First Interns Experience a Sense of Community and Civic Engagement

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Involving youth in our work is key to realizing our bold vision and two MDI high school students pioneered a new ACTT Internship program this summer.  According to the students, the highlights of this internship were unexpected - both agreed that we felt a sense of community and civic engagement that we hadn’t encountered before in school. Each led a unique project and both helped expand our lighting efficiency project. Under the guidance of Lyn Gatz, a high school teacher and mentor for the project, Ellie and Emily distributed over 1,000 LED bulbs to mostly lower income residents through the Eden Baptist, Tremont Congregational, and Bar Harbor Congregational churches, as well as Meals on Wheels, and the Bar Harbor Food Pantry. 

Both interns held 1:1 conversations with local residents about their thoughts on climate change and it was was most rewarding to hear the older generation’s support for what the interns were doing. With a grant from the Fisher Charitable Foundation, we plan to expand the program to four internships next summer. 

Ellie Bridgers (left), now a senior says the internship "pushed me to go outside my comfort zone and practice communication skills." She gained a greater sense of responsibility having had to rely on self-motivation for the quality of her work. Ellie surveyed 30 MDI restaurants about composting food waste. Although only 25% of respondents do compost, she learned about the many obstacles restaurants face as there is no good system for collecting food waste on MDI. Portland's Garbage to Gardens is seeking an entrepreneur on MDI to franchise their successful curbside pick up program. Click here to see Ellie's informative LED Lighting Fact Sheet.

Emily McCarthy (right), who is now attending Acadia University in Nova Scotia majoring in Nutrition with a minor in Environmental Science, focused on the impact of our food choices on the environment and climate change. Click here to view Emily's colorful infographic What is the Carbon Footprint of Your Food Choices?  Emily’s highlight was interacting with community members and getting as many people educated and LED bulbs into the hands of community members in such a short amount of time.