On September 25th, 2014, 15 Colby College seniors and their professor, Philip Nyhus, arrived at our Rockland office eager to learn about Maine islands. They are in the midst of a semester-long group project to fulfill a requirement for their Environmental Studies Senior Seminar. One of the five groups is tackling issues within the theme "the state of Maine islands" and this trip was an opportunity for the students to hear first-hand about the challenges and opportunities that exist on Maine islands. Our first stop was the Island Institute office on Main Street, Rockland, where Shey Conover, the Vice President of Operations, provided an overview of the 15 year-round, unbridged island communities that the Island Institute works to support. Shey discussed economic diversification, transportation, energy, municipal waste, education, health, and wildlife in the context of Maine Islands. The students were engaged and after an hour of peppering Shey with questions, we wrapped up our time at the Institute to head back to Journey's End Marina where we boarded M/V Reliance and traveled across the bay to Hurricane Island.
On Hurricane, Alice led students on a hike around the island pointing out our sustainable infrastructure, and the remnants from Hurricane's quarry era, which helped provide students with a historic perspective of how many Maine island communities operated in the late 1800s. Alice and the students drew similarities between island communities then and now with the potential challenge of economic dependence on a single commodity - in the quarry era, it was granite and today, lobster. In the evening, we discussed the Maine lobster and scallop fisheries to provide in-depth context on how we manage those fisheries at the state level.
On Friday morning, we traveled to Vinalhaven and stopped in at the Vinalhaven Fishermen's Co-op where Mike Mesko, the president, took some time out of his busy day to talk about how the co-op works and the state of the lobster fishery from his perspective. We also had the opportunity to meet with Andy Dorr, Vinalhaven's Interim Town Manager and Kelsey Byrd, Vinalhaven's current island fellow to ask questions about how to town's planning process is carried out and other issues the community faces.
We ended the excursion with a ferry run back to Rockland. All in all, hosting the Colby students was a wonderful experience and we hope to do so again in the future!