TLEA's Mission

The task of Thompson Lake Environmental Association, in the broadest sense, is to educate. Its mission statement includes these words: "TLEA will promote conservation practices through education and through monitoring and management of Thompson Lake and its watershed." And the very first sentence of the very first issue of the Observer, published in July 1971, states that the newsletter "is intended to help keep Maine citizens informed about the quality of the natural resource represented by one of Maine's lakes."
Since 1971 the Association has sought to educate through the printed word, through workshops and lectures on environmental topics, through conservation-oriented scholarships, and, most recently, through its sponsorship of Lake Day for elementary school children.

The Printed Word

Since its founding, TLEA has served as a resource for information on environmental issues affecting lakes. Its resources include dozens of informational booklets and pamphlets ranging from how to construct a camp road to information on flora and fauna. Every issue of the Observer since 1971 has included factual articles on such topics as boating rules, water quality, phosphorus control, bacteria, septic systems, and even pet waste.

In 1991 Joan C. Madden and Margaret E. Slattery researched, compiled, and published The Thompson Lake Book: A Narrative History. The cover page is shown on the right.
CLICK HERE for more information or to buy the book. This attractive book, crammed full of anecdotes, personal interviews, historical data, and even family photographs, became an instant success. It remains an indispensable guide for anyone interested in the development of Thompson Lake and the history of its surrounding communities.

Then in 1999 TLEA went one step further. In an effort to simplify the complicated Shoreland Zoning rules for property owners, the Association published A Handy Guide for Homeowners, illustrated by Richie D. Kirk and printed by the Graphic Arts and Printing Program of the Oxford Hills Technical School. This 22-page booklet, featuring "Do's and Don'ts" and rules involving tree cutting, building, and landscaping, was distributed widely around the lake and also sent to other lake organizations. Several of these groups paid the publication the high compliment of imitation: With permission, they essentially copied the Handy Guide's content for their own organization's use. In 2009 the Otisfield Conservation Committee, with TLEA's approval, also used the booklet as the basis for its own new informative booklet on the watersheds of Otisfield's four lakes and ponds.

Workshops and "Summer Learning Events"

Educating the public about conservation was one of the requirements of the state grant TLEA received in 1995. This three-year award, known as a 319 grant, was designed to support projects related to solving nonpoint source pollution, or soil erosion problems. The grant included funds for public presentations. During each of the three summers from 1995 to1998, TLEA sponsored a series of lectures and workshops held on Monday mornings at the TLEA office in the old schoolhouse on King Street. In 1995, for example, the public was invited to workshops on aquatic plants; stream and shore land creatures; buffer plants; groundwater; and Secchi disks.

Education Committee Established

Margaret Slattery, TLEA's longest serving president, was the major force behind the establishment of a special Education Committee about 1996. Sandy Roderick, Oxford teacher and presently the chair of the Education Committee, recalls that the early Committee was an active group of at least seven individuals and included an AmeriCorps volunteer as well as active and retired teachers. In 1996 TLEA purchased a large portable scale model of a typical lake, called an Enviroscape, which members of the committee transported to area schools as a device to teach elementary students about water pollution.

Lake Day

Lake Day, established in 1996, was also the brainchild of this Education Committee. Held first at Pismo Beach in Oxford, after two years the event was moved to Agassiz Village, where it has been held ever since. Over the years two school districts have sent sixth graders to Lake Day. All students participating in Lake Day also attend a separate "Hey You Cruise" held on the Songo River Queen in Naples. CLICK HERE for more information.

Schoodic Point Expedition

In the fall of 2008, TLEA directors voted to fund a student trip to Schoodic Point Research and Education Center at Acadia National Park. Accompanied by teachers Sandy Roderick and Nancy Philbrick, plus a covey of parents, 43 sixth-graders from Oxford Elementary School spent 3 days using GPS devices, reading topo maps, and recording their observations of the habitat. In thanking TLEA for its generous support, Roderick called the event "a trip of a lifetime."


"Lake Day Buffer Planting Training - Photo by Jane Fahey"

" Hey You Cruise - Photo by Jane Fahey"

Schoodic Point Tide Pool

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