More than 100 volunteers and supporters of Friends of Casco Bay attended a Jan. 24 recognition ceremony honoring those who give their time to help protect the environmental health of Casco Bay. The Volunteer Appreciation Celebration was an opportunity for Friends of Casco Bay to thank all its volunteers, including those who monitor the water quality of the Bay, clean up shorelines, stencil storm drains, participate in community outreach events, and serve on its coard.
Citizen Stewards Coordinator Peter Milholland directs the volunteer program.
“Friends of Casco Bay was founded in by volunteers in 1989 to improve and protect the environmental health of Casco Bay, and they are still essential to our mission today,” he said.
Those citizen stewards receiving awards for milestones in Water Quality Monitoring in the 2016 season are:
Andy Bertocci (25 years): Andy is Friends of Casco Bay’s first 25-year Citizen Steward. He started volunteering in 1992, the pilot year of the water quality monitoring program. In addition to helping expand the program into eastern Casco Bay, he worked as the organization’s vessel pumpout program coordinator. He operated the pumpout boat to remove sewage from recreational boats and worked with marinas to establish pumpout facilities throughout Casco Bay. Andy also has had an extensive career in harvesting and processing rockweed, investigating viable uses for this seaweed resource.
Rick Meisenbach (15 years): Growing up, Rick summered on the shores of Casco Bay. He traveled and lived all over the world before deciding that Harpswell, Maine, was the ideal place to settle down and raise a family. He now oversees the water quality at Lookout Point in Harpswell. He and his wife Jane work at The Maine Real Estate Network, specializing in waterfront properties.
Jan and Tom Brudzinski (10 years): Orr’s Island residents Jan and Tom sample water quality on Harpswell Sound at a site that they can see from their house. Jan is a retired teacher. Also retired, Tom now applies his artistic, design, and marketing skills to “telling the stories of Maine lobsters.”
Debbie Debiegun (5 years): As a marine scientist and a science teacher, Debbie loves it when someone asks, “What are you doing?” as she tests the water quality at her site not far from the Muddy Rudder Restaurant in Yarmouth. Deb teaches marine science courses at Maine College of Art and serves on the Board of the Gulf of Maine Marine Education Association.
Carol Nale (5 years): Carol grew up sailing on the South Shore of Massachusetts and settled permanently in Maine after graduating from the University of Maine. Now a Yarmouth resident, she is a retired special education teacher who enjoys kayaking, biking, golf, swimming, skiing, hiking, and “everything that the great Maine outdoors has to offer.” Carol and Deb Debiegun share water quality testing responsibilities on the Cousins River estuary.
Mary Holman (5 years): Mary first became involved in water quality testing in the early 1990s. As a Board member of the Friends of the Royal River, she trained and supervised volunteers doing water quality testing at 28 sites along the Royal River and its tributaries. She and her husband moved to Chebeague Island in 2011, where she monitors two testing sites for Friends of Casco Bay.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer Water Quality Monitor for Friends of Casco Bay can learn more at cascobay.org/water-quality-monitoring. A full-day, Saturday training session for new volunteers will be held in early April on the campus of Southern Maine Community College in South Portland.