For Camille Wasinger ’15, making Maine a better place to live is all in a day’s work. Wasinger is interning for Maine Conservation Voters with the support of a Bowdoin’s Community Matters in Maine/Psi Upsilon Fellowship.
MCV works in connection with Maine Conservation Alliance (MCA) to support environmental protection in Maine. MCV has the “political teeth” of the two organizations, as Wasinger said in a recent interview, because they focus on policy and campaign strategy. MCA is one of the 28 nonprofit members of Maine’s Environmental Priorities Coalition, which identifies the most crucial approaching environmental bills to pass or veto.
Here’s what a typical day is like for Wasinger:
7:15 a.m.: Wasinger wakes up, gets dressed and eats breakfast.
8:15 a.m.: Wasinger carpools to Augusta, Maine’s capital city, with Tom Gawarkiewicz ‘15. Gawarkiewicz, an intern with the Maine Center for Economic Policy, is also supported by a Community Matters in Maine Fellowship.
9:00 a.m.: Wasinger arrives at work. She meets with one of her three main supervisors, Gianna Short, who gives her a few tasks to start her day. The tasks might include writing a statement for the MCV website or preparing documents for the “scorecard” MCV makes for Maine legislators, which gives them a percentage based on their prior history with environmentally friendly bills.
9:30 a.m.: The office broadcasts house legislation in the background. If an environmentally relevant bill comes up for discussion, everyone stops what they’re doing to listen.
10:30 a.m.: Meanwhile, Wasinger prepares posts for publication on MCV’s Facebook and Twitter pages, to be deployed periodically throughout the day. She posts links to environmentally related news and events, as well as pictures captioned to reflect MCV’s mission: making the “protection of Maine’s environment a political priority.”
12:00 p.m.: Wasinger takes her lunch break sitting by the Kennebec River. While the view is pretty, “Augusta is a little bit like a ghost town,” she says. Even while working downtown, it’s rare for Wasinger to see more than one or two people pass by at a time.
1:00 p.m.: Wasinger spends part of most days passing out petitions in front of the Maine State House. Most recently, Maine became the second state after Connecticut to pass a GMO bill, which will require food manufacturers to notify consumers on their packaging of any genetically modified ingredients. The bill will now go to republican Governor Paul LePage to sign. MCV currently has a petition encouraging LePage to sign the GMO bill.
3:00 p.m.: Wasinger spends the afternoon drafting and sending materials to the MCV/MCA member database, encouraging people to support various bills by signing petitions or emailing their legislator to advocate the passage of a particular bill.
5:00 p.m.: Wasinger heads home to Brunswick Apartments to go for a run, make dinner and maybe watch an episode of Game of Thrones (“it’s a really unhealthy obsession,” she says). As an environmental studies and government major, Wasinger thought environmental policy might be a career she wanted to explore. This experience has “definitely cemented” her interest. She may pursue environmental policy on a larger scale in Washington, D.C. after college. Eight hours is a long day, but as Wasinger says, “I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I like it.”