Check Out UNH
How do whales stay warm? How many claws does a lobster have? The wonder of our oceans and their inhabitants leads to infinite questions, especially for young children. Luckily for Granite Staters, UNH Marine Docents have answers.
Docents are trained volunteers of NH Sea Grant at UNH. For many years, the docents have developed and delivered a variety of programs to educate the public about the local coastal and marine environment and research in the field.
In 2022, the UNH Marine Docent program joined a new, exciting initiative called Check Out UNH — a partnership between UNH and public libraries. Facilitated by Extension, this effort’s goal is to connect university resources to the 234 public libraries in the state. This year, the Marine Docent program was chosen to enhance the libraries’ popular summer reading program, whose theme was Oceans of Possibilities.
Docents developed library-specific programs on a range of marine issues with hands-on learning, explanations of UNH research and recommended books available for check-out. By the end of the summer, the Docents had engaged nearly 3,000 patrons in 79 public libraries. A generous donor to Check Out UNH covered the fee to libraries and the cost of presenter travel.
In addition to supporting the annual summer reading program, Check Out UNH developed an interactive kiosk in the Dover public library and a self-guided N.H. exploration kit for the Wiggin Memorial Library’s collection in Stratham. Plans are underway to create more kits and install more kiosks, and to support the 2023 summer reading program theme All Together Now: Kindness/Friendship/Unity.
Emily Buehne ’25 served as Check Out UNH’s 2022 summer coordinator through Extension's internship program. She developed programmatic resources, interviewed librarians, measured results and helped make plans for the next several years.
Buehne’s hard work was fueled by her passionate belief in the role libraries play in our lives. She says, “In a nation struggling with inequality and apathy, and in a democracy grappling with false information and hate, libraries stand quiet and strong. In between kind ‘shushes’ and worn bindings, they are places to foster understanding and learn tools to help the world around us.”