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Student “Smart Forest” watershed research project awarded $25k grant from Poland Spring

25k Poland Spring gift to USM Environmental Studies program

The University of Southern Maine’s Environmental Science and Policy department was recently awarded a $25,000 grant from Poland Spring which will help fund internships and assistantships for ESP students working on an upland watershed monitoring project.

Malacara_Wiley_Smart_ForestLocated within the Tannery Brook Watershed/USM “Smart Forest” on the USM Gorham campus, the project entails building a network of environmental sensors that will be located throughout the watershed/forest. The sensors will provide researchers with better insight regarding the impacts of climate change and land use on small forests and mini watersheds. Data collected at the site can be remotely accessed by the public, including educators, researchers and interested “citizen scientists.”

“All of the fieldwork needed to develop and maintain the environmental sensor network will be done by our ESP students,” said Robert Sanford, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. “Poland Spring has stepped up as an important partner in this venture, enabling us to make paid watershed assistantships available to our students, who benefit from both financial support and valuable workforce experience.”

“USM is dedicated to working with the community to address real-world problems while imbuing our students with technical workforce skills,” said Jeremy Qualls, dean of the College of Science, Technology and Health at USM. “Poland Spring's gift is very impactful. It helps us get students engaged in the field and widens the pathway to STEM jobs here in Maine.”

Heather Printup, Community Relations Manager for Poland Spring stated in a press release, "At Nestlé Waters [Nestlé Waters North America, through its Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water], we are committed to the sustainability of our natural resources and the environment, both in our own operations and the communities where we live and work. Our ‘Good Neighbor Grants’ are awarded to projects with a focus on education, environmental conservation and other endeavors that help improve the future of Maine. We can’t think of a more appropriate recipient than USM’s Environmental Science and Policy program.”

Ainsley Wallace, president and CEO of the USM Foundation, said, “This investment by Poland Spring recognizes USM’s central role and commitment to growing Maine’s skilled and educated workforce. We are very grateful for this generous gift and the opportunities it affords our undergraduates.”