2019 NRCM People’s Choice Award
We want to thank all of you who nominated someone for this year’s NRCM’s People’s Choice Award. We received more than 40 nominations, and narrowing the list down to this year’s five finalists was not easy. We want to thank all of the nominees for their dedication and hard work to protect Maine’s air, land, water, and wildlife. You all are doing such great things to keep Maine special.
Below is the list of the 2019 People’s Choice Award finalists. The award will be presented, and all finalists will be recognized, at this year’s Conservation Leadership Awards event on Wednesday, October 16.
2019 People’s Choice Award Finalists (alphabetical order):
Donald Cote, Vassalboro
Nominated by Jayne Winters
Donald and his late wife Carleen established the “Duck Pond Wildlife Care Center” at their home in 1998, though Donald has been caring for abandoned and injured wildlife for the last 50 years. Now known as simply “The Wildlife Care Center,” it is a nonprofit organization that cares for non-domestic injured animals for healthy release back into the wild.
Sadly, Carleen passed away in April 2018, but Don and a small volunteer staff continue their devoted commitment in the loving care of birds, turtles, raccoons, and other mammals.
The Wildlife Care Center is a federally permitted rescue and care facility, but it receives no federal funding; it operates through donations to provide the medical care and food needed to help heal these animals so they can be returned to their natural habitat.
The Cotes’ dedication and 20+ years of truly making a difference should be recognized.
Read this recent Portland Press Herald story about a rescued fawn that was put in Donald’s care in June.
Sandi Howard, Caratunk
Nominated by Edwin Buzzell, Denise D’Amboise, Mandy Farrar, Rene Guay, Duane & Sally Hanson, David Hedrick, Kerry Hegarty, Charles Hopkins, Carol Howard, Alyssa Howe, Kaleb Jacob, Linda Lee, Monica McCarthy, Eric Sherman, Nancy Sosman, Susan Theberge, Darryl Wood, and Linda Woods
Sandi Howard is the administrator of the Say NO to NECEC Facebook group and organizer of the Group 10 Intervenors in the state DEP and LUPC proceedings on the CMP corridor. “She is brilliant, tireless, and continues to work toward defeating the NECEC corridor. She doesn’t seem to take a minute off. She posts information, articles, and directions on the FB page several times daily. She has helped literally thousands of people become enlightened on the true nature of the NECEC.”
“Sandi has grown a grassroots group to more than 7,000 Mainers in an attempt to educate the public and protect the Western Maine Mountains from environmental damage from the prospect of a grid corridor running from Quebec to Massachusetts. She is a College music professor, a whitewater rafter, and a tireless advocate for Maine’s unparalleled beauty and clean air and water. She is a genuine woman warrior who inspires all of us with her clear head and sense of fair play and truth, and her grasp of the facts and the players, in and out of government. Her gift is beyond the truth of what she’s fighting for…for she has managed to create a cohesive group of people, from all walks of life and education, with varying and often incompatible political views, who are all fighting for the same thing. For Maine, its people, the beauty of our state and for fair play in government.”
“Sandra Howard has dedicated countless hours to researching and getting the facts out, organizing concerned citizens, creating and moderating their social media forum, liaising with the media and NGOs, speaking with the media and NGOs and organizing and preparing others to do so, fundraising via online auctions, t-shirt sales and events, creating a nonprofit entity, hiring and working with the organization’s attorney, and preparing for and attending countless public meetings and hearings. She has served without complaint in all of the above capacities despite having a full-time job, she has been the credible face of the NECEC opposition to the media and other organizations, and has led with integrity.”
Don Miskill, Orrs Island
Nominated by Leslie Zales
Don Miskill, a Navy veteran, is an avid volunteer for the Town of Harpswell. He is tireless in his effort to maintain trails for Harpswell Heritage Land Trust, the Town of Harpswell, and Harpswell Recreation. Don performs basic chainsaw training to increase safety and volunteerism in trail management. He promotes National Trails Day every June.
Don is instrumental in organizing the Annual Harpswell Hiking Challenge by promoting the event, clearing and marking trails, setting up stations, etc.
More importantly, Don volunteers his time on several town committees to make environmentally sound recommendations to the Board of Selectman. He is on the Town Rec Committee, Budget Advisory Committee, and Mitchell Field Committee.
He has been a vital member of the redevelopment of Mitchell Field, paying mind to the marine and land ecosystems as well as economic development. From the Portland Press Herald, July 25, 2019: “’The solar array would be built in the upper meadow amphitheater at Mitchell Field, where the 10- to 12-foot tall panels would not block the view of the waterfront,’ according to Don Miskill, the Mitchell Field steward. ‘We’ve proposed to have the solar field (on the upper meadow) and we’ve kept the bird-watchers in mind,’ Miskill said. ‘The field is below the level that you’re driving at, so it would not take away from the scenery.’”
Sandy and Wynn Muller, Wilton
Nominated by Rob Lively and Nancy Prince
Ever since they arrived in Wilton in 1987, the Mullers have been a dynamic duo in promoting the health of Wilson Lake and Maine lakes in general. Through the decades, they have devoted their talents, time, and appreciation of science to building community awareness (and taking action!) to protect Maine lakes. They supported efforts to bring attention to the value of loons in Wilson Lake with an educational endeavor after two unfortunate events resulting in loon deaths. They worked with others to establish a loons and lakes program for third graders. At first Maine Audubon provided the course; later, Biodiversity Research Institute biologists produced an interactive project that has encouraged students to share the importance of caring about loons, removing lead from tackle boxes, and keeping the lake healthy for loons. They also helped develop/install a research buoy in the middle of Wilson Lake that measures temperature and dissolved oxygen year round.
The Mullers have spearheaded and collaborated with many valuable projects such as Courtesy Boat Inspections, Lake Smart programs (they are both certified Lake Stewards), Maine Lake Society committees, and many more effective ways to protect our lakes and their wildlife.
Wynn and Sandy’s combination of persistence, personality, and persuasion in recruiting landowners brought Wilson Lake Gold LakeSmart status in 2009 (15% of lakeshore properties certified—and that percentage keeps increasing). On Wilson Lake, the Mullers’ pontoon boat serves regularly as both a research vessel and an ambassadorial cruise ship. They invite others for the biweekly water testing during the summer and are frequent tour guides on the lake for a variety of groups or other visitors (Red Hat Ladies, Chamber of Commerce members, Senior College at UMF-Goldleaf, and others). A Muller pontoon trip always includes commentary on the lake wildlife and aspects of lakeshore management.
Their leadership at the local and state level, their encouragement of other organizations and individuals, and their continued emphasis on learning more and doing better make them models of commitment for protecting and preserving our lakes for the future.
Sally Trice, Portland
Nominated by Mark Gill
Sally is the 80-year-old woman behind Portland’s fight to ban plastic shopping bags and polystyrene foam containers. Sally grew up on a working farm and developed a lifelong respect for protecting the earth. In 2009, her first grandchild was born, heightening her awareness of how endangered his future world would be unless measures were taken to reduce waste and protect the environment.
First battle: restaurant foam food containers and supermarket plastic bags. In 2013, Sally became a founding member of the City of Portland’s Green Packaging Working Group, who led the charge to ban polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) containers and single-use plastic bags. There was intense pressure and lobbying against change from the Maine Restaurant Association, the Maine Grocers Association, the Retail Association of Maine, and the American Chemistry Council, yet Sally stood firm.
From the minutes of the April 8, 2013 meeting of the task force: “Sally Trice of Portland [after objections from industry lobbyists to a potential ban] reminded everyone to stand back and look at the bigger picture rather than the bottom line. She noted the sea of plastic in the Pacific Ocean and the effects polystyrene has on marine animals, regardless of their location. She asked the task force to accept some accountability for the environment.” Finally, on April 15, 2014, the polystyrene ban was approved by the Portland City Council. The ban on plastic bags was defeated in favor of a 5¢ fee per bag — a compromise that Sally continued to oppose.
These days, Sally is active in efforts to ban pesticides, to protect bees, and to remove fluoride from Portland’s drinking water. Sally is a longtime member of the Natural Resources Council of Maine and a variety of other environmental groups, including the USM Elders for Future Generations. She enjoys organic gardening with her grandson, now 10. But, if there’s a fight to be had to improve our environment… call Sally. She’s ready to join the fight.
The nominations do not represent endorsement by NRCM of any particular environmental position, strategy, or viewpoint.