NORTHEAST HARBOR – Love for Acadia National Park and a spirit of giving back to this special place filled the big tent on the Asticou lawn on Saturday night, at the 24th Annual Friends of Acadia Benefit. “This is our biggest night of the year, but what you’re doing for us here tonight extends throughout the year. The trails, the carriage roads, the Island Explorer, the youth programs, land conservation, water-quality monitoring, you name it—your goal here tonight is to help Friends of Acadia make a big difference for our beloved park all year round,” said FOA president David Mac Donald in his welcoming remarks to the record crowd of 580 attendees.
The evening started off with a silent auction of items all donated by generous artists, businesses, and individuals—from Acadia-themed artwork and one-of-a-kind jewelry to unique adventure packages and the always-popular selection of retired trail and carriage road signs from the park. A delicious dinner was served by the Asticou, followed by a fun live auction with Mr. C. Hugh Hildesley of Sotheby’s serving as auctioneer. Bidding was lively, and there was much cheering and applause for the winning bidders in appreciation for their important support for Friends of Acadia’s programs and operations.
The live auction closed with a paddle raise in support of Teacher-Rangers at Acadia. More than 70 generous attendees raised their bidding paddles to make a charitable gift to Friends of Acadia, altogether donating over $125,000 in restricted funding for this powerful educational program.
The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program brings public school teachers to the park to work as rangers for a summer, equipping them to return to their home schools with new knowledge and appreciation for Acadia and other public lands that they can in turn share with their students. At a time when this program is being reduced or cut in other parks across the country, Friends of Acadia’s support in 2013 increased the number of Teacher-Rangers from three to seven and added such benefits as a class visit to Acadia or other public land for each teacher’s home class in the fall. Says park superintendent Sheridan Steele, “The Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program is an extraordinary effort to bring teachers into Acadia National Park and then take the national park message back into their classrooms. It’s reaching thousands of students and helping us to build the next generation of park stewards.” The dollars raised at the Benefit will continue Friends of Acadia’s support for the program in 2014. To learn more about the Teacher-Ranger-Teacher program at Acadia, visit http://friendsofacadia.org/what-we-do.
Says FOA director of development Lisa Horsch Clark, “We are so thankful for the strong and committed Benefit committee volunteers, who work year-round to plan this important event. And I am delighted that the next generation of committee members has become involved to learn from our veteran committee members and help us prepare for our 25th Anniversary benefit in 2014. We’ve already held our first planning meeting and look forward to next year’s great celebration to be held on Saturday, August 9, 2014.”