Published on October 11, 2022

Summer of Support

Showing off a shell on the bow of a boat

This summer we were able to bring our community together to celebrate the natural world and raise funds to support all of Felix Neck’s initiatives. The sanctuary started to buzz as early as May but truly kicked into gear by July with Sanctuary Supper, an Evening Eating for the Planet at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. It was a beautiful night with love for planet and people filling the air. After another busy and challenging year, it was uplifting and affirming to see our community come out to support our work towards conserving Island nature. With Education Manager Josey Kirkland and Ben Hughes hosting the live auction, and serenading us with their musical talents, we were able to raise over 60K in funds that support scholarships for local students to ensure equitable access to programming at Felix Neck and to help support all our Climate Education Programs.

The moon rose, the stars twinkled, and joy filled the field as we celebrated the many ways that climate action can be delicious. With everything from wild drinkables—made using foraged ingredients and a special brew that Bad Martha crafted with Felix Neck wild Sea Pickle—to the local, regeneratively grown meals handcrafted by Kyleen Keenan, it was the perfect reminder that taking action against the climate crisis ensures our health as well as our planet’s.

The community celebrations continued with the sanctuary's second Amity Shark Race. Hand-crafted wooden shark fins raced through Sengekontacket Pond vying for the coveted Amity Shark Trophy. It was an exciting race, with Shark #69 pulling ahead in the final moments and taking the win for the Stapleton family.

The Chum Bucket award, featuring a seal stuffie to "bait" a faster shark for next year’s race, went to the very last shark to cross the finish; it was won by the Fournier Family. It all went swimmingly and while the sharks are resting for now, they will soon start preparing for next year's race with a rigorous training schedule!

To close out the summer we held Foot It for Felix, a 5K trail course through the beautiful expanse of the sanctuary. With almost 100 participants, our many trails were filled with people of all ages running and walking as well as the encouraging cheers of volunteers. Everyone completed the course to erupting applause as they crossed the finished line and got their well-deserved tree cookie medals.

Another great summer in the book! Camp was at full capacity with nine counselors teaching campers about Martha’s Vineyard natural history. Summer programs, led by our seasonal teacher naturalist, Megan, were well attended. And of course, none of this would have been possible without support from our amazing volunteers.

Over on our sister island, Nantucket, this summer brought the biggest team Lost Farm has ever seen! Our Youth Environmental Stewards program grew to three students, Sarah, Dylan, and Shea, who worked alongside Molly, our new Program Specialist, to care for our wildlife sanctuaries and engage with conservation efforts across Nantucket. Highlights from our work this summer included mapping all the trails at our Lost Farm Wildlife Sanctuary, posting road boundary markers to show visitors where the many Mass Audubon properties on Nantucket are, and protecting Bicknell's Hawthorn (crataegus bicknellii) saplings, an endemic tree species, with fencing to prevent over-browsing.

In 2022, the Coastal Waterbird Program protected 22 pairs of piping plovers, 23 pairs of American oystercatchers, 526 pairs of least terns, 648 pairs of common terns, and 150 pairs of roseate terns on Nantucket, Muskeget, and Martha’s Vineyard. Notable CWP-monitored sites include Lobsterville Beach and Muskeget Island. Lobsterville Beach had the most piping plover nests out of all Island sites the program monitors with four pairs producing eleven nests. Three of these nests hatched in late July and fledged seven chicks, the most from one Islands CWP site in 2022. Muskeget Island represents a globally significant nesting site for the federal endangered roseate tern in addition to being one of the five largest common tern colonies in Massachusetts (pending 2022's finalized census results.) The potential successful fledging of roseate tern chicks represents a major development for the northeast U.S. population of the species. This colony represents the new largest re- occuring or returning roseate tern colony in the Atlantic region in the past 15-20 years.

The program’s success this year wouldn’t have been possible without the efforts of our seasonal Islands CWP staff: Kirsten Stemmler, Nate Prego, Maddie Taylor, and Zach Goddard as well as our dedicated volunteers!