Hall Students Going ‘Ponding,’ with Help from Maine Audubon and PEF


Hall Elementary School students on Sept. 28 will visit Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm to study how living things survive in and around a pond and the human impact on that ecosystem. The field trip is made possible by a grant from the Maine Audubon Grant for Teachers pilot program, a collaboration between Maine Audubon and the Portland Education Foundation.

PORTLAND, Maine – On Thursday, Sept. 28, nearly 40 Hall Elementary School first- and second-graders will go “ponding” at Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm in Falmouth. Teacher Kristen Wyatt said students will learn all about pond life and will work to answer the question: “How do living things thrive and survive in and around the pond, and what is the human impact on this ecosystem?”

The field workshop will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and will be led by Maine Audubon educators, who have been working with the teachers to support this learning unit at Hall, said Eric Topper, director of education for Maine Audubon.

“The students are studying Maine wildlife and habitat, the conservation of which is Maine Audubon’s mission through education and outreach like this,” Topper said. “This program is also an example of the rich learning landscape in and around Portland, and the productive community partnerships rallying untold resources for Portland kids.”

The ponding program at Hall is made possible by a grant from the new Maine Audubon Grant for Teachers pilot program, a collaboration between Maine Audubon and the Portland Education Foundation (PEF). PEF is an independent nonprofit organization committed to raising philanthropic support to enhance education in the Portland Public Schools.

“Maine Audubon helps teachers serve roughly ten PEF grants each school year under PEF’s general grant-making, and last spring the two organizations joined forced to raise and administer funds specifically for teachers seeking to partner with Maine Audubon. One particular goal of this partnership was to enable outdoor fieldwork like this in September and October,” Topper said.

“We were thrilled to have won the grant,” Wyatt said. “The grant is for $580 and covers the cost of our field trip and both the pre- and post-visit. This gives our students the opportunity to see pond life up close and reap the benefits of having the Audubon close by.”

Maine Audubon educator Karen Arno visited classes prior to the children’s visit, in order to educate students about pond life, Wyatt said. “While on the field trip, students will be split into groups where they will rotate through stations,” she said. “They will have the opportunity to study specimens local to Maine pond life, scoop pond water and look at collections, and study threatened or endangered aquatic animals. Karen will then return to the children’s classrooms for a post-visit to discuss what happens in a winter pond, guiding children to discover how the animals survive and what their needs are during the cold winter months.”

The students, teachers, chaperones and Maine Audubon educators are expected to be joined on the site Thursday by Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana; Executive Director of PEF Kate Snyder; Marnie Morrione, member of the Portland Board of Public Education; and Maine Audubon’s Executive Director Andy Beahm.



Tess Nacelewicz
Communications Coordinator
Portland Public Schools
(207) 874-8173Eric M. Topper II
Maine Audubon Director of Education
(207) 221-8972Kate Snyder Executive Director
Portland Education Foundation
(207) 842-4658