As the Discovery Center reopened this spring, new exhibits welcomed visitors inside. Live streaming from the Reserve’s osprey camera gave children and families the chance to see a nesting osprey pair up close, as the male and female birds of prey prepared the nest, watched over their eggs, and finally, fed their offspring and taught them to fly. The “Becoming a saltmarsh scientist” exhibit allowed visitors to pull on waders and lab coats and use the tools a researcher would to study marsh life.
Outside the Center, free “Grab and Go” educational kits have been available for all visitors, children learning remotely, and summer adventurers. More than 5,500 have been passed out since the program began last December. Improvements at the Wellenberger Woods natural play area allowed for even more space for children, their parents, and grandparents to gather outdoors.
Meanwhile, meetings with landscape ecologists and foresters have helped guide plans for sustainable landscaping at the water’s edge, with plans to start removing invasive species and undergrowth this fall. And work across the Center’s campus continues, with the installation of a sensory garden, more accessible structures, and improved paths being completed this fall.
None of this work – inside, out of doors, on the water, and around the Reserve – would have been possible without your support.
In 2020 we set an ambitious goal, and you answered the call. With your support we raised more than $40,000 toward supporting the Reserve and Great Bay. Your generosity also permitted work that is less visible, including studies of salt marsh sparrows in coastal New Hampshire. Saltmarsh sparrows are a species of concern in the state because they only breed in saltmarshes, and saltmarshes are in danger of drowning due to sea level rise. Staff also continued the analysis of eDNA in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, learning about the diversity of species that live in the Bay and tributaries. The three years of data will provide valuable insight over time on changes in the system.
Reserve staff continued work on a soundscape monitoring program to assess biodiversity, phenology and animal and bird activity around the estuary. The soundscape boxes coupled with wildlife cameras are up in three different habitats around the Reserve: saltmarsh, freshwater wetland, and upland forest, and have started collecting data.
And while the Stewards put our Estuary Explorers field trip program on hold in the spring, we are thrilled to bring more than 400 children from socioeconomically challenged schools to the Discovery Center this fall.
We are so grateful to all you have made possible – to making the Center and its grounds even more special, making science fun and accessible to children through the Seacoast and beyond, and supporting important research into the plants and animals that call Great Bay home. Thank you for being a Steward.