Building Community Bridges With Natural History

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Chewonki Traveling Natural History Program educator Jessica Woodend recently made an “Owls of Maine” presentation to an enthusiastic audience at Mobius, a nonprofit organization in Damariscotta, Maine, that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Along with members of the Mobius community were fourth-graders from Mr. Stephen Roy’s class at Damariscotta’s Great Salt Bay Community School.

Attendees examine a preserved owl claw

Rebecca Emmons, executive director of Mobius, says this kind of event is “focused on bringing together different generations and different abilities,” says Emmons. “I want it to be fun, whimsical, creative, something that triggers the curiosity of everyone. My hope is that it will create bridges between the students and Mobius clients…so when they see each other around town, they will smile and say hello.”

Woodend says “It was not challenging to engage the audience as a whole, because there is a shared fascination of wildlife that transcends age and abilities. It was truly a lot of fun.” Woodend enjoyed watching how “some of the kids walked right in and said hi to the adults who were there.” She also relished seeing Savannah, whom Woodend describes as “a Mobius superstar,” react to having an owl “right in front of her. The look on her face was pure joy.”

Savannah did most of the event organizing and hosting, with support from Mobius Program Manager Crystal Gonzaleza. “Savannah also created some owl artwork to display before the presentation,” says Woodend. “She was very excited to see owls and knew so much about them. Snowy owls are her favorite.”

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