Alumni and Careers

Welcome to the environmental studies alumni webpage. This page serves to connect alumni who pursued environmental studies while at Bowdoin with current students, faculty, and staff.
Ben Martens Class of '06

Ben Martens

Class of: 2006

Location: Brunswick

Major(s): Government and Legal Studies, Environmental Studies

Minor(s): Biology

“The best piece of advice that I was given and constantly tell people over and over again is: ask for help and lean on alumni who are around you to help you. I got a lot of jobs and lot of connections from alumni who had no clue who I was, but they were willing to vouch for me because I graduated from Bowdoin. Being brave enough to ask for help once you graduate is a skill you need to embrace.”

What you can do with a coordinate major in Environmental Studies

Ben Martens graduated Bowdoin in the Spring of 2006 with a coordinate major in Environmental Studies and Government and Legal Studies, minoring in Biology. He currently works as the executive director for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, located in downtown Brunswick.

Originally from a small town in New Hampshire, Ben arrived at Bowdoin intending to participate in the environmental studies program, an aspect of the college that initially brought him to Bowdoin. He was especially drawn by the interdisciplinary nature of the ES program, getting the opportunity to pair the major with another area of study in order to view the environment through another related lens. Choosing government and legal studies was an appropriate choice for his current employment, as Ben works day to day with fishermen on fisheries policy.

Participating in two environmental studies fellowships during his summers at Bowdoin, Ben expanded on this passion of both helping people and the environment which surrounds them. Working through GIS (geographic information systems), an involved mapping computer program, Ben worked to address kayakers’ effects on intertidal zones in Casco Bay surrounding the islands of Portland. In his second summer at Bowdoin, Ben worked with the Maine State Planning Office “speaking with fishermen and other users in two bays in Maine to think about how to practice co-management of the marine resources.” This fellowship was the Ben’s first introduction to working with fisheries policies and the fishermen themselves, intimately connected to his current line of work.

Despite this particular focus on the ocean and fisheries, Ben did not immediately step into fisheries policy after graduation. “When I first graduated from Bowdoin I worked for a political campaign in NH, working to get the governor there reelected, and that was a great experience that made me realize that I did not want to be in politics, and I took a job down in Boston working for a nonprofit that was focused on getting people access to the Charles River Parklands. Although that wasn't’t really what I found particularly inspiring, it was a great place to learn about non-profits and how they work and how to do a good job running one.” After that Ben moved to Cape Cod to work with the Cape Cod Fishermen’s Alliance turning fishermen into advocates for sustainable fisheries.

After those two and a half years, Ben moved back to Brunswick, where he currently works for the Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association as the executive director. Bowdoin’s liberal arts education thoroughly prepared Ben for working at a small non-profit. Looking back to his college years, Ben says, “I loved my liberal arts education, but I also got a liberal arts education then I got a liberal arts job. I run a very small non-profit, so I have to do a little bit of everything. And that’s what you learn from a liberal arts education: how to balance and get a little bit of knowledge and expertise in a lot of different things.

So, running a small non-profit, I need to know policy, I need to know history, I need to know how to write, I need to know how to make a budget.” Ben has been back now for eight years, thoroughly enjoying his old college town. “Brunswick’s a great place to live and now that I’ve got a family, I love being so closely connected to Bowdoin College. I have found a lot of joy in becoming friends with professors and faculty and the people that Bowdoin brings to Brunswick. I just think that that’s special,” says Ben when asked about what it is like to come back to a place he previously only viewed through the eyes of a student.

In Brunswick, Ben serves on the Sustainability Committee for the town of Brunswick, giving back to the community with his environmental expertise and bridging the gap between the town and the college community. Additionally, now with a family, Ben, his son Micah, and wife, also a Bowdoin grad, and his dog, explores the greater Brunswick area garnering a broader appreciation for mid-coast Maine.

Julia Rogers, class of 2008

Julia Rogers

Class of: 2008

Location: San Francisco Bay area

Major(s): History

Minor(s): Biology

Julia Rogers (Ledewitz), Bowdoin class of 2008, is Facebook’s first Global Sustainability Lead. Graduating with an environmental studies and history coordinate major with a minor in biology, Julia went on to pursue a job at MIT, a master’s degree in environmental engineering and planning, design engineering consulting, and finally, her current work at Facebook. From the beginning of her freshman year, Julia was set in the environmental studies track.

What you can do with a coordinate major in Environmental Studies

“My mom's an architect and my dad is a law professor who has spoken a lot about law and the environment, so I think I was a little set up for that track coming in,” said Julia, “it certainly was one of the reasons that I ended up selecting Bowdoin in the first place... their extraordinary environmental studies program.”

Julia took environmental studies 1101 in the fall of her freshman year, and quickly integrated herself into the program. A particularly meaningful class for her was an environmental history course taught by Professor Matt Klingle. The class introduced the “people component” of environmental studies, and set Julia up for thinking about the interactions of cities and society which influences her current interests.

In the summer after her first year, Julia received the Gibbons IT Fellowship to assist Professor Klingle, and Eileen Johnson with developing GIS mapping and georeferencing for some of his research. The following summer, she pursued a Kappa Psi Upsilon Environmental Fellowship with the Maine Energy Investment Corporation, where she researched renewable energy on many different scales. A particularly meaningful experience was interviewing Maine fishermen and starting a dialogue about using biodiesel in their boat engines.

“...it's much harder to talk to people who are not from your background… who are working out on the water with their hands every day for their livelihood and their family's livelihoods. Reaching across that kind of boundary was unlike anything I've ever done,” said Julia.

After Bowdoin, Julia went on to pursue her interest in building sustainably built environments. Immediately following graduation, she went to work for MIT’s facilities department where she learned how buildings and campuses are designed and how they use energy and water. This work as a facilities engineer showed her how to interact with this system every step of the way. During her work, she also earned her master’s degree in planning and engineering from Tufts.  After MIT, she began consulting as a sustainable design director for two different engineering firms. While leading these engineering teams, though, she desired something more reminiscent of her earlier work.

“The thing that brought me to Facebook was the desire to work with the whole system. I had really gotten away from that since my days at MIT,” said Julia, “When you consult, you consult on the design of each project; every day you're working on individual projects, but I rarely worked on a building through completion and occupancy.”

As Facebook’s Global Sustainability Lead, she now works on workplaces and workplace design, which necessitates a holistic approach. The job encompasses the “whole circuit,” working with facilities, development, waste, water, and people.

Reflecting on her time at Bowdoin, she does have some advice for current students.

“Get a project under your belt whether it's a GIS project with a professor, or whether it's a Psi Upsilon fellowship (with the Environmental Studies Program), or an internship… go do something! Try to apply what you think you know so you find out what you don't know... Don’t underestimate the value of being a really strong communicator, whether through writing, presenting, through any mode possible, communication is really key; that means being an even better listener than talker. The reason I think I've done as well as I have is I've really absorbed a lot from really intelligent people around me.”