Maine Policy Review Special Issue on Citizen Science

The Fall 2017 issue of Maine Policy Review (MPR, vol. 26, no. 1) is a special issue on citizen science in Maine. Citizen science initiatives are rapidly growing in number and popularity around the world, and Maine is a leader in this approach to science.

In the Margaret Chase Smith Essay, Ted Ames shares his view on the efforts of Maine’s commercial fishermen to engage in citizen science initiatives. Other articles describe projects that engage citizen scientists in monitoring alewives, tracking signs of the seasons, counting loons, protecting vernal pools, documenting bumble bee diversity, and using dragonflies to monitor mercury.

As they describe their projects, some of the authors explore the problem of how research approached through citizen science might better inform policy. Authors discuss whether the involvement of particular groups of citizen scientists is important for increasing impacts on policy and what quality controls must be in place for citizen science to be considered reliable. Several pieces examine the benefits of citizen science in schools as a way to engage students in authentic science.

Other topics covered include an online platform for citizen science projects, design principles for online learning communities, the Wabanki Youth Science Program, the importance of place in citizen science, interesting projects in Arizona and Colorado, and an interview with Abe Miller-Rushing of Acadia National Park.

Read more about the issue.

Maine Policy Review, Volume 26, Number 2, is now available for downloading from Digital Commons. Or read it on your phone or tablet.

Maine Policy Review publishes independent, peer-reviewed analyses of public policy issues important to the state. Archival issues are also available on UMaine’s Digital Commons.

Internship Report available

The Internship Report for 2017 has been distributed to Maine legislators and is now available for download from this site. A highly successful summer for the program saw 39 interns placed in state, municipal and regional government offices. The wide variety of their internships included engineering, public relations, GIS, planning, law, communications, environmental sciences, and more. While interns had primary projects they were responsible for, they often did a range of jobs which allowed them to explore many facets of state and local agencies. As one intern noted, “I really liked that I was trusted to work independently on the projects that I undertook. I really feel like everything that I accomplished this summer was my own, as opposed to just assisting my supervisors on things that they would already have been doing without me.”

An internship in Maine government is rewarding not only for the professional experience, but also for the co-workers. A municipal intern observed, “The biggest thing I think I learned from this experience about city government in Maine is that people are working hard and are passionate about making their communities better places.”

Internships in 2017 were located in Augusta, Portland, Bangor, Hallowell, Kennebunkport, Saco, Union, Rockport, Presque Isle. Some jobs involved in-state travel. Applications for the 2018 summer will be available from this website during February with a March 1 deadline for both students and supervisors. Interested supervisors and students apply to the program and are then matched based on their skills and experience. For more information, see the Student Programs section of this website.

Prof. Trostel will present at 2017 Higher Education Government Relations Conference

Professor Phil Trostel will present at the upcoming 2017 Higher Education Government Relations Conference on Thursday, December 7, in San Diego. Trostel, professor in the MCS Policy Center and School of Economics, will speak in a session entitled The Economic Case for State Investments in Higher Education—and How to Make the Case to Lawmakers. Trostel’s recent research has focused on the value of personal and state investments in higher education.  In this session, Trostel will outline the economic benefits of state investments in higher education, and two state relations professionals will share their government relations strategy, and how they make the economic case to lawmakers.

The Higher Education Government Relations Conference is an educational forum reflecting a partnership among four national higher education associations: the American Association of Community Colleges, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. The conference is coordinated by government relations staff from these associations and the Task Force on Higher Education Government Relations, comprised of state governmental affairs professionals representing the entire spectrum of American public post-secondary education.

MCS Library Scholarship Awarded to Fitzpatrick

The Margaret Chase Smith Library Scholarship for 2017-18 has been awarded to UMaine senior Delaney Fitzpatrick. Delaney is majoring in History with a minor in Anthropology and Professional Writing. She is writing her history capstone project on Margaret Chase Smith and will be visiting the MCS Library in Skowhegan for research of primary sources including Senator Smith’s personal and public papers that are available there. In examining Sen. Smith’s papers, Delaney plans to examine how Senator Smith challenged the tactics of her Senate colleague, Joseph McCarthy, while still firmly opposing the Soviet Union and Communist party activities in the United States.

Delaney says she chose Margaret Chase Smith’s political life as her topic because, “She was an inspirational political figure, an inspirational Maine figure and an inspirational woman. She is an honor to study.” Delaney is working with her advisor, Dr. Nathan Godfried, in the Department of History. She expects to finish her research by December, 2017.

This scholarship is funded by the Margaret Chase Smith Foundation and supports up to two UMaine students to engage in research using the archival or museum collections of the Margaret Chase Smith Library in Skowhegan.

Rep. Kenneth Fredette will visit UMaine Nov. 16

On Thursday, November 16, the Policy Center welcomes Rep. Kenneth Fredette as a Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow. Representative Fredette is serving his third term as the House Republican Leader representing House District 100, which includes Newport, Corinna, Plymouth, Etna and Dixmont. He has served on the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and Financial Affairs and the Joint Standing Committee on Elections.

Rep. Fredette earned a Master’s in Public Policy and Management with a concentration in Government Finance from USM’s Edmund Muskie School for Public Service, and a Juris
Doctor from the University of Maine School of Law. He also earned a Master’s in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Rep. Fredette is a member of the Maine Air National Guard and has served for twelve years as a Judge Advocate General (JAG). Currently an attorney in private practice, he has also taught at Eastern and Southern Maine Community Colleges.

Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows are prominent Maine individuals with past or current careers as policy makers in the state. The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center brings these individuals to campus for a day to teach an undergraduate class, engage faculty about research and public policy, and meet with UMaine administration and graduate students. Rep. Fredette’s visit is sponsored by the Policy Center and the Office of Innovation and Economic Development.

A reception with Rep. Fredette will be held from 4:00 – 5:30 in the University Club of Fogler Library and is open to the public.

Senate President Michael Thibodeau visits as Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow

On Thursday, Nov. 2, the Policy Center and the Office of Innovation and Economic Development sponsored Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau as a 2017 Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow.

The Maine Campus reported on his visit:

Maine Senate President speaks in Orono

On Thursday, Nov. 2, the University of Maine hosted Maine Senate President Michael Thibodeau as the 2017 Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow. The program is sponsored by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, a research and public service center at UMaine.

Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows are, according to the Margaret Chase Smith Center’s website, “individuals with past or current careers as policy makers in Maine — people of distinguished status and extensive experience.” Fellows are brought to campus and spend a day meeting with undergraduate and graduate students as well as faculty members, giving lectures and discussing research and public policy.

Sen. Thibodeau began his day on campus with President Susan Hunter, who hopes every year that the chosen Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow will leave a positive impact on the school.

“People on campus get a chance to talk about what they do to someone with fresh eyes,” Hunter said.

The aspect of the university that piqued Thibodeau’s interest the most was the engineering department, specifically its recent work on biodegradable cups.

“The University is very proud of its program,” Thibodeau said.

UMaine has plans in the works to expand the engineering department, but funding is partially up in the air. The Senate is currently debating how much state funding the expansion should receive.

At his guest lecture, Thibodeau spoke with political science students about the function of the Maine state government. He served for four years in the Maine House of Representatives, beginning in 2006, and is now nearing eight years in the Senate after being elected President in 2014.

“He’s been a very fair President,” Senator Jim Dill, Old Town, said.

A reception for the day was held in the University Club in Fogler Library Thursday evening, where Thibodeau, Dill, Amy Blackstone from the Sociology department and the Margaret Chase Smith Center and President Hunter attended along with others.

“He’s very willing to talk and listen to both sides.” Dill said.

Thibodeau and Dill discussed the importance of working across the aisle, as Thibodeau is a Republican and Dill is a Democrat.

“It isn’t about whether or not we agree on the issue. Folks have strong opinions but you have to try to understand,” Dill said.

“Each and every member of the Senate loves our state,” Thibodeau said. “And sometimes it’s the debate that brings out the best in us.”

Also present at the reception was Mary Cathcart, who has been with the Margaret Chase Smith Center since 2004 and started the Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows program in 2006.

“Every time we have visitors to campus, I learn something new about what students are doing on campus, and what they’re doing benefits us and benefits Maine,” Cathcart said, before presenting Thibodeau with a plaque and a Margaret Chase Smith bobblehead.

“I am honored and privileged to see all the hard work that’s going on at Maine’s premiere University,” Thibodeau concluded, commending UMaine for its dedication to the next generation of Mainers and commitment to keeping young people in the state. “We need people to stay here and be Mainers for the rest of their lives.”

by Hailey Bryant of the Maine Campus


Rubin appointed to national transportation panel

Policy Center director Jonathan Rubin was appointed as a panel member to the NCHRP 25-56, “Methods for State Departments of Transportation to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Transportation Sector.”

This research will identify specific efforts and strategies to reduce transportation sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are within state DOT control and provide methods for estimating and monitoring benefits and costs of these efforts. The National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) conducts research in problem areas that affect highway planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance in the United States. NCHRP is part of the Transportation Research Board which is part of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

Seven UMS students are Maine Policy Scholars for 2017-18

The Maine Policy Scholars Program welcomes seven undergraduates representing each of the seven UMS campuses for the academic-year scholarship program. One student at each campus has been chosen to conduct research on a topic of public policy importance to the state of Maine.

This year’s scholars are Allison Bernier (UMF), Corey Claflin (UMaine), Sam Atwood (UMA),  Alex Gillis (UMFK), Erik Squire (USM), Liz Whittaker (UMM), and Valentina Annunziata (UMPI). Their chosen research areas cover an array of topics: art education standards in Maine public high schools; food insecurity among college students; factors in life expectancy for mentally ill people; regeneration species for forest clearcutting; barriers to Maine students’ achievement rates in literacy; recycling in rural Maine; and inmate’s access to mental health services within Maine’s prisons and jails.

Scholarships are awarded annually to one student from each of the seven UMS campuses to work with a faculty advisor and a community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue facing Maine. Topics may range from local to statewide in significance and are expected to be well-defined, subject to research, and of current concern to Maine or a segment of its people. The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, and interviews – or all three. In the spring, each student produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policymaker that outlines the problem, data available, and recommended policy solutions.

Historically, one of Maine’s most important political characteristics is the openness of its public policy process. Legislators, the governor, and local and state agency leaders are accessible and interested in practical solutions to real-life problems. The Maine Policy Scholars program gives UMS students an opportunity to experience that process and make meaningful contributions to Maine’s future.

The program was conceived by the late Peter Cox to engage students from the University of Maine System in the public policy process. The program is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.

Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow Michael Thibodeau

On Thursday, Nov. 2nd, the Policy Center welcomes Michael Thibodeau, President of the Maine State Senate, as a Distinguished Maine Policy Fellow. Thibodeau has served in both the House and the Senate and currently represents Senate District 11 which includes all of Waldo County. Thibodeau has served on the Energy, Utilities, and Technology Committee, the Labor Committee, and the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee. He is also a small business owner.

Thibodeau has called upon his fellow state senators to work together over the next two years to address Maine’s biggest challenges including a biennial budget, tax policy, energy costs and improving the state’s business climate. Senate President Thibodeau said Maine will be a “better place to live, work and make a living if we work together.”

Distinguished Maine Policy Fellows are prominent Maine individuals with past or current careers as policy makers in the state. The Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center brings these individuals to campus for a day to teach an undergraduate class, engage faculty about research and public policy, and meet with UMaine administration and graduate students.

A reception which is open to the public will be held from 4:00 – 5:30 in the University Club of Fogler Library.

Rubin presents at Economic Development Conference

Policy Center Director Jonathan Rubin participated in a panel on “Growth Factors of the Regional Economy” at the Eastern Maine Development Corporation’s conference  on October 16th entitled Transformation of a Region: A Technology Driven Innovative Experience. The conference was a look at the successes of the region over the past four years in recovering from manufacturing and retail closures and job losses. Rubin presented some of the success stories from the University of Maine in research and technology development. Other panelists were Jim Damicis, Camoin & Associates; Jon Dorrer, Consultant; and Chuck Lawton, Consultant. The panel was guided by Darren Fishell of the Bangor Daily News. Rubin’s presentation showcased the opportunities offered by UMaine’s research and its impact on economic development of the region.