March 9, 2013
9:00 amto1:00 pm
June 14, 2013
9:00 amto1:00 pm

Esperanza Stancioff

Please note that both sessions of this program are full. There are still spaces in the Climate Change program on July 9.

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens is teaming up with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension and Sea Grant to participate in “Signs of the Seasons,” a citizen science program that aims to achieve meaningful science and education outcomes that benefit Maine communities. Training sessions will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on either Saturday, March 9, or Friday, June 14. Participants should bring a bag lunch and be prepared to walk outdoors.

Both sessions will be presented by UMaine Cooperative Extension educators Esperanza Stancioff and Beth Bisson. Lois Berg Stack, who’s also affiliated with the extension service, will co-present with them on March 9.

There is no charge to join in this valuable effort, but we ask you to sign up via the button below or at 207-633-4333, ext. 101.

Read more about the Signs of the Seasons program and the instructors below.   Please note, too, that on July 9 Esperanza Stancioff will join George Jacobson for an evening program about climate change. Learn more.

The program engages volunteers in observing plant and animal phenology, which is the study of seasonal life events, such as when birds make their nests in the spring, when berries ripen in the summer, and when leaves change color in the autumn. Scientists study phenology to understand how plants and animals are affected over time by changes in climate and weather at a certain place.  Observations made by volunteers in their backyards, here at the Gardens, or at local natural areas help scientists and managers answer questions that affect Maine’s forests, crops, and our day-to-day lives.

Phenology changes are easy for volunteers of any age to observe and record.  Observations may include the timing of budburst, emerging leaves, and flowering of plants; first and last sightings (in spring and fall) of migrating birds, changing plumage, and observations of nesting activity in birds; and changing leaf color and withering foliage of plants in autumn. In the marine environment, volunteers may choose to observe loons and look for the presence of reproductive organs on our indicator species of seaweed. 

Each participant will choose as many indicator species as they wish, and identify and mark a site(s) where they will observe these species throughout most of the year. The group will register as Signs of the Seasons participants on the USA National Phenology Network website’s Nature’s Notebook, where they can record their observations as often as they make them.  For more information about this research program, visit  Questions about this volunteer opportunity may be directed to Esperanza Stancioff at or 207-832-0343.

As an educator with the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension, Esperanza’s current work focuses on climate change education and adaptation planning. Since joining the UMaine Extension in 1988, she has designed and implemented educational programs in coastal ecosystem health, specifically in marine environmental monitoring and watershed assessment and management.

Beth Bisson is the Assistant Director for Outreach and Education at Maine Sea Grant and helps deliver education and extension programming that promotes environmental literacy and sustainable use, conservation, and stewardship of Maine’s ocean and coastal resources. She has worked in the fields of water quality, conservations, and environmental education in Maine and elsewhere. She holds a master’s degree in water science, policy, and management from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Dr. Lois Berg Stack is the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Ornamental Horticulture Specialist. She conducts applied research and organizes workshops and conferences for nursery, greenhouse, garden center and landscape professionals in Maine and New England. Some of her current projects focus on plants that support native bees and honeybees, and production of chokeberry as a nutraceutical crop. She also works extensively with home gardeners on landscape topics such as management of invasive species and selection and management of Maine landscape plants.