307 Applebee Rd, Milton Mills, NH 03852

Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival was all about Fun, Learning and Sustainability

Moose Mountains Regional Greenways
Box 191, Union, NH  03887


Submitted: September 14, 2018



Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival was all about Fun, Learning and Sustainability

Nearly 500 people showed up at Branch Hill Farm in Milton Mills on the second Saturday of August to take part in the 16th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival presented by Moose Mountains Regional Greenways (MMRG) and Branch Hill Farm (BHF).  Another 100 presenters and volunteers were on hand offering 30 different educational activities and helping the day run smoothly. This annual festival provides a day of fun, exploration and learning about nature for families, a crucial step in making sure the next generation appreciates and strives to conserve our region’s natural resources.

An informal poll of kids found that almost every child had a different ‘favorite’ activity. Many loved the opportunity to be physically active outdoors — swinging on a rope swing, jumping between log stumps, or cutting a slice of pine log with a crosscut saw. Others loved the craft activities, like building a bee house out of hollow straws to make a home for native pollinators. Fishing in the BHF pond got the vote of one enthusiastic boy, who added that it would have been even better if he had caught a fish. Kids eagerly reported their favorite animals, such as the baby barn swallow chicks just learning to fly in the BHF barn, and the draft horses pulling logs out of the forest. One young girl nodded shyly at her mom’s suggestion that her favorite moment was probably when her grandpa, logger Larry Hersom, met the hay wagon during their hayride through the woods.

Conservation-minded choices were underlined this year with a big push from Branch Hill Farm to make the WWW Festival into a Zero Waste event, based on Green Building Certification Inc. Total Resource Use and Efficiency (GBCI TRUE) criteria. At the trash disposal station, trash ‘ambassadors’ made a game of which item goes into which receptacle.  They reported that kids loved it, adults appreciated it, and the size of the final landfill bag was ‘incredibly small compared to previous years’. Afterwards, all reused, recycled and discarded components were separately weighed and an unofficial calculation determined that the Zero Waste goal was achieved because 98% by weight was kept out of the landfill. Branch Hill Farm managing trustee Cynthia Wyatt was delighted, saying, “I’d like to thank Brian Balukonis for his expert help and thank all our Festival-goes who cooperated to help achieve Zero Waste at the 2018 WWW Festival! Conserving and recovering resources is a crucial part of keeping our environment clean and healthy for the benefit of all people, plants and animals.”

Outside expert volunteers like Balukonis and dozens of other volunteers play an essential role each year in putting on the WWW Festival.  They help with everything from setting out hay bales to teaching kids how to use a crosscut saw. MMRG Education Coordinator Kari Lygren wants all volunteers to know how much they are appreciated. “So much of the Festival success depends on volunteers! We can’t thank you all enough, but we’ll show you a little bit of our gratitude at our upcoming Volunteer Appreciation Day in November. Stay tuned for details.”

The WWW Festival is MMRG’s biggest annual outreach event and also serves as a major fundraiser with proceeds supporting the organization’s land conservation and outreach missions. MMRG would like to express thanks to festival underwriters, D. F. Richard Energy, Siemon Company, and BHF/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust and to major festival sponsors, Philip Zaeder and Sylvia Thayer, the Hays-Dombrower Family, Norman Vetter Inc. Poured Foundations, Bruce and Jennifer Rich, S&S Plumbing and Heating, Henry and Junko Siemon, Carl and Beth Ann Siemon, and the Wyatt Family; to sponsors Dottie Bean, Charlie Moreno Consulting Forester, Devonshire Realty, Eastern Boats, EOS Research, Frank Massin Agency, Great East Lake Improvement Association, Gene Hays, Milton Veterinary Clinic, Profile Bank, Proulx Oil & Propane, Chuck and Annie Robbins, Beverly Siemon, and Wentworth Hunt Club; as well as to many more co-sponsors and supporters.

Moose Mountains Regional Greenway is a non-profit land trust serving Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Wakefield, and Wolfeboro (see www.mmrg.info). Branch Hill Farm/Carl Siemon Family Charitable Trust is a private operating foundation (see www.branchhillfarm.org).


A boy gets help sawing a pine log
A young girl learns to walk a log at ‘Nature’s Playground’
Tables fil the yard in front of the Branch Hill Farm barn for the 16th annual Woods, Water & Wildlife Festival
Girls run down the trail towards ‘Nature’s Playground’ in the woods, a favorite festival activity
Kids learn to fish in the Branch Hill Farm pond
MMRG Board member and Festival Volunteer Dan Coons helps families have fun learning in the ‘Mountain Man’s Mansion’
Squam Lakes Natural Science Cetner presents rescued wildlife at the WWWW Festival



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