Do you know a Mainer ages 15-30 who is working hard to protect the nature of Maine? We encourage you to nominate them for a 2022 Brookie Award.
To demonstrate the impact of the Brookie Awards program, we’ve asked three of our 2020 Brookie Award winners to share in their own words why they were thrilled to win, skills they gained, and why Mainers ages 15-30 should apply. Learn more about Riley Stevenson, Gabby Hillyer, and Jordan Parks and why they each won a Brookie Award.
NRCM Rising, the Natural Resources Council of Maine’s young member arm, started the Brookie Awards in 2020 to recognize and celebrate Maine’s young environmental changemakers. We were honored to celebrate six exceptional Brookies in 2020 for their demonstrated leadership, creativity, collaboration, and positive impact for Maine’s environment. Now we need your help to identify our 2022 slate of Brookie Award winners!
Winners will each receive a $2,000 cash prize, have access to professional leadership and skill-building trainings, be featured in a short film about their work, and will be honored at a public awards ceremony in Portland in May 2022. Winners join a cohort of young leaders who are shaping Maine’s environmental future. Learn more on the Brookies Award website.
What did winning a Brookie Award mean to you?
Riley: Winning a Brookie was an incredibly important experience for me. As a young activist in Maine, it can be hard to have opportunities to connect to other activists, receive focused and useful training, and generally receive recognition about the important work being done in isolated communities. Winning a Brookie helped me realize my own role in important larger efforts in Maine and feel genuinely appreciated for the activism I had been engaging in for the previous year.
Gabby: The Brookie Award remains one of the most important benchmarks in my career, as a signal that I am moving forward as a leader in my field. It reignited my passion for the various aspects of my research and work. It also offered a unique chance to share my story, in the hopes of inspiring others.
Jordan: Winning a Brookie helped me realize that my art is being received as environmental advocacy, which encourages me to continue using art to spread awareness and help others connect to nature.
Describe a valuable skill you learned from the professional development training.
Riley: I gained incredibly valuable experience as a speaker presenting about my activism and general story. As a high school student and debater, I had spent a lot of time presenting information about current events or school subjects, but no time learning how to tell my own story in a compelling and exciting way. I enjoyed getting to explore how I present myself as an activist and speaker and having the time to craft my own talk, which communicated everything I felt was important about my own experiences.
Gabby: I developed new communication skills during the professional development training. These included public speaking as well as a better understanding of videography. Most importantly, this was an opportunity to practice the ability to discuss my work along a narrative, not just connecting to research, but really the stories that shape my work.
What was your favorite part about the retreat on Cow Island with Rippleffect?
Riley: I loved the dedicated leadership training we received on Cow Island. I was able to explore my own leadership style alongside the other Brookies and have discussions about how we all wanted to function within our groups moving forward. I consider this weekend a crucial turning point for my own leadership because I had never had the chance to slow down and think specifically about the type of leader I wanted to be.
Gabby: I really enjoyed the guest speakers and the variety of activities focused on leadership and team building. It was a really wonderful and unique experience that I will never forget.
Jordan: I loved connecting with other Brookie recipients in person and sharing an experience outdoors together.
How did you hear about the Brookie Award application and why were you motivated to apply?
Riley: I was contacted about the Brookie Awards by several different adults I had worked with in the past, all of whom urged me to apply based on their own positive experiences with NRCM. I was motivated to apply at first because I thought it would be a good opportunity to put together my various achievements and experiences in an application setting, without a lot of thought that I would actually win. However, I was also drawn to the unique chance to connect to other activists across the state and have access to the resources provided by NRCM.
Gabby: I heard about the Brookie Award applications from an environmental communication cooperative group at University of Maine. I felt motivated as this award felt like a good fit for my resume and the type of work I am doing.
Jordan: One of my best friends nominated me! I wasn’t fully motivated to apply, but going through the process was monumental in my own recognition of my art as a form of environmental advocacy.
Why should Mainers ages 15-30 apply for a Brookie Award this year?
Riley: Young activists should apply for a Brookie Award as a chance to showcase the important work they’ve done in the state and gain access to resources that will improve their communication skills and ability to lead more effectively. For any young person looking for recognition for an exciting but isolated project, this is a great chance to bring those projects to a bigger stage and gain valuable insight about what makes a successful group and leader. Additionally, it’s just fun! The weekend on Cow Island was amazing, and I have kept in touch with several of the other award winners from 2020, all of whom are wonderful, like-minded individuals.
Jordan: The application process provides an opportunity for reflection, and the program itself offers connection with other young changemakers in Maine!
—by Todd Martin, NRCM Rising Director
Banner photo of some 2020 Brookie Award winners at Cow Island retreat. Photo by Foreside Photography