A young girl greets piping plovers in this illustration by Bruce Hutchison of Cape Elizabeth for the book, “The Piping Plover (of Higgins Beach, Maine),” written by Greely High School teacher Andrew Fersch. Contributed / Bruce Hutchison

Greely High School teacher Andrew Fersch is a regular at Higgins Beach in Scarborough. He, his wife and young daughter love the beach and enjoy seeing the little piping plovers that can be found nesting there in the summer.

But the plovers, which arrive on southern Maine beaches each spring, are endangered, and Fersch wanted to bring more awareness to their plight. In collaboration with professional illustrator Bruce Hutchison of Cape Elizabeth, he authored a children’s book, “The Piping Plover (of Higgins Beach, Maine),” with the hope of inspiring young people to get involved in protecting the natural world.

“Taking care of our local community, taking care of the places, creatures and people we love is the real work of our lifetimes,” Fersch said.

“The Piping Plover” tells of a young girl who notices the impact human disturbance can have on plovers, and she works to educate her community about how to make Higgins Beach a safe and enjoyable place for both humans and shorebirds.

A Bruce Hutchison illustration featured in “The Piping Plover.” Contributed / Bruce Hutchison

“My hope is that young people see that it actually is possible to live in harmony with the natural world,” Fersch said. “We’re not doing it at all, but we could do it, and there are a lot of people that are putting in a lot of work and a ton of energy to make it happen.”

Over the last two years, Fersch and Hutchison have been working towards self-publishing the book, a process that Fersch calls “a surprisingly time intensive labor of love.” Half of the revenue from the book sales will be donated to organizations working to protect plovers, including Maine Audubon.


Hutchison, who has fond memories of vacationing at Higgins Beach when he was a child, said he jumped at the opportunity to illustrate the book.

“The illustration process was seamless,” Hutchison said. “Andrew was great to work with, very supportive, and he offered many thoughtful ideas along the way.”

Using reference photos, Hutchison illustrated in pen and ink and watercolors on scratchboard. Like Fersch, he hopes the story will inspire people to take action in environmental causes.

“My hope is that children, their parents and grandparents will be inspired by this story to become involved in a cause they believe in and to work together toward a common goal and a brighter tomorrow,” Hutchison said.

The book can be preordered now through its Kickstarter page and may later be available through the Scarborough Land Trust website. Fersch said they hope to have it published by August or September.

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