I grew up in Maine, near Portland and the gorgeous coast bordering the Atlantic Ocean. My mother is a forest ecologist and my father an angling author and Maine fly-fishing guide, so it comes as no surprise that I am passionate about Maine’s environment. In fact, my very first summer internship was with the Natural Resources Council of Maine back in 2010!
After studying ecosystem science and conservation at the Duke Nicholas School of the Environment, I decided I was truly interested in communicating science and conservation. In an effort to bring that passion back to Maine, I applied for a National Geographic Young Explorers grant to take four trips to the Maine North Woods in each of the four seasons.
The North Woods covers over three million acres, and encompasses the headwaters of the Penobscot, Kennebec, Aroostook, Allagash, and Saint John’s Rivers. Each of my expeditions aims to follow one or more of these headwaters, starting with the East Branch of the Penobscot River in the fall, Moosehead Lake and the Kennebec River in the winter, Saint John’s River and its headwater ponds in the spring, and the Allagash and Aroostook Rivers in the summer.
In addition to exploring the different recreational opportunities in the region, including hiking, paddling, birding, fishing, snowshoeing, and what I like to call “river wading,” I will explore the conservation opportunities in the region as a whole. The North Woods provides exceptional habitat for many of Maine’s native flora and fauna; what could it look like in the future?
– Erika Zambello
Erika Zambello is a writer, birder, and photographer living and working along the Emerald Coast of Florida. She has a master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University, specializing in ecosystem science and conservation. Her love of the outdoors was inspired by a childhood in Maine, and she returned for her National Geographic Young Explorer grant in 2015-2016. She currently works as the Marine Economic and Tourist Resource Development Coordinator for Okaloosa County, where she manages ecotourism projects. Erika believes in the power of communicating conservation, and she has written for BirdWatching Daily, 10000birds.com, Florida State Parks, the Conservation Fund, Triangle Land Conservancy, the Maine Sportsman, and more. Her passion for exploration was the inspiration for founding both One World, Two Feet and TerraComm. Follow her outdoor adventures on Instagram!