On Monday, Nov. 22, 120 Rockland District Middle School students took a different sort of field trip.

Five groups started at the town landing in Thomaston, armed with a pencil, a set of rhyming clues, and a map, braced against the cold wind. Their mission? To follow the clues, solve a riddle, learn about Thomaston’s connection to the St. George River Watershed and important history. On the guided walk, or Quest, the students wound themselves through town, stopping at important environmental and historical sites, such as: the lime kiln down by the river, the former site of Thomaston’s sewage treatment plant, the railroad overpass, and historical captain’s homes. All of these places brought the town of Thomaston to life for these students.

The three distinct, but intricately woven, Quests were created by Thomaston Grammar School’s fifth graders from school year 2009-2010 under the guidance of their teacher, Lynn Snow. The eighth-graders from RDMS are creating several Quests this year, illuminating Rockland’s connection to, and health of, the harbor and surrounding watersheds (including possibly the Weskeag River and village area), both from past and present perspectives. Three teachers from the eighth-grade team attended the 3.5 day Questing Institute this past summer and they brought the other two on board. The entire team attended a recent Questing in the Classroom Workshop in Waldoboro.

The Questing Program is a place-based education program of the Quebec-Labrador Foundation’s Marine Program. Nearly 25 educators in 10 Midcoast schools attended the fully funded Summer Questing Institute in 2009 and 2010. The Questing Program supports the teaching teams and their students (now over 500) during the school year as the groups create their own guided community walks, or Quests. The Quebec-Labrador Foundation is a 50-year-old bi-national conservation and community service organization committed to supported rural and community based projects. Funding for the Questing Program is made possible through a grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s New England Bay Watershed Education and Training Program.

For more information, or to request a brochure for the upcoming, free Questing to Learn Summer 2011 Institute, please contact Anne Stires or Jennifer Atkinson at 832-8109, or visit the website at www.muscongus bay.org.