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Love of Nature Inspires Environmental Field Work

Rock Island

Story posted August 07, 2007

The childhood memories of Allegra Spalding '08 of Kennebunkport play out against the backdrop of the Maine coast and its beaches. "As far back as I can remember, my house has been full of loose sand and bathing suits drip-drying on the porch," says Spalding.

Spalding and Chris Tadema-Weilandt
Spalding and Chris Tadema-Weilandt, a volunteer monitor and skipper, hauling trash from Halifax and Ram Islands

She says her lifelong love affair with the ocean and nature flourished as she sailed, kayaked and fished with her family. "As I got older, I began to understand the intrinsic value of Maine's landscape," Spalding says. "But I also learned about the imminent threats to the coast that existed."

Spalding is putting that knowledge and passion to good use. As part of the Psi Upsilon Environmental Fellowship Program, which supports summer research projects, she's spending the summer working with the Maine Island Trail Association. MITA's goals are to establish a model of thoughtful and low-impact use of Maine islands and promote the conservation of these islands while providing responsible recreational opportunities.

Wheels are Turning
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Jonna McKone '07 takes part in a Wheels meeting

Psi U Fellow Jonna McKone '07 is working in Brunswick's Department of Planning and Development on Wheels, a community transportation project, which, if local and federal funding comes through, would buy two hybrid vans that would provide transportation around the community five days a week.

"I have found this project important and challenging because of the great need, especially among the elderly and low-income population, for some sort of public transportation," says McKone.

In her field work, Spalding, an environmental studies and Spanish major, helps with cleanup and work projects. She also assists in Leave No Trace Education, a non-profit program dedicated to the responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors. Spalding has been on cleanup and monitoring trips from the islands off Cape Porpoise, all the way Down East to the Machias area.

"Many of our trips are several day trips where we boat out to different islands all over the coast and camp out, and this is by far my favorite aspect of this internship position," Spalding says. "Although I am a native Mainer, this opportunity has given me not only a better knowledge about the rich coast and coastal history of Maine, but also about environmental issues that Maine's lands face, and I get first-hand learning through visits to these islands and exposure to the intrinsic beauty of Maine's coast."

When she's not island hopping, Spalding is firmly planted in the office working on a number of mapping projects. She says the primary focus of her fellowship is to create geographic information maps to track growth and membership among MITA member islands.

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Little Sheep Island

"Working for MITA, I am part of an organization comprising people who love the coast as much as I do, and people who want future generations to be able to experience these rich islands and coastal regions as much in their natural condition as possible," says Spalding. "By promoting responsible use of these lands, I hope future generations will grow up with their own love affair with the Maine coast."

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Quinby House

Proceeds from the sale of the Psi Upsilon house (now Quinby House) to the College in 1998 created the Kappa Psi Upsilon Environmental Studies Fund, an endowed fund that supports an environmental internship program to provide both opportunities for students in the environmental field and resources to the greater Brunswick community.

Since the spring of 2000, six students have been selected each year as Psi Upsilon Fellows and have worked for a range of organizations including the town of Brunswick, the town of Topsham, The Nature Conservancy, Maine Coast Heritage Trust and the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Pictured above:
Rock Island

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Many of our trips are several day trips where we boat out to different islands all over the coast and camp out, and this is by far my favorite aspect of this internship position...
— Allegra Spalding '08