News & Events

Winter 2014 Newsletter

December 30th, 2014

CREA 2014 Fall:Winter Newsletter

Upcoming Community Nature Programs

August 6th, 2014

These programs are family friendly, FREE, and open to the public. They are held at the Topsham Public Library the last Tuesday of each month from 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm. For more information, email

September 30

Inspired By Nature

How are people drawing on the wisdom of nature to solve human problems?  Join Matt Dubel, Executive Director of CREA, as he shares the stories of eco-innovators who are using nature as a model for everything from growing food to designing products to making decisions.


October 28

Gray Fox: “Tree Fox”

An almost mythical creature, the Gray Fox has a brownish-red chest and sides, and gray back. They are quite different from Red Fox in their stout, more powerful build, unique coloration, and their ability to climb trees!  Come hear more about the oh-so-interesting and territorial Gray Fox from professional Wildlife Biologist Sean Moriarty.


November 25

Chewonki Presents: Predators! (LIVE ANIMALS)

Although often misunderstood, predators can ultimately hold the key to the overall health of our ecosystems.  The Chewonki Foundation will be on hand to illustrate this concept of intricate balance with a live owl, bat, and turtle ambassador.

Bring the whole family to this live-animal, interactive program!

June 1: Wind Over Wings Program at UU Church

May 19th, 2014

The Brunswick Unitarian Universalist Church, and Cathance River Education Alliance are joining together to co-sponsor a very special event.

Wind Over Wings
Character and Courage: Lessons Learned From Eagles

Sunday, June 1, 2:00 – 3:00 PM

Held at the newly rebuilt Brunswick Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Middle Street.

Our event will feature the renowned and exceptionally talented Wind Over Wings founder Hope Douglas. This is a special presentation about eagles, their amazing character, and their stories of courage after injury.

Come meet the live Golden Eagle Skywalker, and hear about the two injured Bald Eagles currently being cared for at Wind Over Wings. Featured also will be three other live birds, the Eastern Screech Owl, the American Kestrel, and Zachariah the Common Raven.

Hope Douglas founded the nonprofit organization Wind Over Wings about twenty years ago. Wind Over Wings brings birds into classrooms, homes, conference centers, auditoriums, and places of worship for environmental education programs. Birds in their care are unable to survive in the wild. Each of them inspires us with their stories of courage, adaptability, and resilience. Programs are conducted by trained educators.

This program is FREE and family friendly. All interested members of the public are invited to attend. There is limited church parking. Come early to assure parking and seating. This is also a great opportunity to see the new church, which has been newly rebuilt after a tragic fire on June 6th, 2011.

Watch Hope’s interview on 207

You won’t want to miss this very special community event!

CREA Seeking Volunteers

July 17th, 2013

CREA is a vibrant, community-based non-profit organization seeking interested individuals for committees, the board of directors, or for short-term defined projects. We are looking for people with a passion for environmental education and the operation of a nature preserve. Interested persons and anyone with a questions should contact CREA's president, Louisa Edgerton, at

Mt. Ararat biology students to share findings from fall CREA field studies

January 24th, 2012

Article originally appeared in The Times Record.

Mt. Ararat High School teacher Glenn Evans’ honors biology students, as a part of their ecology and environment unit, visited the Cathance River Preserve and ecology center weekly last fall to conduct field study research.
Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) educator Cheryl Sleeper and several area professional mentors, including local scientists and professionals from Stantec, University of Maine Cooperative Extension and the Maine State Forest Service, worked with the students.
“Working in small groups, with help from their teacher and mentors, students designed a scientific study and collected data for their study weekly,” a CREA release states.
The projects ran for the first quarter of this school year.
To kick off CREA’s 2012 monthly Community Program series, the students will give presentations about their work at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at Topsham Public Library on Foreside Road. The presentations will include a digital poster, lab report and a short, student-produced I-movie.
The eight topics that students researched include:

  • Terrestrial Insect Sampling by Jake Papa and Jake Demosthenes.
  • An ongoing study, Forest Inventory Growth Plot, conducted by Shea Nelson, Marie Ring and Zach Collins, mentored by Kevin Doran.
  • A Mammal Study, conducted by Jonah Levy, Bru Abreu and Cat Johnson, mentored by Stantec professionals Steve Pelletier and Adam Gravel.
  • Cathance River Water Level and Quality Monitoring, conducted by Ellison Etnier, Emma Vernard and Emma Cota, mentored by Glenn Evans.
  • Habitat Hole Project, undertaken by students Sam Wood and Nick Rogers, mentored by Stantec professionals Steve Pelletier and Adam Gravel.
  • A Butterfly Project, conducted by students Liz Kneebone, Jessica Wright and Danielle Krause, mentored by Sarah Sparks.
  • A Mushroom Project, led by Saree Boutin, Maggie Broughton and Connie Hodge, mentored by Cheryl St. Pierre.
  • A Dragonfly Study, conducted by Belle Fall and Izzy Leon, mentored by David Reed.

Monthly CREA programs will take place on the last Tuesday of each month and represent an ongoing collaboration between CREA and the Topsham Public Library. This year’s topics include programs on the Maine black bear, live bird presentations, vernal pools, Cathance River history, dragonflies, local geology, insects and the movie “Mother Nature's Child.”
Visit for more information.

Brunswick High School Class of 1961 Donates Underwater Video Camera

January 11th, 2012

After recently celebrating their 50th class reunion, the Brunswick High School Class of 1961 decided to give something back to their alma mater. Intrigued by an independent study in Ecology which Brunswick High School Seniors Baxter Worthing, Sam Katz, and Cece Carey-Snow were conducting, the class made a generous donation to their project after raising funds through a silent auction.
The students, in conjunction with Brunswick High School teachers Andrew McCullough, Rick Wilson, and the Cathance River Education Alliance purchased a Delta Vision Industrial underwater video camera. The camera will enable them to view and record the world of aquatic species in the Cathance River. Use of the camera is one of many field study experiences which the students are conducting.

"This independent study is a great opportunity for students to learn in a diverse environment outside the classroom where they can experience data collection in the field with professionals," says Andrew McCullough Brunswick High School biology teacher and one of the advisors for the Independent Study.

Besides their work with the camera, the students are also conducting field studies in telemetry tracking of painted turtles, grass regeneration on the Cathance River, and baiting and maintaining a remote animal camera.
"I never thought that in my high school experience I would be able to learn this much outside of the classroom. This independent study is changing my view of education," says Baxter Worthing.

Cathance River Nature Preserve Featured in Book

January 5th, 2012

See the Cathance River Nature Preserve featured on pages 32-34 in Best Nature Sites of Midcoast Maine:

Youth Leaders Launch Grass Restoration Project

July 8th, 2011

While most of their peers were happily sleeping away the first morning of summer vacation, four local teens celebrated the end of the school year this Friday with a 6 am wake-up call, spending the day knee-deep in river water to initiate a grasses restoration project at the Head of Tide.

Having studied the benthic zone – the lowest level of a body of water– for a science project earlier this year, Sam Katz and Baxter Worthing found their research hit close to home. And as Environmental Youth Leaders with the Cathancre River Education Alliance, a year-round program fostering ecological responsibility among area high school students, they decided to do something about it. “Many benthic marine organisms enjoy grasses on the [river] bottom because it provides a shelter many other things can’t. Because of carp, an invasive species, there’s been a major decline in the amount of benthic fauna in this area of the Cathance River,” Baxter explained. “So, we planted more.”

Put that way, it sounds simple. It wasn’t.

Together with fellow EYL members Liz Washington and Jimmy Kenyon, and with the guidance of Bowdoin professor John Lichter, they developed a plan to best remedy the situation. Using a remote camera, the students first monitored water levels to determine an area with the correct amount of exposure, before staking out three separate plots: one for high density coverage, the second for lower density, and the last to remain as a control. Friday morning was spent planting hundreds of sprouts of tide grass, a native species more commonly known as eel grass.

The four will be returning to Head of Tide every two weeks this summer to determine which planting density works best in comparison to the amount of marine life other than the grasses themselves. They will be looking at the survival of the plants themselves and also which density is better for marine organisms, such as minnows – a good indicator of the presence of different species. In the fall, the group will harvest seeds from the grasses to grow over the winter… and start all over again.

CREA thanks the Merrymeeting Bay Trust, Horizon Foundation and Davis Conservation Foundation, as well as its members, for supporting these and similar endeavors. We couldn’t do it without your help.
For more information on CREA or the Environmental Youth Leadership program, visit or call (207) 504-7288.

Announcing Open Hours at the Cathance River Ecology Center

June 9th, 2011

In 2000, an agreement between Central Topsham Associates, LLC and the citizens’ group Topsham’s Future established the 235-acre Cathance River Preserve. The non-profit Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) was founded at the same time to encourage the use of the Preserve for ecological education.

More than a decade later, CREA has become known for hands-on environmental education programs in the classroom and at the preserve’s Ecology Center: its Environmental Youth Leadership program and popular Vacation Nature Camp series, adult workshops at the Preserve and lecture series held at the Topsham Public Library. Over five miles of trails - showcasing a richly diverse wild river habitat – are open to the public from dawn to dusk.

CREA’s Ecology Center will now be open for all to enjoy, holding public open hours each Sunday in June from 11 am to 3 pm. A recycled Civil War era post and beam barn transported from New York, the Center boasts numerous green features, such as recycled materials and clay-finished walls. Concepts of energy and sustainability come alive while you tour our entirely off-grid facility, with a rooftop photo voltaic system and wind turbine producing renewable energy, a solar thermal sheet and bio mass stove to provide heating, and a rain barrel and gutter system to supply non-potable water.

Inside, there is plenty more to explore. The Center is a science lab, with microscopes, specimens, and skeletons; a field study outpost, with field guides, animal displays, and a remote wildlife camera; a historic site, teaching about feldspar mining at nearby quarries; and a weather station. CREA’s extensive library includes resources for all ages.

CREA is hosting Open Hours at the Ecology Center throughout the month of June: Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm. Visitors can learn about the center’s green features, explore field guides, animal specimens, and geology, or watch footage from a remote wildlife camera. Come by to say hello and discover the building that teaches.

For more information on the open hours or how to become a member, visit, or call (207) 891-8341.

Times Record – Grant boosts water monitoring research

October 1st, 2010

The Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) has received a $1,500 grant from Battelle Memorial Institute to further its water-monitoring efforts and wildlife studies along the Cathance River.
According to an announcement about the grant, CREA initiated water-monitoring projects along the Cathance as far back as 2000 and today continues the work with input and insight from Bowdoin College, local high school biology teachers, natural resource planners and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, among others.
Peter Lea, associate professor of earth and ocean sciences at Bowdoin College, has worked with CREA on water monitoring since 2000. He and his students helped establish the first five data collection points along the Cathance River, which have now expanded to 10, including an underwater data-logger at the head-of-tide.
CREA's environmental youth leaders use Bowdoin College's laboratory during the summer for their studies.
Data from these sites is posted directly onto the "Maine Watershed Web," a website sponsored by Bowdoin College. The underwater data-logger transmits data via cell phone all day throughout the year and the results can be seen by visiting
Scott Libby, an environmental scientist at Battelle's Brunswick office, said: "Battelle, as one of the largest nonprofit, research and development companies in the U.S., focuses their grants toward local advancement of science, technology, and education. The CREA Cathance River study combines these aspects through their involvement with local high schools and collaboration with Bowdoin College. I am happy that Battelle has seen fit to support CREA's efforts and look forward to volunteering in this effort in the future."
CREA plans to use the grant funding to refine and expand current testing practices, according to a release from the alliance. The underwater data-logger measuring water temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen saturation and concentration, among other things, will be recalibrated to assure accuracy.

CREA also plans to add additional data-loggers upstream of the Cathance River to expand the scope of the project. These additional data points will help to assess the impact of nutrients in runoff. A final part of the expansion will include installation of a new heat and motion sensor "deer cam" to help better record the activity of deer, beavers, muskrats, raccoons, otters, minks and weasels along the river banks.
"We are thrilled to have a partner like Battelle recognize our efforts and excited to improve upon our monitoring efforts," Rick Wilson, CREA's executive director, said in a statement.