Summer 2017 Fellows

Environmental Studies Maine-based Fellowships

McClure Brower - Maine Migrant Health Program

Maine Mobile Health Program is a federally-qualified health center dedicating to improving the health of Maine’s migrant and seasonal farmworker population. MMHP conducts mobile clinics at various work camps throughout the state and coordinates care for over 1,500 patients through a team of community health workers trained to provide culturally appropriate services to a largely Hispanic and Haitian population. As a fellow at MMHP, Mac Brower, a Hispanic Studies and Government major, helped with patient intake at clinics, designed and conducted the 2017 patient satisfaction survey, and researched the health needs of seafood processor workers in the state.

“I’m interested in working in public health, so the opportunity to help provide care to an underserved population has been incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned so much about the important role farmworkers play in agriculture and the unique health challenges facing them. I’ve come out of this experience even more passionate about public health than I was before.”

Claire Day - Maine Coast Fisherman's Association & Merrymeeting Food Council

Claire’s fellowship with MCFA and MFC focused on the ways that fisheries and fishermen can be included in our local food systems. She focused on three main projects. The first was to trace Pollock and American Plaice from landing in Maine to people’s plates. We know little about where Maine fish, so integral to the identity of our state, end up. The second project was to look into ways that local farmers can find local fishmeal for fertilizer. The third project is to help other food councils include fishermen in the conversations. Fish are often overlooked in local food movements.

"My Community Matters in Maine Fellowship with Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association and Merrymeeting food council gave me the chance to meet my Maine community. I learned so much about fish, the people who catch them, and the people who care about them. I feel much more connected to this place."

Lauren Hickey - Town of Brunswick Planning Department

The Brunswick Department of Planning and Development aims to integrate the interests of its stakeholders to sustain Brunswick’s cultural, historical, economic, and ecological vivacity. As a fellow for the department, Lauren Hickey (Class of 2020, Environmental Studies and History major), surveyed and mapped erosion in Mare Brook, updated coastal bluff maps for the Shoreline Stabilization Task Force, researched the feasibility of a bike share in the Brunswick-Topsham region, and monitored conservation easements. She even got a chance to present at a televised Conservation Commission meeting!

“Working for Brunswick’s Planning Department opened my eyes to the relevant issues that the town faces and my own stake in them as a Bowdoin student and resident. It was exciting to experience the intersection of science and policy at the local level in the process of collecting data in the field using GPS, making maps using GIS, and communicating the results to advocate for change. In doing so, I realized that this process is often messy, and it pushed me to be more patient, persistent, and adaptable.”

Ripley Mayfield - Town of Topsham Planning Department

The summer fellow working with the Town of Topsham Planning and Development Office assists the Planning Director and Assistant Planner with various projects concerning the future of the town, its residents, and its resources. This year, the focus was primarily on GIS map creation and data collection for the town to utilize in creating their ten-year comprehensive plan. The fellow is based out of the municipal offices in Topsham, but also spends time outdoors conducting surveys or in committee meetings getting to know residents and familiarizing themselves with the processes of local government.

"Commuting across the river to work in Topsham has not only provided an immediate practical application of the Environmental Studies and GIS coursework I have learned at Bowdoin, but also allowed me to truly feel like a local. Through extensive mapping, surveying, committee meetings, and coworker friendships, I’ve come to know the town and its residents as a refreshing extension of my own college community."

Nickie Mitch - The Nature Conservancy

Housed within the External Affairs team, this fellowship focused on policy and communications but involved varied work on a number of topics. Key projects included an extensive policy memo on sea level rise, work on a nature-based education initiative in collaboration with other organizations around Maine, the creation of interpretive signage at TNC’s Basin Preserve, and a policy research project with TNC’s United States Government Relations team, as well as a number of smaller projects. Occasional opportunities for field work allowed for travel to beautiful sites around Maine.

“Working at TNC reaffirmed my commitment to the environmental field and was an incredible opportunity to see the inner workings of a leading global conservation organization. The passionate staff were very interested in getting to know me and my interests, and it was awesome to work alongside them as TNC integrates science, policy, and land acquisition to solve some of the toughest environmental challenges in Maine and abroad.”

Aaron Rubin- Stantec

Aaron Rubin (Environmental Studies and Government major) interned in Topsham for the consulting firm Stantec. The Topsham office focuses on environmental sciences and the commissioning of environmental projects, such as wind farms, within communities in Maine and across the country. As part of this role, Stantec performs acoustic bat surveys that monitor the presence of different bat species and the potential for bat fatalities at proposed wind farm locations.

Aaron used RStudio to create dynamic graphs and data tables that synthesized years of data from the company’s acoustic bat surveys in Maine. These graphs can be used to create regulations in Maine that help to reduce bat mortality at wind farms. Aaron also had the opportunity to both partake in the company’s field work, which included water sampling and vernal pool assessments, and to use RStudio to test how the significance of white nose syndrome varied across states and regions.

“The internship exposed me to new skills and helped me to understand the different components of environmental consulting. I enjoyed learning to code in RStudio and will use it in the future to analyze data in all academic fields. Additionally, it was interesting to see how business and environmental studies can intersect to create meaningful projects that benefit local communities and environments. It was a pleasure to work alongside the Topsham Stantec team that helped make my experience in the office very memorable.”

Environmental Studies Sustaianability Fellowships

Hannah Berman – Natural Resources Council of Maine

Hannah Berman ’18 (Economics and Environmental Studies) spent her summer at the Natural Resources Council of Maine, the state’s leading environmental advocacy organization. She worked on a diverse array of projects including legislative initiatives, solar energy constituency mobilization, evaluating congressional contribution data, and drafting advocacy articles. A July NRCM press release and media conference focused on the analysis she conducted of over 192,000 comments submitted on behalf of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. These experiences gave her insight into how state and federal environmental policy can be crafted to sustainably manage and protect the environment.

“From watching floor debates to spending at day at the national monument with my colleagues, I found getting to know the passionate people behind initiatives was just as valuable as familiarizing myself with environmental advocacy. The motivated, bright, and fun-loving team at NRCM constantly inspired me to seize project opportunities and take ownership of my own work. The complexity of environmental policy and community engagement fascinated me.”

Hannah Karlan – Cultivating Community

The Environmental Justice Fellowship encourages students to explore internships in the nonprofit sector or in other agencies that pertain specifically to issues of Environmental Justice. This fellowship allows students to accept an internship of their choice rather than one that is assigned. These nonprofits/agencies may focus on the intersection of the environment with race, class, and/or gender, and may be based in Maine or elsewhere. The Environmental Justice Fellowship provides a unique opportunity for students to explore careers pertaining to social justice and environmental studies in a focused, intentional manner.

"This summer, I worked as an Urban Agriculture Intern at Cultivating Community in Portland. Cultivating Community’s mission is to improve access to local and sustainable food systems and to empower community members through education and outreach. As an Urban Ag Intern, I worked directly with CC’s 12 community gardens throughout Portland. Through this internship, I was able to spend my days outside gardening, exploring Portland, and building relationships with the members of the local community."

Cooke Environmental Research Fellowships

Mikayla Kifer - Brunswick Topsham Land Trust

Mikayla partnered with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust’s Tom Settlemire Community Garden to research squash pests. Cucumber beetles in particular are a big problem in the community garden and interfere with growing food for the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program. Mikayla’s research studies whether planting various other crops (buckwheat, radishes, and nasturtium) in close proximity to squash can reduce the damage that cucumber beetles inflict. Although data are still being gathered, the results look promising and ideally this research will help the community garden grow food more easily while also adding some new crops to the mix!

"Researching companion planting this summer has been an excellent introduction to the struggles and joys of environmental research. I feel as though I’ve gained invaluable experience in working with different partners and interests along the way and I’m prepared to continue doing so. This project married my two goals of gaining experience and ending up with results that can help Maine farmers; I’m excited to see where this path leads me!"

Jamie Ptacek - Political Ecology of Maine's Agricultural System

Jamie was awarded the Cooke Environmental Studies Fellowship to pursue an independent research project on Maine’s food system. Through her independent study last semester that focused on Maine’s agricultural history, she was struck by a seeming paradox between the recent proliferation of small, local farms in Maine and ever increasing rates of food insecurity throughout the state. Her summer project sought to ask why this is the case. Why has an increase in local food production in Maine not led to a decrease in hunger, how are individuals and organizations in the state already working to bridge this gap, and what needs to change in Maine’s food system for the local food movement to be one that both supports small farmers and the food insecure? To address these questions, Jamie spent the summer conducting interviews with farmers and people employed at various non-profits and organizations that work on issues of local food and food insecurity in Aroostook, Washington and Cumberland counties.

"Over the past several weeks I have had the privilege to travel around Maine and talk to inspiring people working in every sector of Maine’s food system-from farmers, to professors, to people working at non-profits and NGOs focusing on anything from local food to food insecurity. I have never ceased to be amazed by the passion that these people have for working towards a more equitable and sustainable food system in Maine."

Hugh Cipparone - SEANET Bioregional Intern

This summer, Hugh worked for an organization called SEANET (Sustainable Ecological Aquaculture Network), which is a federally funded grant program designed to determine the potential for aquaculture development in the state of Maine. As a Bioregional Intern, Hugh created a white paper detailing the demographics, economic characteristics, and state of aquaculture development in the Casco Bay. This segment of Hugh’s work also required his contact with numerous aquaculture organizations and stakeholders. Hugh also engaged in independent research, using R and ArcGIS to spatially analyze media perceptions of aquaculture in conjunction with the work of other SEANET researchers.

"My experience this summer offered me an incredible variety of opportunities and work environments. It combined computer-based data analysis with numerous in person meetings. This project also united a number of personal passions. As an avid fisherman and Environmental Studies major, this focus on aquaculture continued my interest in the environment while utilizing my previous knowledge of ArcGIS. By merging all of these various experiences, this internship further developed my career plans while producing research pertinent to SEANET’s goals."