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Community Engagement

Connecting with the Community: Volunteers, Education, and Outreach

A wry journalist once asked us, “If you are the Casco Baykeeper, then where do you keep the Bay?”

Our response: “In the public eye.”

Outreach projects such as presentations, forums on emerging issues, reports and guides, coastal cleanups, and stenciling storm drains with the message “Don’t dump! Drains to Casco Bay,” help rally the community around Casco Bay.

Education is a vital part of Friends of Casco Bay’s work to protect the health of our coastal waters. Each year, our presentations, community events, and public service projects reach more than 2,400 people directly; many thousands more hear our message through online efforts, mail, and traditional media.

Our educational and outreach efforts take many forms and are tailored for many audiences.

BayScaping

BayScaper Sign in Garden
If you use lawn care practices that eliminate the need for pesticides and fertilizers, please come by our office on the Southern Maine Community College Campus to get our new BayScaper sign.

Our BayScaping program is about growing green lawns that keep Casco Bay blue. We are educating residents and decision makers about the harmful effects of lawn care chemicals—pesticides and fertilizers—while recommending Bay-friendly alternatives. We continue to work with concerned citizens in towns around the Bay to help explore ordinances aimed at reducing the use of lawn chemicals.

Casco Bay Curriculum

Classroom teachers and parents both play essential roles as educators in building an appreciation for protecting the health of the Bay in younger generations. Twenty curriculum activities and supporting background materials help teachers connect the value of our estuary with ways they can help reduce impacts from climate change and the changing chemistry of our coastal waters.  We have tailored some activities as lessons parents can use at home. Check out our Kids’ Corner on the the Casco Bay Curriculum page.

Baykeeper Speaker Series

Casco Baykeeper Ivy Frignoca speaks at many community events.

We deliver our stewardship message at a variety of public education events, from informal neighborhood socials to presentations to civic and community organizations. Learn more or request one of our speakers here.

Casco Bay Matters

We host periodic presentations and panel discussions on issues of current concern though our Casco Bay Matters series, open to the public.

Pumpout Program

Pumpout Coordinator Jim Splude operates Baykeeper II, our mobile pumpout vessel, which services recreational boats at marinas and moorings from South Portland to Freeport. Since 1995, our pumpout vessel has kept nearly 180,000 gallons of sewage from marine toilets from going into the Bay.

Champions for Casco Bay

Through training workshops and “Bay Papers”—one page primers to help you engage in conversations about  issues facing the Bay—we are inspiring our volunteers to think of themselves as ambassadors and advocates, sharing information, data, and actions with their friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. Become a champion here.

Coastal Cleanups

If you want to make a hands-on difference in the health of Casco Bay, join us for a couple of hours at a coastal cleanup. Cleanups are a core component of Friends of Casco Bay’s volunteer opportunities.

Stencil storm drains with the message “Do not dump—drains to Casco Bay”

Kids Storm Drain Stenciling
Stenciling storm drains is a great community service project. Photo from Friends School of Portland

Storm drains are a tempting place for residents to dump dangerous pollutants, “out of sight, out of mind.”  Our storm drain stenciling program trains volunteer groups about the fine art—and science!—of keeping pollution out of storm drains. We lend our stenciling kits, with informational door hangers and other supporting outreach materials, to community groups at no charge.

Public Inquiries

Responding to unexpected situations is fundamental to the environmental watchdog role we play in our community. Calls from concerned citizens often require us dropping the task at hand to hop aboard our Baykeeper boat to investigate. We try to help the community to be prepared for the unexpected, such as what would likely happen if a major oil spill occurs in Portland Harbor. If you ever have a question or see something concerning please contact the appropriate staff member.

Help us engage the community as we work together to tackle the biggest threats to the Bay

Read more about our Community Engagement work:

BayScaping Takes Root in the Community

October 29, 2018

  We first met Jesse O’Brien of Down East Turf Farms when South Portland was considering passing an ordinance to limit the use of pesticides. Jesse is a practicing agronomist, who says, “If you want to get good turf, you need to start with good soil.” Initially, Jesse expressed concern… Read more

Top 11 reasons to attend our Wild & Scenic Film Festival

September 18, 2018

Wild & Scenic Film Festival Saturday, November 3 3-7 p.m University of Southern Maine 88 Bedford Street, Portland Tickets are on sale now $30 in advance $35 at the door, if available It’s our 11th Film Festival, so here are the Top 11 reasons to attend: #11   Be proud that you are supporting Friends of Casco Bay by… Read more

Become a Water Reporter and report what you see on Casco Bay

August 6, 2018

Want to get outside, take photos that may help protect the health of Casco Bay, and connect with other community members? We invite you to join our new volunteer Observing Network, Water Reporter, an exciting way to share what you see around the Bay. In 2016 and 2017, we saw a concerning increase in the number… Read more

Coastal Cleanup at Bug Light Park for International Coastal Cleanup Day

July 12, 2018

Join us at Bug Light Park for International Coastal Cleanup Day! When: Saturday, September 15, 2018, 9 AM – Noon Where: Bug Light Park Questions? Email Sarah at slyman [at] cascobay [dot] org Do you want to help keep Casco Bay clean? Volunteer to help out at our public coastal cleanup! Trash… Read more

Casco Bay begins in your backyard

April 27, 2018

Friends of Casco Bay has been a strong advocate for municipal ordinances to reduce the use of lawn care chemicals. As the grass turns green, we are celebrating a series of milestones in our effort to protect the Bay from pesticides and fertilizers: The City of South Portland Pesticide Use… Read more

Wild and Scenic Film Festival

April 1, 2018

Advance tickets for our Wild & Scenic Film Festival are sold out, but you still have the opportunity to buy tickets and attend the event! We will have a limited number of tickets available on Saturday, November 3, the day of the event. Tickets will be sold first come, first served. Doors will open at 3 p.m. Read more