Category: News

SMCC Welcomes our 2022 Summer Associates to the team

The Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative is excited to have Chas Van Damme and Madison Sheppard join our team this summer.


“Hello! My name is Chas and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with SMCC and MEEA this summer! I am a rising Senior at Bates College studying Environmental Studies with a focus in Global Environmental Politics. I’m an avid hiker, love to bike, and will eat just about anything you put in front of me!

As climate change continues to surface its ugly head throughout the world, its impacts have only grown in scale. This couldn’t be more evident in my hometown of Harpswell, where eroding peninsulas stretch far into the fastest-warming ocean body in the world, and the once booming lobster industry now faces projections of drastically declining lobster populations. Seeing first-hand the impacts of human-induced climate change has largely motivated me to find ways to play an active role in reducing these issues at their core. Having worked with a local land trust as a field team member last summer, I got my hands dirty by manually eradicating invasive species, managing trail erosion, and even caring for recently-planted American Chestnut seedlings. Now, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue similar work, but at the research and investigative level by working with SMCC and MEEA on a wide array of projects, each of which uniquely contributing toward improving and rehashing more equitable relationships with the world around us. Through SMCC, its members, and MEEA, I am especially interested in deepening my understanding behind the politics of conservation and working to mitigate the disproportionate impacts that BIPOC and low-income communities continue to face when it comes to environmental harm. It’s going to be a great summer and I can’t wait to start learning from all the wonderful people working tirelessly to protect this region we call Maine.”


My name is Madison and I am a 21 year old artist and activist living in Western Maine. I spent most of my life where I grew up, in Cape Cod, MA. We lived close to the ocean, which aided my passion for shark conservation. I wanted to be a marine biologist growing up, and spent a lot of time at the science labs in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the age of 11. This position will help me get started in conservation work, where one day I can help protect endangered species and habitats… maybe I’ll start with some sharks :). I am now a college student currently majoring in biology and astrophysics.




Outlook with Zofia Leary-Forrey

This Spring, Zofia Leary-Forrey, a rising senior at Cape Elizabeth High School, set out to learn more about how youth connect with the natural world and find out more about their response to Climate Change. Through meeting and interviewing many students, ages 14 to 18, she was able to get an array of perspectives and insight into what the younger generation is feeling and thinking.


By Zofia Leary-Forrey

Every person has a different experience with nature. Some have them on the water, others in the mountains, some in the forest, during the first snowfall, and on long walks. “It’s fun to be in the sun all day,” and “[immerse] myself into the sounds, smells and beautiful images” of nature. It is fun to use nature to connect with my sisters, grandmothers, and parents. We worry that these shared experiences with family, friends, and nature will end as technology advances. “Younger kids are given iPads,” breaking their possible connection to the natural world. They spend hours watching Cocomelon instead of being outside painting rocks or building fairy houses like we did when we were kids. Younger kids will not get the same experiences as we, or our parents, or grandparents did. Our generation doesn’t even get to experience nature at its best, and “nature deserves to be at its best.” “[We] try to appreciate nature more,” but as time moves forward we notice the creeping tides, slushy snow, warmer waters, and shorter winters. “The world is ending,” and we have “no power, no money, and little education on what to do.”

We are angry. Angry at older generations, corporations, and our educational systems. We want to believe our generation can be the ones to bring change, but it is difficult when we are not the ones responsible for causing the issue and when the impacts are harder to visualize. We wish that “the lack of compassion for the planet” was not a looming presence, but misinformation and misconnection have created a rift between humans and the environment. We feel defeated when we realize “one person can not take down an entire corporation,” then annoyance leeches in when we see that all the corporations do is “greenwash.” We want to be sustainable, but oftentimes it is inaccessible. We wish we could say that we were climate activists, but the resources are not always there. Our future is “weak” and “bad” if this cycle continues. “[We] want to have a future”, we want “the skinny polar bears in the Arctic to live,” we want “the little bugs that crawl into [our] homes” to live, and we “would like to live.” To do this, “we need to band together to break the cycle ~ this earth does not equal money. ”

We are doing what we can in the ways we know how by recycling, composting, shopping second hand, eating less meat, shopping local, using our cars less, and educating ourselves. However, a lot of the time these practices feel small. We are hopeful for a greener future, and we will start by each doing our parts. As a generation, we were raised to “stand up against bullies and to support victims,” today, tomorrow, and in the following, we will do just that. We will stand for the animals, the mountains, the lakes, the oceans, the trees, and our futures because as the youngest generation, we understand there is no time left.

Outlook explores variables that shape and influence individuals relationships with nature and how they seek to inspire, adapt and reimagine what conservation can look like moving forward in a world where Climate Change is affecting a broad range of human and natural systems.

Summer Associate Job Post

The Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative (SMCC) and the Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) are teaming up to offer two full-time Summer Associate positions. This collaborative position is a unique experience to learn about and assist with both conservation and environmental education.

Position: Summer Associate (2 positions)Pay rate: $19/hour (over a 10 week period)Preferred Start Date: June 6, 2022 (flexible)Application Deadline: April 20, 2022


The Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative (SMCC) is a non-profit organization with the mission to work collectively in Maine to create mutually beneficial relationships with the earth, communities, and people through the conservation movement. SMCC works with many conservation organizations in Maine to amplify, support, and build capacity in their work. Our work improves the coordination and effectiveness of numerous organizations that work on protecting land and water by providing professional support services, collaborative learning, resources, and networking opportunities. The Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) is also a non-profit organization with a mission to enhance and amplify the efforts of individuals and organizations building environmental awareness, appreciation, understanding, and action in Maine. MEEA works with a wide network of environmental educators, students, organizations, and other individuals across the state. MEEA envisions a just and sustainable Maine where interconnectedness with the natural world is the root of environmental and social responsibility of all individuals, institutions, and communities.


Both SMCC and MEEA are committed to building more inclusive and equitable conservation and environmental movements in Maine. Our organizations are actively leaning into the intersection of the environment, conservation, and social equity, and we are committed to weaving this intersection through all of our work. We are continuously learning about our blind spots and unconscious biases. We know that biases and disparities disproportionately burden communities of color, indigenous communities, people with physical and mental disabilities, and low-income communities with legacies of environmental damage and ongoing harm. It is our duty to ensure that our work does not propagate destructive, damaging practices, and instead is addressing barriers and fixing inequitable systems.


This summer, SMCC/MEEA is hiring two summer associates to attend to a variety of projects. Projects could use the skills and interests from individuals with a variety of backgrounds. These projects may include:

  • Developing an overall understanding of conservation, including the conservation process (ex: easements, fee ownership, stewardship) and land justice
  • Supporting the evaluation and outcomes of the Relearning Place Convening
  • Engaging in equity-related programming and trainings including MEEA’s Beyond Statements Equity Calls
  • Learning GIS skills and assisting with the mapping of conservation properties in Southern Maine as part of the Rapid Response Program
  • Supporting tasks as needed related to the ongoing work of the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative, which might include social media, conducting interviews, writing and contributing content/storytelling, photography/videography, surveys, reports, fundraising, research, administration, community engagement support and more
  • Creating a story map and/or engaging in storytelling initiative as part of the Climate Change Observatory Network
  • Conducting research and writing reports on land justice, equitable nonprofit structures, or other pressing issues
  • Learn about non-profit administration, operations, and systems
  • Engage in professional development opportunities including webinars, trainings, and conference opportunities.

The position will average 10 weeks between June – August and the hours per week may be between 30-40 hours depending on circumstances. The position is based out of the SMCC office in Portland and depending on state guidelines related to covid, could be a combination of remote and in person. The position might include travel, primarily in Southern Maine (Federal rate reimbursable if work travel is conducted in personal vehicle). It is not required that you have your own car or computer.


  • Ability to collaborate effectively with a diverse range of people and organizations
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • The ability to stay organized and communicate effectively working in a remote or hybrid work environment
  • Basic proficiency in Microsoft Office, GSuite products, and Airtable

We are committed to supporting your learning and training in skills development and experience and will provide funding towards these development opportunities.


  • An enthusiasm and commitment to equitable, inclusive, and just conservation and environmental movements.
  • Be between the ages of 18 – 30 and willing to live and work in Southern Maine this summer.
  • Independent, self-directed worker having the ability to work closely with people from diverse backgrounds and foster collaboration.
  • Flexibility and comfort with working on multiple tasks.


Please send your resume, a list of 2 references, and a cover letter that contains responses to questions below to conservationcollaborative@gmail.complease include ”Summer Associate 2022” in the email subject line.

  • Why do you feel that you are a strong candidate for this position?
  • How do you hope this experience will serve you, your work, and your community?
  • What specific part of this position description resonates most closely with your life experience and/or your vision for the future?

Please address your cover letter to Jessica Burton.

SMCC reserves the right to conduct background checks as a condition for employment. Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative is an Equal Opportunity Employer.


Collaborative Conservation for Climate, Community, and Cohesion

In the past few years, the collaboration known as the Rapid Response Team for York County Conservation has been working to pursue larger-scope conservation projects in the Southern Maine region, with promising successes so far. The Rapid Response Team (RRT) is comprised of the Saco Valley Land Trust, Francis Small Heritage Trust, and the Three Rivers Land Trust, all members of SMCC. SMCC initiated this group in 2019 with a grant from an anonymous private foundation and Jess has continued to play the role of convener, facilitator, and support.

Together, the RRT members decided on a focus for their efforts – speeding resources to support large-scale land conservation projects having a regional impact specifically related to equitable access, climate resiliency, and contiguity. We know that this region’s character is threatened by continuing development, fragmentation, and disruptive land use. York County is unique and significant because it contains some of the state’s most valuable timberland, high biodiversity, accessible recreation areas, and some of the most climate-resilient landscapes. Southwestern Maine has tremendous capacity to help Maine reach its climate goals by sequestering carbon in its forests while also providing economic opportunity and ecological benefit. And yet, most of the land protection work in western York County, where these large blocks of forest remain, is pursued by the efforts of three small, minimally staffed land trusts.

In 2020, the team received funding ($180,000) from the anonymous foundation to help secure a 550-acre property now known as the Sanford Community Forest. This early funding was received by Three Rivers Land Trust early in their fundraising effort and as such not only provided resources to cover early expenses like survey and environmental assessment costs, but also served as match and proof-of-viability for other granting programs and major donors. The land trust ultimately raised about $780,000 from a variety of sources and successfully acquired the land. Without the vote of confidence and connection to early funding through the RRT, this project would have been a longer and more difficult struggle to complete, if it was successful at all.

In 2021, the RRT engaged Cheri Dunning as a Conservation Project Assistant to work with the individual land trusts and further the goals of the RRT. As part of the Cheri’s work, the Francis Small Heritage Trust successfully proposed the Porter Hills Conservation Initiative as a RRT project and received funding ($100,000) to assist the early work of this ambitious project, which has the potential to conserve up to 1,200 acres in and near the state-designated Focus Area of the Porter Hills. Cheri is now helping the land trust to apply to the Land for Maine’s Future program to assist with the same initiative.

The Saco Valley Land Trust is now also developing a conservation project to propose to the RRT, contributing to regional conservation efforts and keeping up the momentum of this collaboration. The RRT assistant is working with SVLT to structure the project and determine funding needs.

The original vision for the Rapid Response Team was a working group that increases the speed, scale, and regional impact of land conservation in southwestern Maine, with clear priorities, shared capacity, and the ability to quickly act on conservation projects that might otherwise be out of reach. So far, the RRT has had great success following that goal, and we expect and hope to see it continue.

Photo: Boards of Three Rivers Land Trust and Mousam Way Land Trust at Sanford Community Forest.

Photos: stream, bog, and wetlands in the Porter Hills Conservation Project & Sanford Community Forest.

Earthrise poem by Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman, December 2018, presented her original “Earthrise” four-minute poem as part of a Climate Reality Project “24 hours of reality” campaign. “It is a hope that implores us at an uncompromising core to keep rising up for an Earth more than worth fighting for.”

Earthrise poem by Amanda Gorman –

On Christmas Eve, 1968, astronaut Bill Anders
Snapped a photo of the earth
As Apollo 8 orbited the moon.

Those three guys
Were surprised
To see from their eyes
Our planet looked like an earthrise
A blue orb hovering over the moon’s gray horizon,
with deep oceans and silver skies.

It was our world’s first glance at itself
Our first chance to see a shared reality,
A declared stance and a commonality;

A glimpse into our planet’s mirror,
And as threats drew nearer,
Our own urgency became clearer,
As we realize that we hold nothing dearer
than this floating body we all call home.

We’ve known
That we’re caught in the throes
Of climactic changes some say
Will just go away,
While some simply pray
To survive another day;
For it is the obscure, the oppressed, the poor,
Who when the disaster
Is declared done,
Still suffer more than anyone.

Climate change is the single greatest challenge of our time,

Of this, you’re certainly aware.
It’s saddening, but I cannot spare you
From knowing an inconvenient fact, because
It’s getting the facts straight that gets us to act and not to wait.

So I tell you this not to scare you,
But to prepare you, to dare you
To dream a different reality,

Where despite disparities
We all care to protect this world,
This riddled blue marble, this little true marvel
To muster the verve and the nerve
To see how we can serve
Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician
To make it your mission to conserve, to protect,
To preserve that one and only home
That is ours,
To use your unique power
To give next generations the planet they deserve.

We are demonstrating, creating, advocating

We heed this inconvenient truth, because we need to be anything but lenient
With the future of our youth.

And while this is a training,
in sustaining the future of our planet,
There is no rehearsal. The time is
Because the reversal of harm,
And protection of a future so universal
Should be anything but controversial.

So, earth, pale blue dot
We will fail you not.

Just as we chose to go to the moon
We know it’s never too soon
To choose hope.
We choose to do more than cope
With climate change
We choose to end it—
We refuse to lose.
Together we do this and more
Not because it’s very easy or nice
But because it is necessary,
Because with every dawn we carry
the weight of the fate of this celestial body orbiting a star.
And as heavy as that weight sounded, it doesn’t hold us down,
But it keeps us grounded, steady, ready,
Because an environmental movement of this size
Is simply another form of an earthrise.

To see it, close your eyes.
Visualize that all of us leaders in this room
and outside of these walls or in the halls, all
of us changemakers are in a spacecraft,
Floating like a silver raft
in space, and we see the face of our planet anew.
We relish the view;
We witness its round green and brilliant blue,
Which inspires us to ask deeply, wholly:
What can we do?
Open your eyes.
Know that the future of
this wise planet
Lies right in sight:
Right in all of us. Trust
this earth uprising.
All of us bring light to exciting solutions never tried before
For it is our hope that implores us, at our uncompromising core,
To keep rising up for an earth more than worth fighting for.

Oceanside Conservation Trust Climate Change Observatory Sites

Oceanside Conservation Trust of Casco Bay (OCT) is part of the Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative’s Climate Change Observatory Network. OCT has installed a Climate Change Observatory (CCO) site on Long Island, Little Diamond Island and Cliff Island. Crowdsourced photos taken by community members, visitors and stewards at each of the CCO photo monitoring post locations are instantly integrated into the sites time lapse video to help monitor environmental changes that occur over time and to assist with the observation, measurement and documentation of long-term climate change trends in our communities.