2018 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 30 nominations, and narrowing the list down to this year’s six 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 2018 People’s Choice Award finalists. This year’s winner was Robin Robinson of Brunswick, Maine.
2018 People’s Choice Award Finalists (alphabetical order):
Peter Garrett, Winslow
Nominated by Jean Ann Pollard
Peter’s work encompasses many aspects of protecting Maine’s environment. He helped to create the Kennebec Messalonskee trails in the Waterville area, which now include more than 40 miles of trails. He advocates for pedestrian and bicycle access around the state, too. Peter also has served as a board member of the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, which awards thousands of dollars in grants for wildlife and trails projects. Peter is a volunteer with Sustain MidMaine’s energy team, initiating local interest in their WindowDressers campaign to make interior storm windows that seal out drafts and aid in window insulation, leading workshops for homeowners to make the inserts in Vassalboro, Waterville and Fairfield. Peter became involved with climate change adaptability in 2012, serving as representative of the Maine Water Utilities Association on the Governor’s Commission on Climate Change. He testifies on climate change legislation at the state level, and he has made several trips to Washington, DC, to present petitions and letters to Maine’s Congressional delegation as the area’s leader for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He is now the state coordinator of CCL for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
Nancy Hathaway, Surry
Nominated by Paula Blumenthal, Carol Gregor, Lea Girardin, and Herb Hartman
“Nancy has been an indefatigable and successful advocate for dark skies at the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, surrounding communities, and her own community of Surry.” She began Stars over Surry about five years ago as Chair of Surry Conservation Commission and now partners with Blue Hill Heritage Trust on this effort. Nancy also wrote, presented, and helped to pass a lighting ordinance for the town of Surry. Nancy partnered with the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, Acadia National Park, and Elliotsville Plantation to start Stars over Katahdin five years ago and also led dark skies workshops for town officials in Staceyville, Patten, Millinocket, Sherman, and East Millinocket. (KWW was willing and has done a great job supporting this effort along with Elliotsville Plantation, Inc.) She encouraged Katahdin Woods and Waters to apply to become an International Dark Sky Association designation. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is now in the process of applying for the designation of Dark Sky Sanctuary to save our night sky. She serves as a board member of the Maine Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail, where she also advocates for Dark Sky. Nancy is passionate about preserving what so many of us in Maine treasure – the vast starry skies of the North Woods and Downeast Maine — the largest area of dark sky east of the Mississippi River.
Phoebe MacDonald, Portland
Nominated by Jon Hinck
Phoebe has been an eloquent and dedicated advocate for curtailing the use of single-use disposable plastic in order to protect marine life. On September 14, 2017, Phoebe attended a screening of “Plastic Ocean” at the Portland Art Museum and started appealing to grownups to take action on this environmental challenge right then during the question and answer period at the screening and in the months since. Phoebe is a member of the Green Club at Ocean Avenue Elementary School, and she is also involved with Terra Matters, a new environmental grassroots movement that unites students and environmental organizations across the state with one common goal: to make an impact on climate change locally and empower others to do the same. She also recently spoke in front of the Portland City Council and persuaded them to ban plastic straws at the City Hall Café in Portland. All of this, and she is just entering the third grade! Learn more about Phoebe in this YouTube video. As Phoebe says, “It doesn’t matter how young you are (to speak out about what you believe in) from as small as kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade.”
Robin Robinson, Brunswick
Nominated by David Robinson and Richard McWilliams
Robin started and manages a Facebook group called MAINE Birds. It is an educational forum about wild birds in Maine. The membership is currently more than 18,000 people, and the group focuses on educating members about wild birds. This includes species identification, reporting of rare birds, habitat preservation, protection of the birds when in peril, support for rehabilitation centers in Maine, legislative efforts to protect Maine wildlife, dangers to birds of domestic cats out of doors, and retaining dogs on leads on beaches during migration and nesting. This group also shares information about the reduction of single-use plastic use, clean and healthy food sources, and many other educational issues. Robin is the primary administrator. She manages the page and keeps the climate friendly and education-based, volunteering her time every day to this end. This is an extraordinary resource for Maine birders, bird photographers, and those who care about birds and protection of their habitat.
Mary Ryan, Wilton
Nominated by Nancy Prince and Holly Windle
Mary is a founding member of Friends of Wilson Lake (FOWL) serving on its board of directors since 1990 and has been involved with the lake’s summer invasive plant program. She volunteered with two watershed surveys, in 1994 and again in 2016. Mary has measured Wilson Lake’s water clarity every summer for 30 years from her cottage on the lake using a secci disk. Her camp on Wilson Lake was one of the first to be listed as a Lake Smart property as well. Lake Smart is a conservation program that recognizes owners who work to protect the lake. In 1998 she helped create the land trust, Foothills Land Conservancy, formed to protect and preserve 238 acres of land and wetlands. She assisted with successful fundraising efforts to purchase the property adjacent to Wilson Lake. That land is now open for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Mary has paddled the stream that flows into the lake and skied the trails on the headwaters land, always ready to share with others the mission of preserving and protecting wildlife habitat and marsh grasses that filter the flow of water into Wilson Lake.
Steve Weems, Brunswick
Nominated by Todd Griset
“Steve is an amazing advocate for improvement of Maine’s environment and social condition. He volunteers tireless as the unpaid executive director of the Solar Energy Association of Maine, a grassroots nonprofit that seeks to convene Maine solar supporters for advocacy and changemaking.” Despite several years of repeated disappointment at the State House, Steve continues to advance solar’s cause and work to eliminate Maine’s dependency on fossil fuels. In past years, Steve worked on the committee that helped in the transition of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station into a useful commercial and community space, keeping environmental issues at the forefront of that effort. Steve also helped to create a community solar project at Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick that was hooked to the grid in the fall of 2016, and he served at one time in the NRCM Board of Directors. Beyond SEAM, Steve seems to dedicate his full time and efforts to progressive environmental, social, and cultural causes in Maine—a true philanthropist freely donating his time, brilliant mind, and tireless efforts.
The nominations do not represent endorsement by NRCM of any particular environmental position, strategy, or viewpoint.