Molly Jacobs, Ph.D.

Vice President Environmental Education & Outreach


There was an explosion of activity on the Boston Esplanade as a group of small children from the Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment Program leapt up from their hula hoop ‘nests’ and raced to a ‘stopover location’, where they eagerly searched for shorebird food.  

Every Wednesday this past summer, Manomet Educators (including myself, Education Manager Clare Cunningham, and Intern Clara Darr) led groups of children through a breathless, energetic, shorebird migration obstacle course. The Esplanade Association’s Children in the Park program brings children from some of Boston’s most underserved communities for a day of fun on the Esplanade, a grassy oasis in downtown Boston along the banks of the Charles River.

Most of the children didn’t know what a shorebird was, but they connected with them in a powerful way. As baby shorebirds, they ran from nest to nest showing off their powerful legs, finding food, huddling together to stay warm, and keeping very still to stay safe from predators. We talked about migration, and why birds might travel so far. Some children did not know any countries in Latin America, where these birds head for our northern winter, but others did – and could tell me of people who also traveled a long way. 

On the feeding grounds, our newly fledged birds giggled about the kinds of things birds eat, proudly showed off their matched sets of berry, crab, or worm tokens, and were mostly not fooled by my efforts to get them to chant after me: ‘bugs are delicious!’.  And when we finally dodged around hurricanes to land safely in South America, everyone cheered.

Manomet led programs for 230 kids as part of the Children in the Park program. Local organizations served include Little Voices at the Hyde Park Community Center, Castle Square Tenants Organization – Square Roots; Cambridge Youth Enrichment Program; Boston Refugee Youth Enrichment Program; and Club 48 – United South End Settlements. 

Manomet donated the summer’s worth of programming, and our educators went weekly over the course of July and August to offer campers interactive activities designed to introduce them to shorebirds: what and how they eat, and why they migrate. Manomet’s education and outreach programs like this are designed to inspire the next generation of conservationists. The experience was so well-received that we have already agreed to participate in the summer of 2024.   

Molly Jacobs, Ph.D., Manomet’s Vice President Environmental Education & Outreach gave a first-hand look into what a day looked like this summer on the Esplanade.