the environment through nature exploration and science-based learning, as well as with each other through group building and games.

Afterschool Programs

End the school day with dynamic and inquiry-based engagement at our afterschool enrichment experiences. Students learn about field science, local habitats, and wildlife. Individual and series programs are available and may include nature-based crafts, games, literature, storytelling, journaling, and other activities. Students won’t want to leave school when ending with these fun activities!

Our 4-H Programs also provides an opportunity for kids to become more healthy, connected, balanced, and empowered through hands-on activities with farm and nature themes. 4-H participants practice public speaking, participate in service projects, and cook healthy snacks with farm fresh ingredients.

Professional Development for Teachers

Drumlin Farm offers professional development opportunities for teachers at your site and at our wildlife sanctuary. Workshops are designed to give teachers the tools they need in the classroom to create and lead their own inspiring lessons. In our workshops, we use local habitats and native species to explore ecological principals, cross-cutting science concepts, and core earth and life science ideas, as well as how to teach these lessons in the classroom through a hands-on, and inquiry driven approach. We are a DOE-approved PDP provider and offer year-round science education courses to classroom teachers.

 

We invite you to get involved and join the best part of back-to-school. Balance out the homework loads with hands-on experiences in the settings student learn about in science class. The 2018-19 school year is gearing up to be the best year yet with Drumlin Farm!

 

ELC Update: April & May

As we zoom towards our June 9th grand opening, work on the Environmental Learning Center has been progressing with leaps and bounds! It won’t be long until we are able to welcome the public into our wonderful new learning space, but in the meantime, here’s a peek at what’s been happening.

April began with an auspicious beginning, when we discovered a very rusty but hopefully still luck-filled horseshoe deep in the ground beneath what will become our main garden area. We are definitely saving it to hang in the new building!

The highlight of the interior work was definitely the arrival of our millwork – stunning birch cabinetry, desktops, and countertops that were installed throughout the building. We love our benches!

All that shelf space made our ed staff’s eyes light up!

Our favorite feature is definitely the aquarium tanks that line the main greeting area. Look for turtles, tadpoles, or fish coming to this location soon!

As the painting began, the space took on a warm glow that really made it much easier to imagine the finished rooms. Who wouldn’t be inspired to collaborate in a warm rusty red great room like this?

Our FurnCom team has gone above and beyond in finding the perfect furnishings to bring the space to life, as evidenced by the beautiful organic coat rack that feels like art.

The little surprises that pop up over the course of a long project definitely make it all worthwhile. Imagine our delight when the final polishing of the concrete floor revealed the perfect natural feature for space devoted to environmental education? The concrete contractor offered to fill it in, but of course we immediately said this feature must stay with us forever!

May brought us to the major outdoor components of the project, beginning with construction of the path that will lead visitors from parking lot to the new building.

We all got a lesson in how to build a rain garden from the ground up. This beautiful feature in front of the building will channel storm water runoff from the driveway into a channel that allows it to serve native wetland plants as well as to recharge the groundwater.

On the roof, our array of 119 solar panels sprung up seemingly overnight, finishing off our most important feature of net-zero capability.

Even though our project is so focused on the future of Drumlin Farm education, there was still a small sense of loss when it was time to tear down the old Ed Building, home to so much discovery and learning over 60 years. Our staff gathered to say our goodbyes with a bittersweet cheer and thoughts of all the good work that is yet to come.

Within a few days, our thoughts were firmly toward the future as the foundation for our new outdoor classroom began to take shape. Sitting on four concrete piers, the Bluebird Pavilion will be larger than the entire previous Ed Building!

The structure for the pavilion arrived in one huge shipment of enormous beams, designed to hold up a roof that can shelter 10 picnic tables for gathering campers and school groups.

The aluminum knifeplate joints that will connect the pavilion beams to the foundation piers look like modern art – almost too beautiful to use!

And a day later – it’s almost done! Our Chapman crew is working double time to get the pavilion up in time for summer camp.

Remember those knifeplate joints? Just as beautiful when they are fulfilling their function!

As we enter the final weeks of the project, our staff is getting more and more excited to move in and start working in their new home. We can’t wait to see all the innovation yet to come.

Look for final photos of the finished Environmental Learning Center coming very soon! Our grand opening celebration will be held from 1:30-3:00 pm on June 9th, where we will be offering tours of the building as well as a variety of free educational programs to showcase the work that the building enables. We hope to see you there! If you would like to learn more about the project, or get involved yourself, we invite you to check out our project website at massaudubon.org/ELC.

 

Renata Pomponi

Sanctuary Director

Community Preschool Recognized with Excellence Award

From Drumlin Farm Sanctuary Director Renata Pomponi:

Earlier last week I had the pleasure of joining Jill Canelli and Lead Teacher Rina Zampieron at a ceremony at the Massachusetts Statehouse, where Jill and the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool were honored with one of the 2018 Secretary’s Awards for Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education, presented by Matthew Beaton, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

These annual awards recognize achievement in environmental education, which is a testament to the many years of hard work that Jill and the DFCP staff have put into making our preschool a model of how to get kids outside and learning, tapping into their inherent curiosity and enthusiasm and guiding their creativity and passion for our earth. Mass Audubon is excited to see our nature-based preschool receive this statewide recognition, and we thank Jill and all of our teachers for creating such a special and meaningful place for our students to learn. Please join me in congratulating Jill and the Drumlin Farm Community Preschool!

From left to right: Kris Scopinich, Mass Audubon Director of Education; Rina Zampieron,Community Preschool Lead Teacher; Jill Canelli, Community Preschool Director; Renata Pomponi, Sanctuary Director; Mathew Beaton, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs

Inside the Hive: Congratulations Bee School Graduates!

The Drumlin Bee School recently completed its ongoing five week series program and graduated 38 students as new beekeepers. The Drumlin Farm beekeeping series programs teach students everything they need to know about starting and maintaining bee hives at home. Mel Gadd, recently awarded Massachusetts’ Beekeeper Association’s 2017 Beekeeper of the Year, has been leading Drumlin Farm Students and teaching them this rewarding hobby for many years.

Instructor Mel Gadd prepares to open the hive.

The students recently visited some of the hives on the Mass Audubon Headquarters site and practiced installing new bees into two of the hives. Having a healthy population of bees is important for a healthy habitat as they provide many ecological services, most notably in the pollination of flowers and plants. Drumlin Farm, as well as the Mass Audubon Headquarters site across the street, hosts many hives in our fields and forest edges to encourage bee populations and teach program participants about these fascinating insects and their care.

©Cynthia Vogan

Suited up, Mel fills the hives with new bees.

There are many layers and parts within the artificial hives.

Beekeeping for Beginners graduates have the opportunity to advance their skills even further with Intermediate Beekeeping classes but there are many ways visitors can connect with these busy insects and the honey they provide. Children will love our Queen Bee, Honey Bunny, and Apple Honey Harvest programs, as well as the opportunity to focus on the Power of Pollen at Mini Camp. Adults can also have a merry time learning the ancient methods used in making mead, an ancient wine made from honey!

March ELC Progress: Natural Interiors

Just over two months to go, and the Environmental Learning Center is starting to come together! It has been an exciting month as we move from the large-scale fabrication to the small-scale details.

As the snows of February kept falling, the most time consuming task inside was polishing our concrete floors. Every inch was ground and buffed by machines large and small.

The result was a beautiful natural gloss on the floor, with an eco-friendly polish on top that will give us many years of wear. We love the rich color that came out in the concrete, and the gradations of tone that add a lot of texture to the space. And it won’t show the dirt of Drumlin from our boots!

FurnCom, our furniture selection committee, spent some quality time inside the building determining the sizes and configurations of all of the desks, worktables, chairs, and other equipment that it will take to run our busy education hub. Tia Pinney loves how the small conference room is larger than any private meeting space we ever had in the old building!

ColorCom, the color selection committee, has also been hard at work. We love the deep gray of the tile they picked for the bathrooms.

To our surprise, the entire set of millwork (wooden cabinetry) arrived in one gigantic shipment from the fabricator. While it’s a bit of a challenge to match each stick of wood to its rightful spot in the interior detailing, it does make an impressive pile in the great room. Office jenga, anyone?

Piece by piece, the millwork has been going up. The birch gives a clean natural look to the doorframes and interior windows.

Thankfully our builder understands that some decisions need to be made in situ, such as the exact placement of the box shelves over each workstation. We know we’re a bit fussy on the details, but after waiting so long for this new space, we want it to be perfect!

We know our teacher-naturalists are going to love their new storage cubbies! More birch details echo throughout the building, including the bookcases, workstation tabletops, and doors.

Look for more updates coming soon. If you would like to learn more about the project, or get involved yourself, we invite you to learn more here.

Renata Pomponi

Sanctuary Director

Inside the Hive with Massachusetts Beekeepers Association’s Beekeeper of the Year: Mel Gadd

Have you ever tried Drumlin Farm honey? Our bees work hard to pollinate our crops along with providing us with delicious honey, all under the watchful eye of our beekeeper, Mel Gadd. We’re proud to announce that Mel was recently named the 2017 Beekeeper of the Year by the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association.

Mel Gadd has been keeping bees a little over ten years in Cambridge, MA. He has been involved with the Essex County Beekeepers Association (ECBA)  for the past ten years, as Chair of the ECBA Bee School in 2015 and is on his second term as an ECBA Board of Director.

Mel maintains over twenty hives, with three located in his own backyard and three at schools where he works with the 1st and 5th graders as his beekeepers. He started major beekeeping programs at Drumlin Farm, both in the fields, as well as established an educational program on the bees as part of Drumlin’s regular programming. This includes a five-week Bee School where Mel teaches participants everything they need to know about how to keep bees, and maintaining many hives at Drumlin.

The 2018 Drumlin Farm Beekeeping for Beginners held its first class on the last Tuesday of February. The class was full with 38 students who were totally enthralled with the idea of keeping honey bees during the upcoming season. The idea of the class is to prepare students so that at the end of the five weeks in classroom and one day in the field, they will be able to start their beekeeping experience. Intermediate Beekeeping with Mel starts the last Tuesday in April, with registration currently open.

Mel Gadd teaching at a full class of soon-to-be beekeepers

Mel has also been involved with some of the non-traditional types of hives (top bar, Warre & Slovenian hives) and has been teaching about these at a number of forums in the region. At Drumlin, Mel has also been conducting studies using mushroom spores as an organic way to minimize/eliminate varroa mites.

Recently, he was awarded Massachusetts Beekeepers Association’s 2017 Beekeeper of the Year Award. As an integral part of our farm-to-food programming and honey supply, we congratulate Mel and invite our community to learn from the best at one of his upcoming programs. Check back in for periodical “Inside the Hive” updates from Mel and his busy bee’s as they prepare for the upcoming season and learn about this fun hobby and important skill.

Beekeeper checking on their hive.

ELC Progress: Insulation, Design, and Thawing Grounds

February has brought more progress to the Environmental Learning Center job site, which has been humming with activity amid the storms and gray skies of winter. With just about three months to go until the grand opening, there is lots happening both inside and out.

The most noticeable progress has been on the outside of the building, with the installation of a beautiful combination of cedar and aluminum siding. Our staff loves the “rustic red” color against the beauty of the wood.

The Chapman Construction/Design crew had some natural challenges to face when we went through a thaw. Got to admire their creativity in finding pathways across the mud!

Indoors, the major milestone of the month was the completion of the insulation. In addition to all the rigid foam that lines the walls, ceiling, and foundation, pounds and pounds of cellulose insulation (made from recycled newspaper) was blown into the ceiling and wall cavities. It took about a week to get all the gaps filled up, but now we’re confident that this building will be our most energy efficient ever!

Evaluating whether the machines have blown in the right amount of cellulose is an interesting business. Too much insulation and the walls might bow from the weight; too little and there would be gaps where cold air could seep through. It turns out that the best method is fairly low tech: Bob the site supervisor built a one-cubic-foot box and filled it with insulation to the specified weight. First you pat the box to get a feel for (literally) how much the right amount should compress…

…then you pat the walls or ceilings to judge whether they match the box. It may seem like an inexact science, but apparently our sense of touch is good enough to be fairly accurate in this case! Mass Audubon’s Capital Projects Manager Stu thinks they got it just right.

Once the insulation was complete, it is time for the walls. Sheetrock is starting to appear along the hallways and rooms, further defining the spaces where so much great educational ideas will take shape.

In parallel, the behind-the-scenes plumbing and electrical work has been finishing up, ready to be walled in but still appreciated for its tidy and functional construction.

Finally, our design team has been busy making decisions on a weekly basis on the colors, textures, and finishes that will give the space the right ambiance. We’ve settled on a very natural color palette that reflects both the landscape of Drumlin Farm and our farm-y roots, with some practical aspects like an entrance mat that kind of matches the dirt that we know will be on our boots from our time in the pastures and fields.

Look for more updates coming soon. If you would like to learn more about the project, or get involved yourself, we invite you to learn more at massaudubon.org/environmental-learning-center.

 

Best,

Renata Pomponi

Sanctuary Director

2018 New Year’s Resolution: Be a Nature Hero

Start 2018 with a resolution that is achievable and benefits yourself and the environment – resolve to be a nature hero! Nature heroes are people who, in big and small ways, make a lasting, positive impact on the natural world. They don’t wear capes and fly, but instead work on making the world a better place by taking responsibility for their actions. As we look to the new year ahead, you’ll find there are many ways you can do your part and join the mighty Mass Audubon nature heroes:

  1. Ride your bike or walk to close locations instead of driving. Added bonus if this helps you meet a health related resolution!
  2. Conserve water by taking shorter showers.
  3. Only run the laundry or dishwasher when the load is full to conserve water.
  4. Use a reusable water bottle. Save money and plastic by not having to buy plastic water bottles frequently. Switching to a reusable thermos will also reduce your waste and save money from your morning caffeine fix.
  5. Bring reusable bags to the grocery store and decline bags when you’re not buying much and don’t need one.
  6. Conserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  7. Take the bus or train instead of driving to work.
  8. Turn off the lights when you’ll be out of the room for more than 15 minutes.
  9. Look into reusable energy options for your heating and electric bills.
  10. Switch to LED light bulbs.
  11. Unplug chargers when not using them to reduce phantom energy. Even better, unplug entirely and charge your phone with a solar powered phone charger.
  12. Buy local produce. When buying local, the energy it takes to transport food is minimized and food waste is reduced. Drumlin Farm produce is grown using a number of sustainable practices including compost use and focusing on soil health.
  13. Reduce your meat intake to one meal a day, or once a week.
  14. Recycle glass, cans, and plastic whenever you can.
  15. Pick up and throw away any trash that you come across outside.

Can you think of any other achievable nature-based resolutions you can make? More often than not, the driving force behind making these changes comes from within. In 2018, try to get outside more and really engage with the natural elements – resolve to hike more, take a camping trip, or pick up birding. Learn how to forage in the forest, track animals, or ID plants and wildlife. The natural stress relievers of the great outdoors and physical activity of exploration will spark the craving to continue. You’ll start to walk through a simple woods and notice the landscape is not just a blur of green, but each tree, shrub, and sprout has a distinct signature that sets them apart. Inspiration and motivation to make big and small changes will blossom and a nature hero will grow.

From all of us at Drumlin Farm, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year and look forward to a positive 2018!