Story posted March 04, 2013
Click here to learn more about applications and past summer fellowships
Sam “David” Bruce ‘13 is the first recipient of the Cooke fellowship, established by Chester W. Cooke III ’57 to support students pursuing environmental studies. The rising senior worked with the UrbanLab, an architecture firm in Chicago founded by the husband and wife team of Martin Felsen and Sarah Dunn. Bruce’s first project was to look at the feasibility of placing outdoor machines that can recycle household and office wastewater, and stormwater, on every city block. “The firm is looking to keep water in Chicago and recycle it,” Bruce explained. “They’re proposing to build Living Machines, which have natural filters that clean wastewater using natural biology [such as plants and beneficial microrganisms].” The Living Machine is a patented technology that mimics the cleansing process of a natural tidal wetland. Bruce said the machines would take up the equivalent space of one or two parking spots. This system, which he referred to a “water farm,” could, in the eyes of UrbanLab’s architects, one day replace the city’s current system, which draws water from Lake Michigan, cleans it and then expunges it into the Mississippi River where it ends up in the Gulf of Mexico.
“UrbanLab is looking to revitalize the rust belt by attracting water-intensive industries to the shrinking towns and cities in the Midwest,” he explained. "The concept is that in exchange for free water, industries will treat their wastewater through a series of constructed wetlands that would help remediate adjacent post-industrial landscapes."
This summer Laurel Varnell worked with Wake Forest School of Medicine within the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She assisted in a research project that looked at the long term neurological effects of pesticide exposure on migrant farm workers working and living in eastern North Carolina. The study was designed to try and raise awareness to some of the long term dangers of working closely with pesticides and other chemicals. Laurel helped with several aspects of the research project including data collection, entry, and organization. She also assisted the program manager and the community partners with the overall organization and execution of the project.
“My summer was intense but very fun and rewarding. I was able to work with some of the best researchers in the field of social justice. I saw firsthand the negative effects of the farming industry in North Carolina and the need for advocates of underrepresented populations.”
The Cleantech Open is the largest accelerator for startup cleantech companies in the world. Emerging Cleantech Leader Interns research start-up companies developing cutting edge technologies in the renewable energy, green building, smart power, and energy storage sectors as potential competition applicants. Interns help plan marketing, product development, financial modeling, team-building and legal workshops for our semi-finalist teams. Interns also attend the workshops and have the opportunity to network with successful industry veterans. Interns manage all social media platform, which requires up to date knowledge of energy and cleantech news.
"I interned this summer at Cleantech Open in Boston, MA. As an Economics and Environmental Studies coordinate major, it was a great way for me to blend my academic interests in a professional setting. I was responsible for managing the social media platforms, which required me to stay on top of all energy, sustainability and cleantech news. I also attended conferences in New York and Boston where I met some of the most successful people in the cleantech industry."
This summer, I was the Bowdoin Fellow in the Department of Planning and Development for the Town of Brunswick. Continuing on what Mike LaChance did as last summer’s fellow and what Woody Mawhinney and Frances Joyce did in this fall’s GIS course, I worked primarily with the Recreation, Trails, and Open Space (RTOS) group to help develop a trail system throughout the Brunswick Landing (formerly the Naval Air Base) property. This work included meeting with the RTOS group to talk about possible routes, talking with other land owners on the base to learn more about the property, exploring the base parcels to assess the feasibility of different trails, and mapping trails on a Geographic Information System.
“Working for the Town of Brunswick has been an amazing experience. Previously, I figured that I would have a temporary bond with the town – just living and studying here for four years, and nothing more. While working in the Department of Planning and Development, I have made a lasting connection with Brunswick by learning about town government, attending various meetings, interacting with various town leaders, and getting out to explore what the town has to offer.”
Grace’s fellowship with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust covered a wide variety of tasks, both inside and outside of the office. The office work entailed tasks such as creating trail maps, writing grant proposals, and keeping track of money. The outdoor work of the fellowship was as wide ranging as the office work including work at a farmer’s market, participation in a culvert survey, and help at a community garden. One of the goals of BTLT is community based land conservation and the wide ranging set of tasks not only provided Grace with learning opportunities, but allowed Grace to become directly involved in community conservation.
“My experience at the Brunswick Topsham Land Trust was better than I could have hoped for. It not only introduced me to amazing people who are truly dedicated to their work, but it demonstrated to me all of the hard work that is put into a local non-profit organization. My fellowship allowed me to become more involved with the local community, taught me many valuable skills, and provided me with great insight into future jobs that I would be grateful to hold.”
This fellowship was an opportunity to work with a non-profit organization that incorporates research and citizen science to measure and improve the health of Casco Bay. In nearshore areas, such as clam flats, our waters are threatened by local sources of nitrogen pollution, which contribute to ocean acidification. As a summer fellow I monitored pH at 30 clam flats and helped analyze the data to determine the extent to which ocean acidification threatens clamming resources. I also worked to develop a replicable protocol for measuring pH in clam flat sediments, as well as helping with other scientific research and fundraising efforts.
"It was thrilling to see that such a small organization can have such a huge positive impact on Casco Bay. I had the opportunity to do a huge variety of projects, especially research in the field. My main project was on an issue that is important but often understated, since clamming contributes millions of dollars to local economies in the area. I tried to not only gather good data, but to also raise awareness about how coastal acidification is a very local problem."
The summer intern at the Town of Topsham in the Department of Planning and Development works with the Town’s Natural Resource/ Assistant Planner and attends meetings with the Town's Conservation Commission, Tree Committee, and the Historic District Commission. This position is a hands-on experience for students interested in municipal planning, conservation and natural resource planning. The two major projects the intern was involved in this summer were the watershed planning effort led by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and the Little River Fish Barrier Survey, led by the Androscoggin Valley Soil and Water Conservation District. The watershed planning effort involved research and field work to help Topsham identify non-point source pollution impacts, and offer remediation strategies. The Fish Barrier Survey focused on gathering data from many of the culverts in the Little River watershed. Interns from Topsham, BTLT and KELT attended a Fish Barrier Training session where they were taught how to survey culverts that may be functioning as fish barriers by preventing fish from swimming upstream. The results of this survey helped prioritize these culverts acting as barriers for replacement.
“The work I have done with the Town of Topsham in the Department of Planning and Development this summer has allowed me to explore my interest in the balance that exists between community growth and natural resource protection. The fieldwork I have been a part of, in addition to the knowledge I gained working closely agencies such as the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Environmental Protection as well as community groups such as the Conservation Commission and Tree Committee has provided me with an invaluable experience that will help me as I continue to pursue my interests in the environmental field.”
Cultivating Community is composed of a variety of different programs, all united by their common focus on strengthening neighborhoods through greater access to fresh, environmentally sustainable produce. Matt was involved in a few of these initiatives, including a Youth Program designed to help high school students farm and garden, and foster a greater understanding about the cultural, social, and biological importance of food. Matt assisted in running a Farm Stand that doubled the value of federal SNAP and WIC benefits, enabling low-income residents to buy more fresh vegetables. Matt also aided in the preparation and execution of weekly Twilight Dinners, which serve as a source of fundraising for the non-profit.
“Cultivating Community is aptly named. Working here this summer has given me the chance to see the variety of ways in which a single, small non-profit can work to strengthen a neighborhood. I have been truly struck by the awesome passion for food justice and a desire to generate greater access to healthy food that each staff member embodies, and that permeates the values of the high school students enrolled in Cultivating Community’s Youth Program.”
Matt Gamache ’13 worked with the conservation policy team at The Nature Conservancy to experience how a global environmental NGO functions on a local level. His major project involved international networking to improve TNC’s understanding of river restoration projects impacting the health of sea-run fish across the North Atlantic, such as Atlantic salmon. This consisted of domestic and international emails and calls with an ultimate goal of finding a leading European expert to bring to a conference co-hosted by TNC in Orono, ME this January. In addition, Matt spent time drafting research briefings on the Portland fish exchange and working on the Land for Maine’s Future campaign. To get out of the office, Matt also spent numerous days doing trail maintenance on various TNC-run preserves across Maine for the Stewardship staff.
“Whether spotting moose while doing trail work or making calls to The Netherlands from the office, there was never a dull day working for The Nature Conservancy in Maine. Bird watching, bog bridging, and writing letters to the editor were all made even better by working alongside truly passionate and inspiring people. I gained a firsthand understanding of how a worldwide NGO functions in the Pine Tree State and I am grateful to have had such a rewarding and fun summer.”
Michele worked for Erickson Fields Preserve, a program of Maine Coast Heritage Trust that grows vegetables for local food pantries and schools. Erickson Fields Preserve runs multiple youth growing programs, with a highlight on the Teen Agricultural Crew. The Teen Ag. Crew grows thousands of pounds of vegetables that are delivered to pantries through the Mainers Feeding Mainers program. Michele spent much of her time with the teens working the farm, which ranged from garden organization to planting, weeding to watering, harvesting to delivering, and lesson planning to executing environmental awareness activities with the teens.
"Working for Erickson Fields Preserve has offered me a true appreciation and realization for the work that goes into running a farm and providing food for Maine’s hungry. Delivering fresh produce to local food pantries provides satisfaction both in knowing that we are feeding those in need, and that we are conserving Maine’s distinct land and soil."
This summer Morgan worked at the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) in Bath, ME. She worked on a multitude of office projects as well as working in the field. In the field Morgan conducted surveys of culverts in Topsham, Durham, Bowdoin, and Brunswick as part of a larger culvert survey of the Kennebec and Androscoggin Rivers and their tributaries. This survey is to assess whether some of these culverts pose as a barrier to fish passage. As well, she acted as a water quality sampler for a clam flat shellfish project that KELT has been running for the past year. In the office, Morgan researched the history of the Kennebec and developed a timeline of its rehabilitation. This timeline was accompanied by a GIS map with landmarks, rehabilitation sites, parks, recreational areas, and areas for further work. She attended committee meetings and events, learning about the inner workings of the land trust and the way that non-profits are run.
“My summer at KELT has shown me the real life application of the conservation principles that I had only learned about at Bowdoin. Through both field and office work I was able to experience the varying facets of a Land Trust’s work and the large impact that it can make.”
Working with Maine Conservation Voters, Rachel developed her understanding of how directly legislators’ actions on environmental issues affect our economy and way of life in Maine. Whether she was editing the 2012 Environmental Scorecard, researching open-pit mining in Maine, or curating content for MCV’s various social media outlets, Rachel was delighted to see how her daily work at MCV helped further environmental goals. She gained firsthand experience in environmental policy at MCV, fostering a concrete connection between what she has learned in the classroom and how she can apply that knowledge to the real world beyond Bowdoin.
"Working with MCV helped me to understand how directly legislators’ actions on environmental issues affect our economy and way of life in Maine. It was an incredible feeling to see how my work helped further environmental goals. I gained firsthand environmental policy experience at MCV, fostering a concrete connection between what I have learned in the classroom and how I can apply this knowledge in the real world beyond Bowdoin."
Teresa Withee ’15 (Environmental Studies & Economics) worked with the Kennebec Land Trust, an organization based in Kennebec County whose mission is to work cooperatively with landowners to conserve and protect lands that define central Maine in perpetuity. Her time was spent equally in the office and outdoors, working on properties maintained by the Land Trust and taking on tasks such as grant writing, press releases, mailings, and designing invitations for events. She also had the opportunity to start a project on local wood in Kennebec County and spent one day each week researching and working towards the completion of a draft of her findings.
"My time at the Kennebec Land Trust has given me a unique opportunity to serve my community while also exploring my environmental and economic interests in the form of a research project. Each day at the KLT provided me with a new experience and new insight into the world of non-profits, from the physical labor that goes into maintaining properties to the meticulous process of editing press releases that garner public support for the organization."
The Marketing and Media internship at the Nature Conservancy consisted of two major projects. The first was documenting seven preserves The Nature Conservancy manages around the state with new or updated webpages. Webpages included information such as ecologically significant or interesting features, trail information, audio and video podcasts, and photographs. The second project was writing about the Conservancy’s Leaders in Environmental Action for the Future program, or LEAF, a program that offers paid internships for urban high school students to come work in TNC’s preserves. This year, three girls from Chicago helped construct a new boardwalk at the Saco Heath Preserve in Saco, Maine. The story was published in the Biddeford Journal Tribune and in the Conservancy’s newsletter. In addition to these two projects, the internship included a significant stewardship aspect, with trail work excursions every week, from as far north as the Debsconeag Lakes by Baxter Park to as far south as Tatnic Hills in York County.
"In my first week at the office, The Nature Conservancy swept me up to the Penobscot River and gave me a front row seat to a dam destruction. That first experience set the tone for the wild ride that the next 10 weeks at the Maine Chapter turned out to be. Working with the Conservancy let me witness firsthand the cutting-edge conservation work happening in Maine, but more importantly, it let me play a real role in it, from creating new content for their website to writing and publishing a newspaper article."