Lincoln Academy students in the IDEAL program looking for local plants on the Heritage Trail at Great Salt Bay Preserve, a Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust preserve.

Lincoln Academy’s IDEAL (Innovatively Designed Education for All Learners) program is once again collaborating on an outdoor learning program with the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust (CRCT) in Damariscotta. Every Thursday CRCT Educator Sarah Gladu hosts a Zoom call to teach students about a particular topic.

So far, the group has been focusing on wild Maine edible plants, invasive species, and Maine native plants. On Fridays, the students go into the field and each identify and photograph two plants that they selected from a list of plants in these categories. The students then report back to Gladu with a slide show the following week, presenting their learning and asking questions that they encountered in the field.

“This collaboration has been highly engaging for the students, giving them the opportunity to be outside and learning about the natural environments around them,” said IDEAL program Director Janna Civittolo. The IDEAL program has plans to tackle the removal of invasive plants in surrounding areas. “We learned that our campus has lots of invasive plants, such as Oriental Bittersweet and Japanese Knotweed. We hope to remove the plants, treat the soil, and plant native species with seeds from the Maine Wild Seed Project. Native plants help prevent erosion and can even raise property values.”

IDEAL student Brandon Wellman has been enjoying the program, commenting, “It has been nice to learn about certain plants and trees you might find in the woods.”

Civittolo adds that, “being outside and reflecting on the world around adds another layer to our learning during these challenging times. Collaboration with local organizations like CRCT is a win for all involved.”