Lincoln Academy IDEAL students building a wigwam with the help of educator Sarah Gladu (center)​ at Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust

Lincoln Academy’s IDEAL (Innovatively Designed Education for All Learners) program is partnering with the Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust (CRCT) in Damariscotta for an outdoor education unit on the Wabanaki tribes. As part of the unit, students helped build wigwams based on Wabanaki structures at the CRCT land trust on the Great Salt Bay in Damariscotta.

Outdoor education and service learning make up the core education in the IDEAL program, according to program director Janna Civittolo. “While the students are meeting the LA requirements for their high school diploma, their curriculum is largely hands-on, as that is how most of the students in the program learn best. The Wabanaki unit we are doing in collaboration with CRCT is part of their World Cultures/Social Studies course.”

The IDEAL Program has been collaborating with Coastal Rivers for over six years. In the past, IDEAL students have completed volunteer work, such as removing invasive plants and grooming for the CRCT properties in exchange for the educational support and guidance of Sarah Gladu, Director of Education and Citizen Science at CRCT. “Sarah’s knowledge of so many topics and expertise of our outdoor world has been an inspiration to me and the students. We are very fortunate to have her as a resource in our community,” said Civittolo.

Brandon and Eric building a smoker

IDEAL students building a traditional Wabanaki smoker

Gladu said, “Watching the students learn to bend maple saplings into hoops for the traditional meat smoker and make grass mats from reed canary grass for the wigwam is a joy – they develop a visceral understanding of the plants and animals around us. This is the same knowledge that informed the ancestors of today’s Wabanaki people and shaped their culture. For Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust this is a wonderful partnership, and we are thrilled to be able to continue to offer this programming free of charge.”

Sophomore Brandon Wellman, who helped build a traditional Wabanaki smoker as part of the unit said that he is “looking forward to smoking some meat or shellfish to eat”.

Wellman, along with classmate Steven Baldwin, appreciate learning about the ways of the Wabanaki, “in a more hands-on way, outside, and using tools versus being in a traditional classroom.”