News & Events

CREA Hires New Executive Director

December 18th, 2013

CREA ED Matt DubelThe Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) is pleased to announce that we have hired Matt Dubel as Executive Director. Matt took over the leadership of this Topsham-based environmental education organization following a brief transition with Interim Executive Director Ron Hall following the departure of long-time ED Rick Wilson last January. Ron led CREA most skillfully for the past 9 months, as CREA’s Board of Directors searched for an Executive Director to help the organization grow into the future.

CREA’s Transition Committee interviewed several applicants for the position. “We are feeling very lucky and excited to have found someone of Matt’s caliber to carry on Rick’s legacy,” says Board President Louisa Edgerton. “He is bright, passionate and full of the energy we need to continue CREA’s great work in the Brunswick/Topsham community.”

Matt Dubel comes to CREA from Maine Audubon, where he served as Director of Fields Pond Audubon Center, a 192-acre environmental center in Holden.  Matt's passion is for cultivating ecological literacy and civic engagement, helping people, institutions, and communities learn their way toward sustainability and resilience.  A former classroom teacher with wide-ranging experience teaching students from pre-school through graduate school, Matt has served on the faculty of several innovative schools and was instrumental in the development of the nation’s first Sustainability Academy, a public magnet school with a sustainability theme for grades K-5 in Burlington, Vermont. He holds a B.A. in Government from Colby College and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Antioch University New England. Matt lives in Brunswick with his wife, Jennifer, and their son, Hunter.


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

CREA Opens New Office

March 19th, 2013
CREA recently opened a new office in Fort Andross in Brunswick. Housing our Interim Executive Director, Ron Hall, and providing working and meeting space for the CREA staff, Board of Directors, and committees, the CREA office also makes our organization more accessible to the communities we serve. The office is on the second floor of the historic mill building - just take the elevator to the second floor, and proceed down the hallway. Suite 210 is on the left, and CREA's office is visible through the glass doors.

CREA Office Opening

CREA Hires Interim Executive Director

February 7th, 2013

CREA Ecology Center and Site Programs Director Cheryl Sleeper and Interim Executive Director Ron Hall

The Cathance River Education Alliance has hired Ronald K. Hall to succeed outgoing Executive Director Rick Wilson. Rick announced his resignation in November, after 12 incredibly successful years of leadership. Ron will work closely with educators Cheryl Sleeper and Sarah Rodgers and other support staff and colleagues in order to carry on CREA’s important mission while the Board continues its search for an Executive Director.

Ron brings to CREA many years of leadership and education experience. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of New Hampshire, and is a distinguished educator.  He was appointed to several positions at Waynflete School in Portland, including Athletic Director, Director of Admissions, Director of Development, Assistant Headmaster, and Acting Headmaster. He served at Waynflete for 21 years. He also served as the Executive Director at Camp O-AT-KA, a summer boys camp on Sebago Lake, for 12 years and filled in as Interim ED as needed. Ron has been director of the camp's Friends Association for 12 years.  He is committed to outdoor education and to developing a love of nature in students.

In addition to his professional background, Ron has been involved in several professional organizations, including Rotary, the South Portland Conservation Committee, and has served as volunteer development consultant for some local non-profits in his area. In what he has left of spare time, Ron enjoys traveling, flyfishing, woodworking and volunteering.  We are delighted that Ron has agreed to help guide the Board through the selection of a permanent Executive Director later this year, and to helping CREA chart a successful course as a vibrant part of our community.  CREA's many members, business supporters, donors, students, and educators, can rest assured that Ron will guide the organization effectively in this period of transition.


CREA Leadership Transition

November 8th, 2012

Dear Members and Friends of the Cathance River Education Alliance,

It is with sadness that I am writing to let you know that, after 12 years of inspiring and talented service to CREA, Rick Wilson is resigning from the part-time position as our Executive Director.

Rick has been our first and only Executive Director. With his drive and creative energy, Rick and his family have brought CREA from a fledgling non-profit, to the vibrant organization that it is today. He has devoted his passion for our community, education, and the environment towards “connecting our community to nature,” and he has been hugely successful.

Rick’s many accomplishments include the recruitment of hundreds of loyal and valued CREA members, securing grant funding for our organization, building strong relationships and alliances with our community partners and supporters, and helping recruit a dedicated staff and Board of Directors. Furthermore, Rick has helped establish our Cathance River Ecology Center, helped establish and manage the 235-acre Cathance River Nature Preserve, and spearheaded CREA’s popular Community, School, Vacation Camp, and Environmental Youth Leadership Programs.

We feel the loss of such a devoted leader, but the Board and staff are looking positively to the future of our organization. We are in the process of laying out our goals and a timeline for our leadership transition. With Rick’s ongoing commitment to the organization and its success, we are in a position to lead CREA into an exciting new chapter.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.


Louisa Edgerton

CREA President

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.