UMS Student Scholars Present on Pressing Policy Issues in Maine

Friday, November 8, the Maine Policy Scholars program held its final presentations for scholarship recipients. Four students from across the University of Maine System presented their research to four panelists, their friends and family, and the broader University of Maine System community. Hon. Libby Mitchell, Kennebec County Judge of Probate, former Maine Speaker of the House and President of the Senate served as moderator for the program.

Image on Hon. Libby Mitchell
Hon. Libby Mitchell

The Maine Policy Scholars program was established by Peter Cox and supported by many donors. It engages University of Maine System students in the public policy process. Working alongside a faculty advisor, one student from each university campus tackles a real-life policy issue facing Maine. After conducting extensive research, the scholars produce a final report in the form of a memo to the Governor or appropriate policymaker outlining the issue, the data available, and recommended policy solutions. The four scholars presenting this year, their respective majors and institutions, faculty advisors, and project titles were:

  • Taylor Cray, Political Science and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major, University of Maine. Faculty Advisor: Amy Fried. “Maine: Worth a Lifetime? A study of Maine’s Aging Population and the Lack of Young People Settling in the State.”
  • Mariah Langton, Early Childhood Education Major, University of Maine at Farmington. Faculty Advisor: James  Melcher. “Trio Programs on the University of Maine System Campuses.”
  • Jessica Sidelinger, Justice Studies Major, University of Maine at Augusta. Faculty Advisor: James Cook. “Human Trafficking Task Force and Data Collection for Human Trafficking in Maine.”
  • Evangelos Zarkadas, History Major, University of Maine at Presque Isle. Faculty Advisor: Larry Feinstein. “Maine’s Need to Enhance a Weak Transmission System Dealing with Energy Development Insufficiency.”
Left to Right: Cook, Feinstein, Fried, Melcher.

The panelists who read the work of these scholars, gave them recommendations of where to take their projects to get them enacted into policy solutions, and provided critiques and questions regarding their research come from distinguished policy and community service backgrounds. This year’s panelists included:

  • Lucas Butler, Maine Policy Scholar 2011-2012: Lucas Butler embodies the bright future for students who are selected to the Maine Policy Scholars program. He is currently working with the Libra Foundation as a project manager and construction manager for Pineland Farms Inc. and Monson Arts. He formerly served as the town manager of Monson for three years.
  • Tony Cox, Business Owner: Tony Cox owns Casco Bay Frames & Gallery in Portland. Cox also is the co-founder of the Bowdoinham Community Development Initiative, a nonprofit crowd-sourcing funding program for farmers and local businesses. His past positions include the board president of Portland Buy Local and the director of community and economic development for Bowdoinham.
  • Rep. John Martin, Maine House of Representatives: Rep. John Martin has nearly 50 years of service to the Maine Legislature. First elected in 1964, Martin has served 10 terms as speaker and four terms in the Senate. He currently serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs and the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. He also serves as a faculty advisor for the Maine Policy Scholars Program from the University of Fort Kent.
  • Dr. Robert Placido, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, University of Maine System: Dr. Placido has worked as a leader in higher education for 22 years. Having a broad background in all aspects of university operations, he has led groups in academic affairs, information technology, libraries, student affairs, veteran services, university public affairs, marketing, and enrollment.
Left to Right: Mitchell, Butler, Martin, Placido, Cox.

We would like to thank everyone involved in this year’s Maine Policy Scholars program including the moderator, panelists, the Cox family, the program’s many donors, and the Maine Community Foundation. Without the service and financial support of everyone involved in the program it would not continue to be a great success.

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