story by Jane Herz, photos by Sophie Minta True
On Sunday night, cheers were heard from all around the dining room as Ann announced that we would not be having classes the next day, but instead, going on a semester-wide trip to Monhegan Island! Monhegan Island is a beautiful island off the coast of Maine, right across from Pemaquid Point. We woke up early to catch the 9 o’clock ferry to get there, embarking on a relaxing 40-minute cruise, with gorgeous sights of the water and wildlife on the coast.
Once we finally arrived on the island, we broke up into eight groups, each of which were assigned a different topic. Some of these topics included education, waste management, water, food, economics, and art. It was each group’s job to find out about their topic, all while exploring the island. My group’s assigned topic was water, so we interviewed different shopkeepers and locals about how they get their water on the island and how they conserve their water. Exploring and learning about the island was extremely fun and interesting, and interviewing people was great practice for our upcoming Human Ecology Projects!
After each group was finished getting to know the island a little bit better, we all gathered up again to eat lunch at the lighthouse. We sat in a circle, and all the groups shared what they had learned about their topic. It was so fascinating to learn about these different things. Did you know that there are only 45 people who live on the island year round and that energy costs six times more than on the mainland?! It’s safe to say that everyone learned a lot, and by the time it was time to hike a lot of us felt like we knew Monhegan inside and out!
When everyone’s stomachs were full with the delicious lunches we had packed for the day, it was time to burn off those sandwiches and cookies with a hike around the island! On the trails, we saw breathtaking views of the water, seals, whales, and all different types of wildlife. The hike was so beautiful and was a great way to explore the island even more.
(Left) View from the lighthouse, overlooking Monhegan Village.
(Right) View from our hike.
Our last stop on Monhegan was a trip to the Monhegan Brewing Company. Sweaty and tired from our hike, we were instantly refreshed with cool cups of root beer and ginger beer, given to us by the owners of the brewing company, Matt and Mary Weber.
Aside from owning the brewing company, Matt is also a full-time lobsterman on the island. He was kind enough to give us a presentation all about catching lobster and all of the different components that go into it. Matt described a typical day catching lobster, told us a bit more about the island, and even threw in a few of his fishing superstitions! It was really interesting to learn more about the island from a local prospective and talking to Matt really was a great end to the day.
Matt’s lobstering gear.
After we had said our goodbyes to Matt and the island, we hopped back on the ferry and took a very sleepy ride back to Chewonki. Although we were glad to be back at Chewonki, we were still sad to leave Monhegan! Throughout the next few days, we will continue to talk about the things we learned on the island in some of our classes. Our visit to Monhegan was an awesome part of our semester that we will definitely never forget!
Nellie and Minta take a break from hiking to pose.
Chewonki Semester students experience the environmental and cultural diversity of midcoast Maine. Visit our website to learn more about Chewonki Semester School’s place-based education.