On the Island

Star Island Hosts AmeriCorps Volunteers

We are thrilled to share the following press release about the outstanding AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team that helped us with special facilities projects this spring on Star Island, including compost system improvements and grounds work.

An AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team is wrapping up a three-week stay on Star Island.

The volunteers are from all over the country and range in age from 18 to 22. The AmeriCorps team stayed in the historic Ocean Hotel and worked on a range of projects, including infrastructure improvements, energy efficiencies and waste management.

“These are important projects that we would not have been able to complete this year without the help of the AmeriCorps volunteers,” said Star Island Manager John Bynum. “We are so grateful for their contributions and strong work ethic. And we were thrilled to show them some Star Island hospitality.”

Zoe Lufkin, 22, of Tacoma, Washington, was excited by the assignment and called it an experience she will always remember.

“By joining the Star Island community for three weeks our team was able to partake in the fun familial energy that abounds in every building,” Lufkin said. “Getting to know the different crews around the island was an exciting process. We spent most of our time with environmental services working to streamline their composting system. I, personally, don’t have much previous sustainability exposure, which made this time all the more meaningful. It was a great, unforgettable few weeks that was made all the better by the warm staff who included our team in all their traditions.”

Star Island is the second largest of the nine small, rugged islands at the Isles of Shoals. Star Island is owned and managed by the nonprofit Star Island Corporation and hosts weeklong conferences and programs focused on a wide variety of topics including ecology, history, spirituality, arts, along with intergenerational family camps. All are welcome to come for the day, spend the night or attend a conference.

AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps engages up to 2,800 young Americans in a full-time, 10-month commitment to service each year. AmeriCorps NCCC members address critical needs related to natural and other disasters, infrastructure improvement, environmental stewardship and conservation, and urban and rural development. The programs are administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteer Generation Fund programs. For more information, visit www.nationalservice.gov.

On the Island


2018 Pelican Positions Open!

Due to some recent cancellations, we unexpectedly have a few Pelican job openings on Star this summer. If you know of anyone who is still looking for a summer job and might be interested in this amazing opportunity, please have them get in touch with me as soon as possible to apply.

We seek candidates who will be safecooperative, and respectful, and who can thrive in the close working and living quarters of our remote setting.  Beyond these essential attributes, we will be strongly focused on hiring candidates who will contribute to our mission of hospitality and participate in forming a healthy island-wide community.  If you know of people (age 18 and older) who fit that description and might be looking for a summer job- please encourage them to apply.

The position openings include:

  • Housekeeping Crew
  • Snack Bar/Gosport Grill Crew
  • Truck, Grounds & Waterfront Crew (lifeguard certification required)
  • Waitrae Crew

Ideal candidates will be able to work from June 11 through at least mid-August; preferably longer.


Interested applicants contact Kate Brady, Office Manager at:
kbrady@starisland.org or 603-430-6272
with questions and to apply.


Remembering the Last Village on Star Island


By Peter Randall

Gosport Remembered, the Last Village at the Isles of Shoals, tells the story of the last years of the little village that existed on Star for many years before the island became a conference center. First published twenty years ago by the Portsmouth Marine Society, a special 20th anniversary paperback edition has been reprinted and copies will be available at the Star Bookstore.

Many years before Star Island was a conference center, it was home to a small village called Gosport. From 1623 until 1872, Star supported fishermen and their families. In the early years when cod were huge and abundant and few settlements were on the mainland, the island’s fishermen were some of the wealthiest people in New England. They dried cod for export to Europe, but as seacoast towns grew and fear of Native American attacks diminished, the more successful families moved to the mainland.

Gosport became an incorporated town in the state of New Hampshire, electing officers and even a member of the legislature. But life on the island was difficult. Imagine having enough drinking water, or fuel for heating and cooking. Dried fish were sold or bartered, but money was in short supply. Ministers were often paid with dried fish they had to sell for income.
At the time of the American Revolution, the villagers were asked to leave the island since their loyalty to the cause was somewhat in doubt. After the war ended those who returned were probably people who had trouble getting established on the mainland and others who just missed the freedom of living on an island.

The quality of life declined and, by 1800, missionaries were assigned to Star to support the few remaining families. It was during the nineteenth century when summers visitors began to arrive, hosted by small inns on Smuttynose and, later, Star, and in 1848 the large Appledore House on Appledore Island. Many visitors such as authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charles Henry Dana, wrote about the islands and its people.

When a large collection of 1860s photographs of primarily Star became available, Peter Randall and Maryellen Burke decided to put together a book of the pictures and the contemporary works of visitors as well as Celia Thaxter and her brothers.
It is remarkable that so much was written about this little village that no longer exists. This rich literary output forms the heart of the book and brings to life the scenes and the people who were photographed.

Green Gosport Initiative

Creating the Future of Wastewater

Plans for the new wastewater treatment/reclamation system on Star Island are moving forward and our groundbreaking project should be operational next year! Financing approval for the project was assured last July with the signing of formal documents for a low-interest loan from the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) under the EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund. This program has until recently provided money only to municipalities for wastewater improvements. Recent changes in the program guidelines have opened the program to non-profit organizations. Star Island was the first non-profit in the state to qualify for a wastewater loan, which has a low fixed interest rate and a term of twenty years.

In addition to finding a reliable system that can address our seasonal occupancy fluctuation and effectively manage the high nutrient content of the island waste stream, engineers were also asked to recommend an approach which reduces electricity demand, and can allow recycling of treated wastewater for uses such as toilet flushing and irrigation.

In February we received the final report from Underwood Engineers including specific recommendations for a new system and other improvements to the waste stream process. The report followed extensive meetings with regulators over the past eighteen months, and represents a truly collaborative approach to meeting a broad range of goals for an improved system.

The first recommendation in the Underwood Report is to install an expanded grease trap system that can remove more waste materials from the kitchen flow before they hit the treatment plant. This system will be installed this spring. A series of large plastic chambers will contain the wastewater from the kitchen, slowing it down long enough to cool. This allows suspended fats, oils and grease to be captured for later disposal before it reaches the waste treatment plant. Such removal is essential to efficient and reliable operation of any system.

The report goes on to evaluate ten different treatment system options on the basis of cost, feasibility, visual impact, ease of operation, quality of treated effluent, energy consumption and other factors. Underwood recommends a system called Amphidrome, in technical terms a “submerged attached growth biologically active filter (BAF).” These systems are manufactured in New England and have been successfully deployed in hospitals, resorts, schools, office parks and similar developments with large wastewater demands not serviced by public sewers. The system, which fits entirely within the existing waste treatment tanks, relies on bacteria and filtration to process up to 17,000 gallons of island wastewater per day, using only 10% of the energy of our current system!

The final product, after disinfection similar to that used in our drinking water system, is expected to be non-potable re-use. No longer simply wastewater for ocean discharge, this reclaimed resource will ultimately be used to flush island toilets and for lawn irrigation. Star Island is working with DES to help write the rules for the use of recycled wastewater in what is recognized as an important pilot project in New Hampshire that will have statewide benefits for waste treatment and water conservation efforts.

Final approvals are expected in mid summer 2018, allowing construction to begin shortly thereafter. If all goes as planned, the new system will be in operation for the 2019 season.

As an island community, Star faces the need for constant self-resilience and adaptability. Our sustainability program, the Green Gosport Initative, encompass all of our efforts to use limited resources in a creative and conscious manner, while conserving where we can. Learn more. Learn more at www.starisland.org/green.

On the Island

Intern Needed for Visual Documentation Project in Star Island’s Vaughn Cottage Museum & Library

We have some exciting news for island history buffs and museum studies students – the next big project for Vaughn Cottage includes making the many interesting Shoals artifacts found in Star Island’s museum available for viewing online!

The Vaughn Cottage collection includes artifacts ranging from stone tools and arrow points dating to 6000 BP (Before Present) and maps from the years Gosport Village and the Isles of Shoals set the price of cod worldwide, to old photographs from the bygone era of the grand, nineteenth-century Victorian hotels (Star Island’s 1876 Oceanic Hotel is still operating today!). The collection also celebrates the life and work of Celia Thaxter, poet, artist, and Shoals resident whose parlor brought artists and writers like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne to visit. Vaughn Cottage is open seasonally and offers beautiful exhibits each year and books for loan in a quaint, seaside cottage on Star Island.

Do you know an interested and qualified candidate for the internship described below? Share our post and stay tuned for project updates and future online access to the Vaughn Cottage collection!

Vaughn-Thaxter Internship

Star Island is hiring an intern to work in Vaughn Cottage Museum & Library this summer to continue ongoing efforts to bring high quality preservation methods to the island’s home for historical artifacts.

The Vaughn-Thaxter Internship will focus on visually documenting the Celia Thaxter Museum collection via Past Perfect software so that Star Island Corporation may make the history inside Vaughn Cottage digitally accessible to the public.

Internship goals and responsibilities include: To build the museum’s digital photography portfolio of all artifacts within the collection. To work with the Vaughn Curator to maintain security and proper care of all museum space and equipment. The Vaughn-Thaxter Intern must become familiar with Isles of Shoals history, participate in trainings held by Island Heritage and Artifacts Committee members and advisors, and support the Assistant Conference Center Director in coordinating and completing the visual documentation project. The Vaughn-Thaxter Intern will also support the Vaughn Curator by hosting museum hours and elementary education programming as needed.

This is a residential position on Star Island. Star Island is part of the Isles of Shoals, a small group of islands just off the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. The island is home to a seasonal conference center serving nearly 300 guests a week and operated by just over 100 staff members. Star Island is a great place to be a part of a dynamic community, experience island living, and enjoy a unique natural environment.

Desired qualifications/skills/coursework: Recent graduate or student pursuing degree in museum studies or photography. The ideal candidate has intermediate or advanced photography experience. Must have basic photography experience. Previous experience using Past Perfect museum software preferred. Ability to work independently with limited supervision.

Start and End Dates: 12-week period between mid-May and mid-August 2018 (exact start/end dates are flexible)

Time Commitment: 36-42 hours/week

Compensation: A $1500 stipend will be provided in 3 monthly payments. Room and board is provided, including all meals, dormitory-style accommodations in staff quarters and a rustic island environment. Island residency is required 5-6 days per week with transportation to and from the island provided from Star Island’s dock in Portsmouth, NH.

How to apply: Please complete the general Star Island employment application: https://starisland.org/working/#seasonal (including the two requested references if application has never worked or interned on Star Island before) and submit a resume and cover letter to aminer@starisland.org