Slideshow: Out Standing in their Field: Environmental Studies Students Get Hands-On Experience

As part of the redevelopment of the decommissioned Brunswick Naval Air Station, the Town of Brunswick will receive more than 1,000 acres designated for conservation and recreational purposes. In anticipation of this transition, Brunswick is developing an Open Space Management Plan for the area.

Environmental studies majors Michael Lachance ’13, Christopher “Woody” Mawhinney ’12 and Francis Joyce ’12 had the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this experience by working with staff from both the town and the National Park Service.


The partnership provided a chance for students to be learn more about the redevelopment of the site while bringing valuable resources to the town’s planning process.

In the summer of 2011, Lachance, a Community Matters in Maine/Psi Upsilon Fellow, conducted an extensive inventory of the existing trails and roads throughout the portion of the former base that will be conveyed to the town.

Using GIS and GPS technology, Lachance was able to provide a map and a series of detailed reports on site conditions. At the end of the summer, he presented his work to the town council and made recommendations on future development of the property.

“My fellowship with the Town of Brunswick gave me an exciting opportunity to combine my interests in economics and the environment,” says Lachance.

“I was able to work independently on the redevelopment of the Brunswick Naval Air Base, a significant and meaningful project that will be a tremendous asset to the community in the future.”

Building upon Lachance’s work, Mawhinney and Joyce conducted an analysis that considered constraints to trail development to determine whether to redevelop some or all of the pre-existing trails.

The students produced materials that will be used as part of the public participation process by the town’s planning committees. The students presented their results to a community forum held at the end of the spring semester.

”I really enjoyed working with staff from the Town of Brunswick on the project to help build an understanding about the former NASB parcel development that I have heard so much about,” says Mawhinney.

“Working with the Bowdoin students is a wonderful example of the collaboration between young leaders and community professionals on projects of significance,” says Denise Clavette, a special projects assistant for the town who worked with all three students throughout the planning process. “Thank you to Bowdoin for providing the Town of Brunswick with this opportunity.”

The development of the plan will be carried out over the course of the next several months, and next summer’s Psi Upsilon fellow will get the opportunity to become part of this process as well.

The Psi Upsilon Environmental Fellowship program is a component the Community Matters in Maine Summer Fellowship program managed jointly by the Environmental Studies Program and the McKeen Center for the Common Good.

The program places students with environmental and social service organizations, providing students with the opportunity to link work and community-based service and research to their academic experience, while strengthening the college’s community partnerships. Click here for more information about the program.

In addition to the Community Matters in Maine Fellowship Program, Bowdoin College offers many research and stipended summer fellowship opportunities for students through the Office of Student Fellowships and Research, McKeen Center, and Bowdoin Career Planning.


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