HALLOWELL — City officials are working to temporarily bring in an environmental steward who would work on a broad range of activities, from land management and trail building to community engagement and educational programming.

Councilor Ryan Martin proposed the position during the last budget hearing in August, leading to a $15,500 appropriation in the annual municipal budget.

The position is somewhat unconventional in that it is to be facilitated by the Maine Conservation Corps, through its practical education program that places young stewards with either municipalities or nonprofit organizations to carry out conservation-related activities.

The Maine Conservation Corps is an AmeriCorps program that focuses on using volunteers and partners to assist with land conservation projects and conservation education. It is overseen by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry.

“Someone once described (the program) as: ‘I build trails and I work with people,’ and then someone, during a conference, described it as: ‘I build people and I work on trails,’” said Deidrah Stanchfield, Maine’s environmental steward program manager.

She noted that most stewards are between 18 and 24 years old, and 60% of them come from outside of Maine.


“Maine is a beautiful place for conservation work,” Stanchfield said.

According to Stanchfield, there are 12 available slots statewide for stewards who would work 1,700 hours and 20 slots for stewards who would work 900 hours.

If approved by the Maine Conservation Corps, the Hallowell steward would be one of the longer-term positions, working about 40 hours a week from January to November.

The $15,500 in city funds, paid directly to the Maine Conservation Corps, would be utilized for the steward’s training, gear and wages, which amounts to about $9 an hour. With minimal tax impact, the position provides an economical addition to the city workforce.

“”It’s a win-win situation, not just a good deal for Hallowell taxpayers, but also a great opportunity for stewards, who are typically young professionals,” Martin said. “For the stewards, it’s an excellent chance to gain valuable experience and establish themselves in their profession.”

The steward’s responsibilities would include assisting in land conservation efforts; developing and maintaining trails; adding items, such as benches and signs; and developing and implementing educational programs to teach residents about conservation practices.


“We don’t necessarily hire the person. We host them,” Martin said. “It is a one-time, temporary position, paid for by the money we appropriated through the TIF (tax increment financing) funds. Therefore, it is of tremendous value to the taxpayers.”

Officials are in the preliminary stages of submitting their proposals to the Maine Conservation Corps and hope to finish the application by October. The proposals the Maine Conservation Corps approves are then presented to the applicants, who can pick their top three preferable locations to work. Communities and organizations can then begin the interview process.

The Hallowell steward would be supervised by the City Manager Gary Lamb and work collaboratively with other departments and stakeholders invested in land conservation and recreation in Hallowell.

While the city is not required to provide housing to the steward, having that as part of the proposal is expected to encourage more applicants and prompt a competitive screening process.

“They have to assimilate themselves with the community and it takes time, but we are hoping to help and provide housing options,” Martin said. “If anyone would be interested in having an extra pair of hands around and host the steward in their homes, they should definitely let us know.”

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