By Cindy Hoffman, Staff Writer
(April 13, 2023) Summer is coming and so are the tourists. That means the peaceful time for the Assateague ponies and other wildlife is about to end.
Samantha Norwood Conners hopes her new book, “Assateague Island Activity and Coloring Book,” will educate visitors on how to be good tourists while visiting Assateague Island.
Conners’ book aims to provide an engaging way for kids — and others — to learn about the rules to follow on Assateague Island when it comes to the wildlife, especially the wild horses.
Throughout the book, there is advice on ways to be a good visitor and keep the horses, other wildlife and people safe, including driving slowly, not approaching the horses, and keeping food stored properly.
“There are also fun coloring pages and activities to complete,” Conners said.
“There have been sad incidents over the past few years. In July of 2021, there was a mare and foal that were struck by a vehicle.”
“I work in a warehouse that makes books. When I thought about the tragedy, I wondered if there was a book about Assateague that would identify things people should be aware of,” Conners said.
So, she started to think about creating one herself.
Then the stallion, nicknamed Chip, was removed for getting too aggressive with visitors.
“I said to myself, ‘are you going to do this book or not?’”
Conners created all of the art herself, drawing freehand and using some models of horses to ensure she had the proportions right. But she wanted to make sure the horses looked like the wild horses on Assateague, not a “Clydesdale.”
The book includes various exercises, including connect-the-dots, word search, color by number and a saltwater maze with horses trying to find each other.
“Each page I made into its own poster that can stand on its own. You can hang it on a wall. One is a door hanger that has seals on it that say, ‘Do not disturb,’” Conners said.
The Assateague horses have been special to Conners since she was little.
“I am an animal lover, especially horses. I was one of those horse-crazy girls. I have been taking [riding] lessons since I was three,” Conners said.
She has visited Assateague since she was about five years old. She loves the thrill of looking for the horses and the other wildlife she has seen along the way.
Back when she first started visiting, the horses did not have names, and fewer people were visiting the island. As the crowds grew, so did the dangers for the wildlife.
“People were feeding the horses more. I fed them as a young kid. I was educated and now I am trying to educate other people.
“The book is to help visitors be the best visitors on the island,” Conners said.
“Assateague Island Activity & Coloring Book” is available on Amazon. Conners is currently working on the book being available in local stores by Memorial Day.
A portion of proceeds from each book sale goes to the non-profit Assateague Island Alliance to help preserve the wildlife and ecosystem on the island.