UMaine interns complete conservation projects in Washington County

Posted Aug. 21, 2011, at 12:41 p.m.

MACHIAS, Maine — Nine interns in the first class of the University of Maine-based Acadian Internship recently completed conservation projects throughout Washington County.

The course was a six-week program and consisted of landscape-scale conservation projects that included stream restoration, sustainable agriculture, alternative energy, forest management and boundary mapping. The projects were in Calais, Machias, Grand Lake Stream and Columbia Falls.

Host organizations included the Downeast Salmon Federation, Washington County Council of Governments, Down East Lakes Land Trust and the Open Space Institute.

The students — who hailed from the U.S., Belize, Canada and Zimbabwe — kept blogs while they worked.

Nathan E. Rutenbeck of Brooklin, Maine, is a master’s degree student at Yale Divinity School. His internship was spent at Stoneset Farm in Brooklin, a diversified operation.

“This has been great training for the conservation of the future, which will undoubtedly center around balancing economic, environmental and human dignity challenges,” Rutenbeck wrote. “It can hardly be clearer that these three pillars are of central importance across disciplines, especially in business and governance. It is my understanding that this will only become more critical to the survival and flourishing of human communities during the 21st century.”

Makeddah John from St. Lucia concentrated his work at the University of Maine at Machias and the local Food and Fuel Network. John spent hours interviewing Washington County farmers. “They are down-to-earth people who farm not just for money but who do this work as a way of life and a philosophy,” John said. “This is why many of the farmers that we met are either certified organic or farm in an organic and sustainable manner. These types of people are essential to community development because they are interested in balancing economic viability with ecological integrity as well as caring about the social aspects of their community.”

The interns completed their stay with classroom session at the Schoodic Education and Research Center in Winter Harbor where they provided overviews of what they accomplished and what they learned while in Washington County.

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