Kaitlyn Bernard

Our Class Trip to Augusta!

Senior Colby Environmental Policy majors enrolled in one of the senior capstone courses get a tour of the Maine statehouse with Colby alumna Emmie Theberge (’08), Clean Energy and Global Warming Outreach Coordinator for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). Emmie was a student in this capstone course when she was an Environmental Policy major at Colby College. Front row (l-r): Carla Aronsohn, Ginny Keesler, Lindsay Garrard, Siya Hegde, and Kaitlyn Bernard; Back row (l-r): Noah Teachey, Jackson Broadbent, Emmie Theberg (NRCM, Colby ’08), Laramie Maxwell, and Garrison Beck

Submitted by Kaitlyn Bernard ’13

The first full month of the semester has blown by and seniors enrolled in the three senior capstone courses offered by the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College have hit the ground running. In the domestic, Maine-focused capstone, we are working on projects using the theme of “The State of Maine’s Environment.”  We got off to a great start by taking a field trip to Augusta, the state’s capital, to take advantage of resources that will help us to develop our final project ideas.

Our first stop was the Maine State Museum, where we explored some of the history of the state of Maine. The exhibits cover everything from forestry, mining, and agriculture to Maine’s prehistoric history.  The visit was a great way to get a general understanding of the historic context of Maine’s current environmental challenges and opportunities. As a Mainer myself, I really enjoyed connecting some of the museum exhibits to the area of Maine where I grew up and thinking about how our colorful past still characterizes Maine’s landscapes and people today. My favorite exhibit in the museum was the working three-story water-powered woodworking mill. A ramp wound around the whole mill, showing exactly how it worked from different angles.

After the museum, we headed over to the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) to talk with some leaders in state environmental advocacy. NRCM is a large nonprofit membership organization that works to “protect the nature of Maine” by engaging members and legislators on a variety of environmental issues. We spoke with Pete Didisheim, the Senior Director of Advocacy, and Emmie Theberge, the Clean Energy and Global Warming Outreach Coordinator, about emerging threats to Maine’s environment. Emmie is a Colby Alum (Environmental Policy major ’08) who wrote a paper on the “The State of Land and Resource Use in the Unorganized Territory in Maine” when she was a student in this course!  Pete and Emmie told us that some of NRCM’s biggest priority issues this year include a proposed East-West Highway, the tar sands pipeline running across Southern Maine, and potential mining projects across the state. These topics cover a lot of ground and are relevant in some way to nearly every group’s project focus.

Emmie took us all over to the Maine State House and gave us a guided tour, explaining how the state legislature works and sharing some of her experiences working on environmental policy in Maine. It was a great opportunity to be able to talk with a Colby Environmental Studies Program  alumna about her “real world” job and see what’s out there for Environmental Studies majors!

All in all, it was a great way to dive right into Maine environmental issues and gather a general context of the politics and issues that our projects will focus on.