Ben2When I was ten I fell in love with the Maine Woods. Growing up in southern Maine, I frequented tide pools, and marshes, but it wasn’t until I started going to summer camp that my attention was fully captured by the state’s unique wilderness. At fifteen, after a week long encampment in the Rangely Lakes region, being tested by seasoned Maine Guides, I earned my Junior Maine Guide certification from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The program tested traditional wilderness skills, such as axemanship and backwoods cooking, but went further, challenging students to answer bigger questions on the state of Maine’s environment, forming their own opinions on issues ranging from milfoil removal practices, to the pros and cons of hunting and fishing traditions.
During my junior year in high school, I spent my fall at the Chewonki Semester School, learning about wilderness conservation, organic farming, and sustainability, with lessons often tying back to Maine. In the spring, back in Portland, I did a research project for my environmental studies class on woody biomass. I used Colby’s new co-generator as a case study, and came up to visit the school. After meeting students in Olin, and looking through a course catalog, I knew Colby would be a good fit for me, and that I would enjoy learning from any of the professors in the Environmental Studies department.  After taking a gap year, spending six months woking on organic farms across Europe and New Zealand, I came to Colby ready to learn, and jumped eagerly into the Green Cluster. By spring, I had declared myself an Environmental Policy Major, and was even fortunate enough to get internship funding to spend the summer working in Washington, DC, for the American Wind Energy Association.
At Colby I have been empowered to pursue my interests. With Outing Club, I can explore the Maine Woods, sharing my favorite places with friends. I have found solace from school stress in COFGA’s Runnels garden. In Colby Alliance for Renewable Energy (CARE) meetings I have had meaningful discussions on how to engage other students on issues both local and global. There are many courses required for the Environmental Studies major, and in my experience, the more classes you take, the more engaging, resonant, and rewarding the work becomes. Being an Environmental Studies major at Colby has kept me engaged in issues I care about, both in and outside of the classroom.