UMaine students selling art to support Hirundo Wildlife Refuge

Art students at the University of Maine in Orono have taken on a new project to support educational programs for children at the nearby Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton.

In the advanced art education course taught by Constant Albertson, a small group of students are crafting mugs to be sold for $10 each at several upcoming UMaine campus events:

Courtesy of UMaine
Ceramic mugs made by University of Maine students in Orono are complete and ready to be sold in spring 2013 to support educational programs for children at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton.

• Opening reception for the UMaine Department of Art Student Exhibition, 6-7 p.m. April 5, at Lord Hall Gallery.

• The Maine Art Education Association 2013 Spring Conference, 12:30-1:30 p.m. April 6, at the lunch reception.

• Earth Day, noon-4 p.m. April 22, at the Memorial Union.
• The H.O.P.E. Festival, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. April 27, at the New Balance Student Recreation Center.

• Maine Day, noon-4 p.m. May 1, at the Memorial Union.

Courtesy of University of Maine
A ceramic mug, crafted by University of Maine students, is one of the many mugs that will be sold to benefit educational programs at Hirundo Wildlife Refuge in Alton at various events during spring 2013.

Each handcrafted mug features a unique design inspired by nature.

The goal of the four students in the class — Hannah Berta of Rockport, Elizabeth Miller of Kittery, Abigail LeBlanc of Brewer, and Nicole McGuigan of Woolwich — is to make and sell 500 mugs, and to work together to spread awareness about Hirundo Wildlife Refuge, a 2,400-acre nature preserve just 10 miles from the UMaine Orono campus.

“[Hirundo] is so important to the community and really does a great job with providing programs,” said Albertson. “One of the aims of this project is to give them some attention so that more people will know they’re there.”

The students spend more than a month researching causes that are important to them before deciding to support the wildlife refuge through art.

The Hirundo land was deeded to UMaine in 1983, cementing a long-term collaboration based on research and scientific studies. The land spans Pushaw and Dead Streams, Lac D’Or (a lake) and vast wetlands, including domed bog and maple and juniper swamps. On the property, visitors hike, snowshoe and cross-country ski on a 7-mile trail system that meanders through meadows, mixed hardwood and evergreen forests. Visitors can also paddle canoes free of charge.

The refuge is the home to many mammals — including moose, deer, fox, muskrat, beaver, otter, black bear, bobcat, fisher, and ermine — and a wide variety of birds, according to Hirundo’s website, In fact, “Hirundo” is the Latin word for swallow, which come to the refuge in flocks to nest in nest boxes.

The refuge is open year round, from 9 a.m. to dusk. Admission is free, but donations are strongly encouraged. Visitors should sign the log book available at Gate 1, Gate 2, Gate 3 or Gate 6.

For future sale locations and information, call Albertson at 581-3251 or visit the students’ website at To learn about Hirundo, visit For information about UMaine, visit

Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at