Vol. 1 Issue 1 May/June 2004


Name That Loon

The “conqueree” of a red-winged blackbird greeted us as we began our bird walk at Fields Pond Audubon Center on May 8th. We also identified a white-throated sparrow, a parula warbler, a black-capped chickadee and many other species. We heard spring peepers and green frogs, too, which made us wonder if it should be renamed a frog walk for next year.


Visually impaired birder Steve Coleman led the bird walk for blind and visually impaired people–their sighted companions also enjoyed the event. Steve does a mean imitation of a loon; you’ll want to hear him for yourself next year on the second Saturday in May–International Bird Migration Day–in Holden, Maine.


When our walk ended, we counted all the species we had heard. We had identified 25 birds and that information will help ornithologists and ecologists learn more about bird populations and their movements. If you enjoy birding, quiz yourself to see how many birds you can identify at nhest.org/quiz.html.


After lunch, NHEST CEO Don Tarbet taught us about tree identification. You can identify trees by feel and smell. An eastern white pine has long, soft needles, a yellow birch smells like wintergreen, and a spruce’s needles hurt if you grab them. Learn more about trees at nhest.org/trees.html.


What Is Wilderlust?

Have you ever longed to feel the sun’s warmth upon you and to take in great gulps of fresh air? Ever yearned to hear the robin proclaim that spring has come or to hear the mutter of a stream? If you have, you know what wilderlust is–the desire to experience nature.


NHEST has published a book to show how blind and visually impaired people enjoy the outdoors. “Wilderlust” has 24 chapters written by 18 writers from all over the United States and Canada. Whale watch on Alaska’s Glacier Bay, hike the Mohave Desert, water ski on Utah’s Bear Lake, explore the forests of Ontario, backpack the entire Appalachian Trail, build a fire for those cold Massachusetts winters, ride on an Outward Bound cycling trip through northern New England, and much more.


You’ll also learn about birding, spelunking, gardening, skiing, and other pursuits that blind and visually impaired people of all ages can enjoy. It’s now available in regular print, large print and CD-ROM versions and we will create an audio version soon. Please send an e-mail to if you would like to order a copy.



Do you have a question about the outdoors, science, technology or other issues that affect blind and visually impaired people? We want to help. Send us your question and we’ll try our best to answer it. Also, feel free to suggest how we can make this newsletter something you’ll look forward to! E-mail us at .


Country Skills Coming Soon

If you live in the country or love that way of life, you’ll enjoy our next book. We’ll show you how blind and visually impaired people can tap trees for maple syrup making, store their garden produce, use a woodstove, cook delicious country favorites, and much more. Until it’s available, read all about how to make maple syrup at nhest.org/penquis/penmaple.html.


If you like to write and didn’t contribute to “Wilderlust,” send us an e-mail and we’ll include you on our writers’ list. We’ll send details about what we’re looking for and submission guidelines soon. Place Writers’ List in the subject line of a blank e-mail and send it to .


Other Coming Attractions Include:

  1. A science magazine projected to begin in June. It’s oriented toward, but not limited to, items of interest to blind readers. Send an e-mail to if you would like to subscribe.
  2. More books. After the book on country skills for blind and visually impaired people, which may become part of a series, we plan a book on public service for this audience.
  3. Increased work on radio communications.
  4. A new nonvisual, virtual nature center (representing eastern Washington) is under construction.
  5. We hope to find hosts for our nature centers. Interested?
  6. And fund raising. We must work on that. More than a year ago the state promised funding under Homeland Security to bring more visually impaired communicators into public service, but we haven’t received assistance yet.

And if we get enough funding, we’ll expand all of our programs and add new ones.


Who We Are and What We Do

NHEST Inc. is a 501(c)3 organization existing solely to provide science and nature education and recreation to blind and visually impaired people of all ages and those with related disabilities.


We provide programs in Maine and the northeast through our mobile classroom. We speak at conferences. We publish materials of interest to blind and visually impaired people. We have developed a program so visually impaired people can participate in public service and emergency communications in Maine.


We also maintain an extensive Web site at nhest.org that includes natural history information, science news, an events calendar, news of publications, and a nonvisual, virtual nature center. We recently added a fund raiser and publications editor to our staff. This newsletter is even new. We plan to offer online courses, too.


For the past two years we’ve been working off of grants from the Maren Foundation and private contributions. Now we have added income from our recently published book on blindness and nature.


We still need resources far beyond what we have, so we welcome and appreciate donations!



“Wilderlust” contributor Andrew Leibs recommends outdoor enthusiasts visit Team With a Vision at . This organization sponsors a 5K run and walk each September along the Charles River in Massachusetts. It awards prize money to sight-impaired athletes.


If you love country living and animals, check out “Barnyard in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide.” Edited by Gail Damerow, this 2004 book tells you how to raise chickens, ducks, geese, sheep, goats and cattle. Request RC 56078 at your Talking Book library.


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If a friend forwarded NHEST News to you and you would like to subscribe, send a blank e-mail to and place Subscribe in the subject line. We won’t share your e-mail address with anyone. If you want to be removed from the list, place Remove in the subject line. Please forward this newsletter to those you think would enjoy it. Thank you!