Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I never imagined I would be traveling as far away as Maine for my college education. My parents joke that I was trying to move as far away as I could, but moving to Maine felt like a natural decision after I visited for the first time in the spring of 2014. After flying into Portland and seeing the coast of Maine for the first time I knew I was in a very special place.

After I went on a tour of Colby College, my mom and I decided to explore the area a little and found ourselves walking along a street situated between two beautiful lakes — Great Pond and Long Pond. Walking down Main Street in Belgrade as a senior in high school on my first visit to Maine, I felt very welcomed and at home, making my decision to later attend Colby not very difficult. Little did I know that I would later spend two summers with the 7 Lakes Alliance at the Maine Lakes Resource Center on this very street.

At Colby I study biology and environmental science with a concentration in conservation biology. Throughout college I have had nothing but positive experiences in the classroom and with my professors. Classes such as biology, chemistry, vertebrate natural history, and natural resource economics have filled my schedule during each semester.

Much of my time has been spent in lab classes that have provided a chance to engage with the environment and learn more about the surrounding area. Yet, as engaged as I was in all my classes, a feeling of separation still remained. I came to Colby because of the great opportunities offered as well as to engage with the surrounding community. This is why, when I had the opportunity to work hands on with water quality at the 7 Lakes Alliance, I was ecstatic to get involved.

I began working at the 7 Lakes Alliance as a community engagement and water quality intern the summer before my junior year. I engaged with the lakes and community in a whole new way. Like many people, I do not live on a lake nor have I ever lived in an area with lakefront access. However, as I came to work each day I was reminded of the feeling that drove me to come to Colby in the first place.

A sense of belonging is developed when one feels they are a part of a community. As a biology and environmental science student, this opportunity to partner with the 7 Lakes Alliance piqued my interest as a chance to gain a better understanding of the conditions of the Belgrade Lakes and a chance to learn more about limnology — the study of lakes. However, the more time I spent at the 7 Lakes Alliance, the more I realized how the community drives positive change in the area.

Through my daily interactions with visitors to the MLRC and introducing guest speakers at our evening lectures, I was able to speak with just about everyone who walked through the doors of the center. From them I learned more about the history and people of this area than I ever could have anywhere else. From locals who have lived here for generations, to people who come every summer, to first-time visitors I found a commonality between them all — whether they lived on one of the lakes or just enjoyed seeing them from one of the hiking trails in the Kennebec Highlands, there is a desire to conserve our lakes and land and to improve the health of the ecosystem.

These lakes play a critical role in our everyday lives, whether we live in a lakefront property or not. The lakes in the Belgrade watershed and the surrounding land provide critical habitat for many native species in Maine that maintain a balanced and healthy ecosystem. The community’s ability to hold stewardship and conservation as high priorities is something very unique and special that is found in the Belgrade Lakes region.

My work at the 7 Lakes Alliance has been a defining experience during my time at Colby that has inspired my interests, values, and goals for the future.

Amy Andreini wrote this on behalf of the Lake Trust, which represents The 7 Lakes Alliance of the Belgrade Lakes.


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