NRCM’s Annual People’s Choice Award
Our annual People's Choice Award honors a Mainer who has worked tirelessly to protect a special place, or has helped pass legislation safeguarding Maine’s environment, or has helped stop polluting companies from contaminating our state—someone who selflessly goes above and beyond to make sure future generations will enjoy the kind of Maine we know and love today.
Voting is Now Closed for Our 2021 People's Choice Award
You can still read about the five finalists and their work below. Thank you to everyone who nominated and voted for this year's People's Choice Award.
2021 People’s Choice Finalists
(in alphabetical order)
Anne D. (“Andy”) Burt of Edgecomb
Nominated by Cassie Cain, Amy Eshoo, Chloe Maxmin, and Ania Wright
The focus of Andy Burt’s work has always been on equity and grassroots organizing. Andy is a very active member of organizations taking the lead on tribal relations and outreach, equity, and lobbying on a wide range of issues including a Consumer Owned Utility for Maine and Tribal sovereignty, organizing with 350 Maine, Sierra Club Maine, Maine Climate Action Now, and the Maine Council of Churches. In the fall of 2020, Andy started and has led a campaign to pass an amendment to Maine’s State Constitution called The Pine Tree Amendment to ensure all Mainers have a constitutional right to the natural, cultural, and healthful benefits of the environment. She fundraised to hire youth interns, initiated sign-painting parties, lobbied in Augusta, facilitated statewide trainings, and much more. Andy’s efforts in Maine are part of the national movement, Green Amendments for the Generations. Her work is making Maine a leader in the country. Andy’s belief in Mainers as the solution to the climate crisis can be seen in Down to Earth Storytelling, the organization Andy founded and through which she created the short film, Maine Roadtrip to the Future (2019), which provides a glimpse of climate solutions happening from York to Jackman, Maine. Her upcoming film (fall 2021) will feature youth climate justice activist storytellers from every Maine county. Andy is a coalition builder and seeks out youth to mentor and organize with. Her goal is to build a diverse coalition of organizations, businesses, Indigenous leaders, youth leaders, civic leaders, legislators, and dedicated individuals to take action. Andy Burt is a tireless advocate for the greater good and for the state of Maine.
Leslie Clapp of Blue Hill
Nominated by Bernice Bartlett DeBlois
Leslie Clapp is an advocate for the protection of habitat for birds and other wildlife. Her volunteer work includes serving as president of Downeast Audubon, work she has dedicated her life to for nearly two decades. During this time Leslie has helped create important environmental education opportunities for local school children. Her own yard serves as natural breeding, sheltering, and wintering habitat for birds and other creatures, and she has given numerous workshops and tours for the community on landscaping for wildlife. Leslie spearheaded the establishment of a “Bluebird Trail,” more than 370 bluebird boxes in Hancock County that have been placed, cared for and monitored by volunteers, with the majority trained and organized by Leslie. Encompassing 10 acres, her home gardens, fields, woods, and pond are not only beautiful, but are also managed as prime wildlife habitat. Bird feeders, shelter such as brush piles—both casual and structured, water features, and natural food sources for both birds and pollinators—abound. Leslie is one of the main “go-to” people for information on nature and wildlife on the Blue Hill Peninsula. On any given day you might find her working on wildlife-related projects, propagating native plants for pollinators, monitoring bird boxes, or even rescuing an injured Great Horned Owl and transporting it to a rehabber who will help it. Leslie is an inspiration for aspiring naturalists and those who want to garden for birds and pollinators! She sets an example for us all.
Heather McCargo of Portland
Nominated by Paulette Oboyski
Heather founded the Wild Seed Project in 2014. According to the Project’s website, their mission is “to inspire people to take action and join us in increasing the presence of native plants grown from wild seeds.” Invasive plants cause problems for native plants and many of the wildlife that rely on them. They can also cause problems to working forests and farms. Nonnative plants often outcompete Maine’s native species. Along with founding the Wild Seed Project, Heather served as its executive director until earlier this year. Currently, she is focused on work to expand the Wild Seed Project’s native seed collection. A 2021 Portland Press Herald article about Heather, who received a Source Sustainability Award for her work, reads, “Wild Seed Project collects and sells seeds of 75 wild native plants, educates Mainers about the ecological importance of native plants through events and an annual magazine called Wild Seed, and gives them the tools to help restore the biodiversity of the Maine landscape. In 2020, the organization sold about 12,000 seed packets, a 100 percent increase over 2019. More than 500 people have taken the ‘Pledge to Rewild,’ an oath fondly inspired by McCargo’s childhood memory of taking a pledge not to be a litterbug.” In her nomination of Heather for the 2021 NRCM People’s Choice Awards, Paulette writes, “This is a great project for all Mainers!“
Elizabeth McLellan of Portland
Nominated by Paul Golding
When working as a Nurse Administrator in a trauma center in Saudi Arabia, Elizabeth McLellan, RN, MSN, MPH, had the opportunity to visit a hospital in Pakistan. While there, it was clear that this hospital lacked even basic supplies such as linens, gauze, gloves, bandages, and tape. As Elizabeth stood there in the middle of what could only be considered chaos, she thought, “Someday, when I go home, I'm going to do something about this." In 2007, she did. She began gathering discarded supplies from the Maine hospital where she worked and positioned collection boxes in different departments, educating nurses and housekeeping staff to save medical supplies located in rooms of patients who were discharged. Once a patient is discharged from a room, all supplies left behind go to the trash. Partners for World Health (PWH) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) based in Portland that collects medical supplies and equipment from healthcare facilities, manufacturers, other organizations, and individuals. One benefit of PWH’s work is that it limits the impact on the environment by diverting materials from landfills. PWH is the only New England-based nonprofit organization that collects, repackages, and distributes medical supplies to those in need. It is estimated that $10 billion is spent in disposal fees amongst hospitals across the U.S, discarding of more than 5 million tons of supplies, equipment, and trash. Since 2009, PWH has collected more than 2.5 million pounds of medical supplies that would have otherwise been destined for local landfills, saving more than 262,603 pounds in 2020 alone. Despite the success and growth of the organization Elizabeth still serves as the President and Founder while taking no salary and leads an organization that relies on volunteers to carry out 98% of its work while still remaining a volunteer herself.
Sam Saltonstall of Brunswick
Nominated by Andy Meyer
Sam has been a tireless advocate for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation for almost two decades. He has served on the board of Maine Interfaith Power & Light and currently serves as Board President of WindowDressers, a nonprofit that has built more than 42,000 insulating window inserts with volunteers in Maine and Vermont. Sam is a former resident of Peaks Island, where he tested the wind for a year with a University of Maine meteorological tower, helped organize the weatherization of 108 island homes, and organized collective purchases of 65 discounted heat pumps and 1,100 LED bulbs for his neighbors. Sam volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby and has traveled to Washington, DC, three times to lobby members of Congress on climate. He's an active member of the Neighborhood UCC Church in Bath and has led the church's effort to tighten up its building, install a heat pump, and raise the money for rooftop solar. Last winter, he helped organize a six-part Zoom series called Bath Cares for Its Climate Future, part of the church's effort to serve as a resource for others in the community who would like to reduce their fossil fuel use. Over the past year he led a successful effort to get the Bath Land Use Code changed so that appropriately designed solar installations visible from the street can be installed in the Historic District. Sam was a founding member of Green Steps, a group of residents living in the Highland Green retirement community in Topsham that promotes environmental stewardship. He makes his home now in Brunswick.
Past People's Choice Award winners include:
2020: Eric Sherman, of Greenville, for incredible work to on the No CMP Corridor campaign ranging from gathering petition signatures to delivering signs to fundraising and keeping others informed, and for his dedication and hard work for the greater good of Maine's North Woods
2019: Sandi Howard, of Caratunk, for her dedication to administering the Say NO to NECEC Facebook group and organizing one of the groups of intervenors in the CMP corridor proceedings at the Department of Environmental Protection and the Land Use Planning Commission
2018: Robin Robinson, of Brunswick, for creating a flourishing online educational community of people who share photos and information about all aspects of Maine’s wild birds, including threats to their habitats and opportunities to make a difference
2017: Addie Farmer and Lainey Randall, of Portland, for their work keeping plastics and other pollution out of Casco Bay. Read a blog post, written by Lainey and Addie, about their work.
2016: The Larouche family, of Old Town, for the family’s commitment to wildlife protection and habitat conservation as well as environmental education for children and adults through the Hirundo Wildlife Refuge.
2015: Bonnie Pooley of Bethel, for her outstanding success in engaging young people in the work of protecting Maine’s environment.
2014: Robert Godfrey of Eastport, for his perseverance in protecting the beauty and heritage of Down East Maine by leading the grassroots organization, Save Passamaquoddy Bay.
2013: Thanks But No Tank of Searsport, for exceptional efforts mobilizing and engaging citizens to protect Searsport and surrounding coastal communities from potential harm posed by a proposed LPG tank and terminal.
2012: Bob Iles of Bethel, for exceptional efforts preserving the summit of and maintaining trails on Whitecap Mountain in Rumford, and for continued work to obtain public access to area lands and waterways as a member of the board of the Mahoosuc Land Trust.
2011: Belfast Co-housing and Ecovillage, for exceptional efforts and tireless work to establish a model environmentally sustainable, affordable, multi-generational cohousing community.
2010: Vera Francis of Perry, for serving as a leader in a true citizens’ movement in her efforts to protect Passamaquoddy Bay from a proposed LNG terminal.
2009: Evelyn Dunphy of West Bath, for her exceptional efforts in protecting Katahdin Lake from development.
2008: Willy Ritch of Woolwich, for exceptional leadership in mobilizing the citizens of Wiscasset to defeat plans for a coal gasification facility in their town.
2007: Maggie Shannon of Belgrade Lakes, for her dedication to the work of the Congress of Lake Associations and the inspiration she provides to others
2006: Eric Brown of Waterville, for starting Gang Green, an environmentally focused group of teachers and students at Lawrence High School. Note: Eric was the winner of our first annual People’s Choice Award.