Fourteen-year-old Corey Smith of Edgartown was honored recently along with 13 other youths by the Massachusetts Audubon Society for his interest and enthusiasm as a young naturalist. He was among those named as a recipient for the James K. Whittemore Young Naturalist Award.
Last summer, Mr. Smith attended the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary’s summer camp and so distinguished himself that he was an easy pick by sanctuary staff for the award.
“He stood out. He was inquisitive and had a true desire to learn about nature,” said Justen Walker, the education coordinator and day camp director.
Every summer the 40-year-old-plus Felix Neck Fern and Feather Day Camp sees plenty of kids in the program. Miss Walker said Corey, one of the oldest campers, was enthusiastic about being involved and shined above all the others.
In the first week of his attending camp, he and his group of three others went on a hunt across the Island for renewable energy. “They were called ecologists,” Miss Walker said.
They visited the solar panels at the Steamship Authority and saw wind turbines in West Tisbury.
In the second week they studied sea life, taking water samples from Sengekontacket Pond. They also went on a field trip to the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, run by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
It was along the shoreline at Sengekontacket that Mr. Smith distinguished himself as a growing scientist when he found a little fish they couldn’t identify. Miss Walker said they brought the fish to Woods Hole and it was later identified as a tropical shadow driftfish.
Young Mr. Smith is now a freshman at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School and looks back at the camp experience as the best part of last summer. “I enjoyed it a lot,” he said.
Last October, the staff at the Felix Neck sanctuary was approached by the organization’s headquarters in Lincoln and invited to honor a camper from the past summer. The question was put out to the Massachusetts Audubon Society network of 45 sanctuaries.
Miss Walker said: “They were looking for campers to honor from throughout the organization. We met and Corey was the one that stood out. It was an easy decision and the first name to come to mind.”
The award is given to youngsters from kindergarten to 12th grade who “demonstrate excellence in environmental stewardship.”
The awards were given at the Audubon’s Connecting Children and Nature Conference, a day-long education conference held in Boston on Nov. 7.