Grace Hodge ’13 says if you’re aware of environmental issues, it’s hard not to feel a sense of responsibility to take some action. Which is exactly what she’s committed to doing.
Hodge is one of several Bowdoin students this summer who received a Community Matters in Maine Psi Upsilon Fellowship through the McKeen Center for the Common Good and Environmental Studies department. The fellowship program provides several students with a $4,000 stipend for a 10-week summer internship and places them with local agencies, organizations, and businesses focusing on the transition to a more sustainable society. Hodge, an environmental studies and history major, is planning a career in the environmental field after she graduates next year, whether it’s doing advocacy work, consulting, or working for a nonprofit.
Hodge is interning for 10 weeks with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust, based in Brunswick, which not only manages conserved wild areas, but also oversees working farmland. “It incorporates a lot of my interests,” she says, “nonprofits, the local community, environmental work, organic agriculture, and local farming.” Working on a local level is especially important to her. “You need to be able to show the community the benefit of your work,” she said.
Bowdoin Daily Sun: What made you initially interested in pursuing a fellowship with the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust?
Grace Hodge ’13: I was initially interested in pursuing a fellowship with BTLT because I am passionate about the environment and I hope to work in the environmental field after I graduate. A fellowship with BTLT provides me with the opportunity to learn how an effective, non-profit environmental organization functions, and particularly all the hard work that is put into being a land trust. I hope that the fellowship also gives me a sense of where I can focus my passion and the opportunity to learn important skills. In addition, the BTLT incorporated many of the areas that I am particularly interested in such as community involvement, organic agriculture, and conservation.
BDS: And why do you want to get involved in the local community?
GH: I want to get involved in the local community because I have come to love Brunswick over the past three years that I have been here and I wanted to give back to the community. I also believe that an important component of environmental action is community involvement because it allows everyone to see the benefits of environmental protection.
BDS: What’s drives your interest in organic farming?
GH: I first became interested in organic farming when I read Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollen in high school. I think that organic farming is so interesting because we are so intimately linked to food, we are what we eat. I find the idea that we eat food that is industrialized and not natural in a sense to be frightening and intriguing. I am also passionate about organic farming because I believe that more so than other areas such as climate change, it is an area where consumers can have a lot of power. We can control what we eat and grocery stores can control what they sell. The demand for organic food has grown and I think the more people became aware of the benefits of organic food not only for their health but also for the environment, they could change what is bought by the grocery store and therefore what is grown. Agriculture contributes greatly to many of the environmental problems that we face today, but many of which could be greatly improved if we moved to more sustainable and healthier farming techniques.
BDS: What are your goals for the summer? What do you hope to be able to walk away with after you’re done?
GH: My goals for the summer are to be as helpful as possible to BTLT and to learn as much as possible. I hope this internship provides me with more clarity in which area of the environmental filed I would like to work in after I graduate.