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Conference Attracts Future Conservationists

A growing number of college students are attending MCHT’s Maine Land Conservation Conference. This year was no exception, with 15 young aspiring land conservationists attending from six colleges and universities. If this year’s attendees are any indication, Maine’s conserved lands will be in good hands for many years to come.

These students were among over 400 conservation-minded individuals who attended the conference’s two days of workshops focusing on all aspects of land trust work. Conference events included three sold-out field courses, an executive directors and board presidents meeting, a thought-provoking keynote address by the president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, Kristen Miale, and much, much more.

Thanks to a generous donor, Maine Coast Heritage Trust is able to offer full scholarships to students pursuing a career in environmental studies, nonprofit management, land management, and related courses of study. Having the students in attendance for the day truly enriches the experience for all involved, and creates valuable opportunities for dialogue and sharing.

Some of the student attendees at this year’s conference are already putting their new skills to use or will be in the months ahead. Rhyan Paquereau of Unity College will be working at Coastal Mountains Land Trust throughout the summer, while his classmate, Joseph Ranzoni, will be doing field and natural resource inventory work with nearby Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust.

Irene Syphers, a senior at the University of Southern Maine, hopes to use her Geology and Environmental Science studies to further land conservation in Maine as well as across the globe. “I am trying to learn all I can about land trusts and their practices,” shared Irene.  A summer intern for MCHT and the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, Ms. Syphers is currently applying to Environmental Management graduate programs and hopes to serve in the Peace Corps.

“Attending this conference allows me to continue to learn about current efforts in Maine, connect with those leaders making it happen, and be inspired to find my place in this amazing work,” explained Sasha Breus. A 2015 Master’s Degree in Environmental Studies recipient from Antioch University, Sasha grew up in Downeast Maine and has recently returned to her home state to pursue opportunities focused on the environment, land management, and citizen engagement.

“All of the students spoke highly of the experience and were very grateful for the chance to meet some amazing folks in the land protection movement. I am confident it inspired them to consider land trusts as options for their future careers,” reflected Unity Professor Tom Mullin.