Although gathering in the Augusta Civic Center is not an option for this year’s Maine Sustainability & Water Conference, the event will go on as a virtual gathering to be held Wednesday and Thursday, March 31 and April 1.

Penobscot Nation Tribal Ambassador Maulian Dana will deliver the keynote address, “Connection, Not Ownership: The Sacred Relationship Between the Penobscot Nation and Ancestral Territory.” She will talk about her experiences growing up on Indian Island and events and teachings that have shaped her cultural values and influence her leadership.

A strong sense of place and ties to her homeland, as well as Indigenous knowledge, guide her work.

The conference will feature 11 concurrent sessions to be held both days, with presentations and discussions focused on such topics as PFAS (an abbreviation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), eliminating arsenic exposure, a blueprint for 100% renewable energy, migratory fish passage, the effects of climate change on Maine lakes, and Maine’s climate action plan.

A poster competition where some of Maine’s most innovative high school, undergraduate and graduate students present their research will also be held. Poster topics include invasive species management, microplastics in the Penobscot River, combatting heavy metals in drinking water, coastal water quality management, climate change and lake ice-out dates, and SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance.

The conference, organized by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine, provides a forum for researchers, citizens, students, policymakers and municipal representatives to exchange information and present new findings on sustainability and water resource issues in Maine, attracting a broad audience of close to 400 participants from across the state.

“As we continue to weather the viral storm, this conference provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about and celebrate many inspiring efforts to create a brighter environmental, social and economic future in Maine,” said David Hart, Mitchell Center director, according to a news release from UMaine News based in Orono. “By mixing science with passion and collaboration with resolve, the conference serves as an essential gathering place on the road to solutions.”

For more information and to register, visit umaine.edu/mitchellcenter.

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