Marlie Perkins '18
The summer before I came to UNE, a professor from the Department of Environmental Studies contacted me and asked me if I wanted to participate in the first-year Green Learning Community (GLC) program.
For the GLC, you take a series of 1.5-credit courses during your first year, and you are in all of your classes with the same group of people. There are two different groups — Group A and Group B. You take a different version of biology than the typical first-year requirement. Then there are other classes that you take with your specific group of people, like Literature of Nature, Environmental Issues, and Environmental Economics. You also take a lot of field trips together. Everyone in my group got so close during that first year. We spent a lot of time with the faculty too. It was really cool. After first year, I had built that foundation with my classmates, and it was so nice.
The whole Environmental Studies Department feels like a family. Everyone made me feel involved in the program on a personal level rather than strictly an academic one. The department stood apart to me at UNE because of its genuine care. Every faculty member cares so much about their students. It fosters a great community.
During my junior year at UNE, I didn’t know what to do about internship prospects, so my advisor — who is well connected with Maine conservation and preservation efforts — helped me. He thought I would be a good fit for Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge and put me in touch with the biologist there.
I went and shadowed and learned a lot. At the end of the semester, they told me that they loved having me and asked if I would participate in one of their summer internships, so the following summer I went back and was the Plover Intern.
From my experience, I realized that I really enjoyed the outreach part of the job. I think it’s so important to educate people and close the disconnect between scientists and the general public. I liked finding ways to make these issues matter to the general public during my summer internship. It’s not always complicated science. There is a way that everyone can understand the science and the importance of the environment and its parts.
At Rachel Carson, we work locally to make improvements, and we try to present that in a way that matters to the general public. None of the work we’re doing matters if people aren’t supporting it because there is a bigger picture. There are always going to be more issues — or bigger issues — that we could deal with, and getting the public involved helps the work we do greatly. It builds the impact that we can have.