For the last few years, 9-year-old Scottie and 7-year-old Elliot Larsen have explored tide pools, mud flats, salt marshes and other habitats, while learning about the animals and plants that live there, thanks to programs offered by Harpswell Heritage Land Trust (HHLT).
“Especially living in Harpswell, to understand and appreciate our environment is really important,” said the girls’ mother, Dustan Larsen. “For them, as kids, to gain an appreciation for what we have is what’s so important about the programs the Land Trust offers…HHLT programs really inspire kids.”
Both Scottie and Elliott have participated in HHLT’s Nature Day Camp during the summers, as well as programs offered during the school day and before and after school at Harpswell Community School.
Scottie particularly liked raising Atlantic Salmon from eggs to fry in her third grade classroom and then releasing them in a tributary to the Androscoggin River. “I thought it was cool that we could take them out of the tank and look at them closely,” Scottie said. “It feels so good to help out—to protect the environment and help with endangered animals.” She also liked visiting the marine lab at Bowdoin’s Coastal Studies Center during Nature Day Camp, where she saw urchins and baby lobsters.
“Nature camp is awesome!” Elliot chipped in.
“What the Land Trust offers is really unique because it caters to where we live. They are learning about what is all around us,” Dustan added, describing how she’ll be somewhere with her daughters and they will teach her something she didn’t know. “I take my kids outdoors, but I don’t have the knowledge to teach them about what they see. So the land trust’s programs are great for that.”
The Larsen family moved to Harpswell in 2010, though Dustan grew up visiting here. Dustan is the co-owner of Hatch, a gift, antique and vintage shop that recently moved from Orr’s Island to Brunswick. Her husband, Ryan, works in camping product development for L.L. Bean.