All posts by mccvoc

Alumni Spotlight: Hans Melhus

We love hearing from our Alumni! For this blog post we are putting a spotlight on MCC Alum Hans Melhus. He was a Crew Member in 2010! Since MCC Hans has worked for Montpelier and VT. Vermont Youth Conservation Corps.

Through mud, sweat, puke, and all the other things we expel; long live the dude crew. Nature! Goulet!

How did serving with MCC affect your personal and professional growth?

Serving with the MCC led me to continue working in the outdoor field and I truly thank you and your staff for that.

What is your favorite memory with MCC?

Meeting on White Cap in the hundred mile wilderness with the other two crews mid-spike was awesome. I loved it.

What was your reasoning for joining the MCC?

My mom recommended it to me. It took me a whole year to apply! What time wasted.

Why should prospective members join?

The experience will change your life. In big or small ways, but regardless will change your life.

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Environmental Steward Andrew Olcott’s Reflection on his Term of Service at Lily Bay State Park

Lily Bay State Park (LBSP) is the kind of place where strangers wave to one another in transit around the park – as a symbol of understanding. We all come here for some of the same reasons.  It’s the kind of place with hidden treasures you might never hear about unless you go looking for them yourself.

LBSP lies on the eastern shores of Moosehead Lake, which I’m told is the largest lake contained in a single state east of the Mississippi River, and it spans about 117 square miles. Communities in these parts of Maine are relatively small. The ways in which we exchange information, communicate, and get to know one another is different than in other places I’ve lived.

The park spans about 925 acres of forest, wetlands, and shoreline. The parcel was donated to the State of Maine by Scott Paper and established in 1961. The forest there has changed quite a bit since the old days, according to the local folklore. Yet some things have remained the same. Clues to the park’s history are all around, veiled by the dense forest the Maine woods are known for. LBSP won the Regional Park of the Year Award in 1995. No one has boasted of this or told me about it. But the banner hangs modestly above the workbench where I sharpen saw chains and maintain tools.

The summer seasonal rush has faded away. The hardwoods are showing their brightest colors, and soon even the tamaracks will turn yellow and drop their needles in anticipation of winter. The days grow shorter, and the nights get colder. As my service term as an Environmental Steward with The Maine Conservation Corps winds down I am wrapping up projects, reflecting on what I’ve gained and contributed, and bracing myself for the transition ahead.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbout Andrew Olcott

Andrew is originally from Upstate NY, and is currently completing his second term of National Service.

Alumni Spotlight: Drew Bidney

We love hearing from our Alumni! For this blog post we are putting a spotlight on MCC Alum Andrew “Drew” Bidney! Drew served in Fall 2006 as a team members and in Summer and Fall 2007 as a team leader! He is now working at Aurora Health Care as a Physical Therapist in Milwaukee, WI.

You will find quiet if you seek silence, you will find action if you seek adventure, you will find friends if you seek relationships and it’s all provided by interacting with mother Earth.

How did serving with MCC affect your personal and professional growth?

I felt after serving with the MCC I was much more free to choose a direction in life and try it out and if it didn’t work, move on to the next. I guess it could be defined as confidence but I like to think of it as experience. The hardship of living in a tent 9 months straight, rain, cold, hard work, teammates/members conflict all allows for an experience beyond the ordinary making what comes next seem like a blessing. It was grounding.

What is your favorite memory with MCC?

I was returning to the MCC as a team leader and my friend Sara Knowles was joining as a team member, I just remember being so excited to see her at the orientation-see the people. Hiking the Presidential Range over the weekend with some crew members-the time off/weekends. Doing a hitch on Marshall Island-the job/locations/knowing Maine.

What was your reasoning for joining the MCC?

I was stuck in a rut, in rural Illinois, wanting to experience something different in life and my best friend in Colorado had been working with youth corps out there. I interviewed a couple positions in Colorado but was too late in the season/hiring for that year and MCC was suggested and was hiring for the fall 2006. First time I ever heard the name Lester Kenway.

Why should prospective members join?

For those that are lost-you will find your “why.” For those who know themselves-this is a selfless act with so many personal gains

 

 

 

Alumni Spotlight: Joe Stolarick

We love hearing from our Alumni! For this blog post we are putting a spotlight on MCC Alum Joe Stolarick! In the fall of 2011, Joe was a trail crew member working on projects with a mini crew in Dover-Foxcroft, Liberty, Lubec, and Bath. Joe is now working as Audio-Visual Production Manager for the New Orleans Jazz Museum! He is also a graduate student at Drexel University (online), where he is pursuing a Masters in Library and Information Science with dual concentrations in Archival Studies and Digital Curation (2018).

In addition to being my most positive experience as an AmeriCorps Member, I consider my time with the MCC to be one of my greatest life experiences that gave me the opportunity to make a real impact while also expanding my skillset and learning a great deal about myself and the larger world around me.

Picture 2Joe and his wife recently took a trip to Maine on their honeymoon and Joe had the opportunity to visit the stone stairs he helped build in Bath, ME during his term of service! 

How did serving with MCC affect your personal and professional growth?

Serving with the MCC taught me a great deal about self-reliance and the importance of taking pride in the quality of my work.  It also helped me to develop a stronger sense of ownership in the environment and in the work I do.  Working for the MCC has given me a lot of confidence in what I can achieve by myself and as part of a team. 

What is your favorite memory with MCC?

I have many great memories with the MCC. The lifestyle of being a Trail Crew Member and living outdoors is so unique that things like grocery shopping and waking up in the morning become fond memories.  Some of my absolute favorites are constructing a mountain bike bridge in Liberty, building a portion of the stone steps at the Thorne Head Preserve in Bath, and hiking Mount Katahdin with fellow Mini Crew team member, Cole Russell. Getting to know my fellow Trail Crew Members, exploring the various communities we worked in, and meeting people who live in the area were also great experiences.

What was your reasoning for joining the MCC?

Overall, I was looking for a challenge.  I had previously served as an AmeriCorps member with the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in Sacramento, CA and as an AmeriCorps State & National member at St. Bernard Project in Chalmette, LA.  As a member of the NCCC, I had participated in a few environmental conservation projects and found it to be very gratifying work.  I also felt drawn to the outdoors and was looking to return to the Northeast (I grew up in Pennsylvania) but had never been to Maine.  The MCC seemed like the right combination of physical work, environmental stewardship, and beautiful surroundings.

Why should prospective members join?

I recommend that prospective members join the MCC because it is a unique and truly formative experience that gives members the opportunity to have a tangible, lasting impact on the environment. I still look back and am proud of the work I did.  I continue to feel very connected to the communities I served, and I have a personal stake in the well being of those communities.  Last month, my wife and I spent a week in Maine, which was my first time back since 2011.  In some ways, it felt like coming home, and I made it a point to visit a few of my old projects to see how they have held up. They looked pretty good!     

 

Vital Lessons in Acceptance at MCC By Field Team Member Emily LeGrand

Participating in a conservation corps program like the Maine Conservation Corps (MCC) would be an important, transformative experience for young people at any time in history, but it is particularly impactful right now, at this particular point in history for both the young people who participate and for our communities, because of the ways it demands coming to know the complexity, contradictions and beauty within people different from yourself.

In case you aren’t familiar with how the MCC works, teams of 6 or 7 people, ages 18 and up, from all over the United States are formed in late May, or in late August. They live and work together in the woods of Maine for five or nine days at a time for 3 months. This is an intense environment for sure! We are working from 7 am to 4:30 pm, with 15 minute breaks at 10 and 2 and 30 minutes for lunch. Then, depending on whether you are on a front country or back country hitch, there can be a long list of chores to do at camp, from cooking, sorting and storing food properly, setting up bear hangs, collecting firewood, building a fire, collecting, treating and carrying water, cleaning up, digging sump holes and latrines, and doing dishes. By the time all that is done, you and your team are free to swim, play cards, tell silly stories by the fire, read, explore the area around your camp, or just wind down in your tent and sleep, a lot. This set-up requires that everyone participate in getting all these things done. It means that people are often tired. In the beginning, depending upon everyone’s starting points with social settings, camping, manual work, work in general, and so on, people are in various stages of transition while they get used to life at MCC. And transitions are generally stressful. This creates an environment where people are being perhaps their truest, rawest selves. It’s hard to hide or put up a front when you’re stressed, tired or with the same people 24/7.

I was on a crew that focused on rock work. I think rock work in particular reveals a lot about who someone is and how they function. It can be slow, frustrating, difficult and creative work. It can also be really fun! But when you’re trying to set a rock into thick, wet muck, and you can’t see the bottom of your hole to know what’s in the way of the rock finally settling in properly, or when you discover there’s another giant rock in your way, and getting it out would require two more people, two more tools located a half a mile away, and ripping up the work you’ve already done, you learn about people. You get to know who’s calm and positive, who’s got wacky ideas, who’s edge of frustration is just below the surface, who’s a collaborator, who’s persistent and who’s willing to get really muddy. We might not even know these things about ourselves until we find ourselves navigating these tricky situations.

And it’s this environment where authenticity emerges which is so powerful and important, on both a personal level, and in our society. Everyone’s truest selves, their strengths, weaknesses, quirks and complexities are slowly revealed for all to see. It’s not often in our modern lives where we have a chance to glimpse a stranger so fully. So many situations give us just a slice of someone- in a classroom, in a board meeting, on the school bus, at a café, in the office, as a housemate, on a sports team, on the street. We might know our close friends, or partners intimately because they share their thoughts, hopes and secrets with us. But even then we might not know much about them in terms of how they function in such a demanding and people-neutral environment. MCC and other similar programs provide a way to come to know a complete stranger, one who might be quite different from you, on a fairly intimate level, even if you do not actually become close friends with that person. And then, you must take these strangers on board, and learn to live, work, accept and maybe even love them because there is no other option.

In contrast, in modern life, we have so many opportunities to do the exact opposite. We can and do sort through and discard people from our lives in favour of someone else who is funnier or less intense or who has more in common with ourselves. When we are meeting people and choosing who to become close to, who to follow up with, who to hang out with again, we are in a way sorting and discarding people. At the very least, we are judging them. To be fair to all of us, because we all do this, we must do this. There are simply so many people in the world, and most of us live in urban areas where there are many people flowing through our daily lives. In order to cope, we must sort people and judge people based on our visual knowledge or a few interactions.

But there are deep lessons to be learned and carried on from the intimate knowing and being known by strangers that MCC offers. We can learn to lean in and try new ways of interacting with someone we would have simply backed away from before, and thus discover new parts of ourselves. We have to.  If we are working with that person all day, and we are arguing with them about how to do something and it’s only 9am, continuing to stay engaged and trying to figure it out is the only option available. Or we might be surprised to see a stereotype defied in a person on our team. The most cautious, careful and safety-aware person on my team was the 18 year old guy, for example. Or, the person with the most exuberant, child-like energy was also very thoughtful, self-sufficient and wise. We might see that the thing that we find most annoying about someone is the same trait which causes that person the most challenge and suffering, and so we can learn to have compassion for them instead of (or at least alongside of) feeling simple annoyance. We might get into an interesting debate with our team and learn that a person can have one trait, experience or opinion, and then out of nowhere bring up a completely contradictory opinion in the debate. And it forces us to just allow that to be true in them, and to confront the fact that human beings don’t make sense. We are all contradictory and complicated and surprising. And that’s also what makes each person beautiful. MCC gives us a lived experience in knowing that one thing about a person predicts very little else about that person. We simply have to sit and wait to see what they show us or tell us next to continue learning about them.

I think if each of us who has had this experience can carry it into the world beyond MCC where we can and do sort and judge people, perhaps we can do our sorting and judging more gently and openly. We can bring our knowledge that a person’s skin color, socio-economic class, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or clothing choices predict very little about whether we might find connection, fun, understanding or appreciation in that person. So we might stay open to them longer. Or it might be just a new way of appreciating a random stranger on the bus. We might think “well if each stranger I had the opportunity to get to know well turned out to be pretty complex with many wonderful qualities, I bet it’s probably true for this seemingly grumpy old man sitting next to me on this bus too.” This simple thought process of staying open to the possibilities and contradictions within each person is actually a very tough process, but I think is the key to confronting much of the social and political divisiveness in our country and the world.

To close, I’ll share one of these moments with my crew when true generosity and integrity was revealed. One night, our team leader was putting her backpack into the trailer before bed, and a baby red squirrel happened to jump onto her pack just as she was placing it into the trailer. When I came by to put my last things in the trailer, she’d been working on getting the baby squirrel out for at least a half an hour. Then it was the two of us, working on this conundrum for at least another half an hour. We were getting tired and frustrated. I was convinced we had traumatized the little squirrel, who was sitting with a creepy, frozen stare in the tiny space between the trailer wall and the wooden tool box and that his heart might even have stopped. I decided the only way we were going to know for sure that he was out of the trailer and that we really could go to bed without worrying about the squirrel dying in there or eating all our food was to completely empty the trailer and watch him leave. But since we had been at it for over an hour at that point and emptying the trailer is a lot of work, and it was the whole team’s trailer and food at risk, I suggested we go see who was awake and willing to help us. So we went down to the tent area and explained the situation and a usual suspect kindly came to help us. Yay! Thank you! And then a couple minutes later, we saw the two other guys trudging up the hill toward the trailer. They had both been literally half asleep and had somehow, with great willpower and integrity, finished waking up, decided they should really help out and got out of their cozy tents to offer their help or at least moral support. Wow! Amazing people. It would have been so easy to just stay asleep, and that would have been totally fine and acceptable. Turned out that it was really quick to empty the trailer with five people and our dear squirrel, which we named Left Turn Larry, left the trailer in a matter of minutes, and we all went to bed with peace of mind.

IMG_3422About Emily LeGrand

Emily is a mostly serious person who loves being pulled into silliness and joyful spontaneity. She also loves being outside, getting to know people well, and thinks an MCC-like experience should be available to any and all young people who want it.

Job Board Resources

Below are some job board resources to help you find your next career adventure!

More information on job opportunities with the Maine Conservation Corps can be found on our website. Consider joining MCC as a Field Team Member or an Environmental Steward! Also considering volunteering with MCC to gain new skills and build a strong resume!

Maine Specific Job Boards

  • Maine Land Trust Network Job Board
    • Listed are current positions available at land trusts and associated entities.
  • State of Maine Natural Resources Job Postings
    • Listed are Direct Hire Job – Vacancy Postings in the following agencies: Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry, Environmental Protection, Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, Marine Resources and Natural Resources Service Center.
  • Nonprofits Job Board
    • Maine Association of Nonprofits hosts the only job board in Maine exclusively for nonprofit and philanthropic employment opportunities.
  • Maine Municipal Association Job Board
    • Job Postings for municipal governments in Maine.
  • Cool Works – Maine Jobs
    • Jobs opening within the State of Maine.
  • Jobs In Maine
    • Connecting job seekers and employers in Maine since 1999
  • My Maine Job
    • Search hundreds of jobs, build your unique profile, and let companies find you!
  • Live and Work in Maine
    • Live and Work in Maine is a private-sector initiative designed to increase awareness about the great career opportunities that exist in Maine, and promote the world-class quality of life Mainers enjoy.

Conservation and Environmental Specific Job Boards

Additional Job Boards

  • USAJobs and Pathways
    • Federal jobs such as the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service, Geological Survey, etc.
  • AmeriCorps
    • AmeriCorps isn’t just one program: it’s a family of programs that range from teaching and mentoring children to fighting poverty to wildfire mitigation and just about everything in between. With so many AmeriCorps service opportunities, they are sure there’s something perfect for you. To begin your AmeriCorps adventure, check out their site and get ready for an amazing and fulfilling experience giving back to your neighbors, your community, and your country!
  • The Student Conservation Association
    • SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of the environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.
  • Conservation Corps Jobs
    • An easy-to-use tool for anyone seeking to gain employment and or are hiring for any type of position at a conservation Corps across the country. From Corps Member positions all the way up to CEO, if you’re looking to get involved with a Corps this is a good place to start!
  • American Conservation Experience
    • An opportunity to Change your Future and Restore our Lands.

Volunteer Opportunities Boards 

  • Volunteer Maine
    • VolunteerMaine.org is a project of the Maine Commission for Community Service. It was launched in 2002 as a means of creating a “one-stop” service for both citizens who want to volunteer and community groups seeking to address local problems through volunteer-powered solutions.
  • Volunteer Match
    • Find a cause that lights you up. Get in touch with a nonprofit that needs you.
  • The Stewardship Network – New England
    • The Stewardship Network: New England is an environmental initiative that empowers generations of outdoor enthusiasts to volunteer for nature, because we know what a community of nature lovers can do to change the world.
  • Volunteer.gov
    • This is a United States Federal Government portal which lists volunteer opportunities on public lands in the United States.

 

Alumni Spotlight: Emily Greene

We love hearing from our Alumni! For this blog post we are putting a spotlight on MCC Alum Emily Greene! From January 2016 to December 2016, Emily was the Environmental Steward at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service. Emily currently works in Biddeford, ME at the University of New England:

“My boss and I have started a project called the Saco Watershed Collaborative.  We are helping over 30 nonprofit, state, federal, and academic organizations create a stewardship network around the Saco River Watershed.  This project encompasses stakeholders from the headwaters in North Conway, New Hampshire to the Saco Estuary in Saco, Maine.”

How did serving with MCC affect your personal and professional growth?

My service with MCC helped me realize that collaboration is a key part of bringing people together to resolve their philosophical, social, political, and environmental differences. 

What is your favorite memory with MCC?

My favorite memory with MCC was understanding how diverse organizations work together to find common values in order to protect Maine’s environment. 

What was your reasoning for joining the MCC?

I joined MCC to gain a better understanding of conservation in Maine so that I can put that knowledge into action in my professional career in environmental conservation.

Why should prospective members join?

Members should join because it is a great opportunity to discover how you can be a part of Maine’s conservation effort.  As an Environmental Steward, you gain a different perspective of conservation because you are in a unique position to observe how different organizations and key stakeholders all play a different but integral role in preserving an environmental-based culture in Maine.

 

Volunteers & Invasives

MCC Environmental Steward Brittany Bivona hosted Invasive Species Workdays and had a few volunteers from the New England Stewardship Network who contributed their time to help pull up oriental bittersweet, buckthorn and burning bush at both parks she is serving at: Fort McClary and Vaughan Woods!

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Brittany stated that parks have an invasive species issue.

            “Fort McClary is just covered with bittersweet especially on the picnic side of the park. This one area that we attacked that was all covered with bittersweet vines and buckthorn; the vines of the bittersweet were wrapped around the buckthorn.”

On August 24, Brittany had three awesome volunteers who she previous knew from the Natural Resource Stewardship Program. She was happy to serve along fellow friends and accomplish some service hours. However, the task of invasive species removal was not easy!

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“We attacked the picnic side of the park to pull up the gigantic bittersweet roots. At this point (I noticed) there was no way of completely eradicating the oriental bittersweet because the root system is too strong and covered underneath the soil. I realized that the bittersweet root doesn’t just grow upwards out of the ground but diagonally across in the soil.”

To mitigate the issue, Brittany alongside the volunteers had to ensure they pulled the entire root by pulling up the root and following it in all directions of its growth. She stresses the importance of removal or the invasive species have the potential to outcompete native species and decrease the park’s biodiversity drastically.

 “If you just allow the invasive species to grow, it will just be a monoculture and oriental bittersweet and buckthorn shows how much it can really take over and outcompete all other trees and plants.”

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On the fort side of the park, where White Ash trees grow through the trails, Brittany had volunteers and herself prune back the bittersweet vines that had been tangled and wrapped around the white ash trees.

At Vaughan Woods the park does not have as big of an invasive species issue and there were not any areas completely covered in invasives.

“(Here) It’s more pulling up individual roots or bittersweet and honeysuckle, so it was much easier before the vines and roots got thicker like it is over at Fort McClary, where it harder to pull up. There was an area of burning bush that is covered, and a couple of years ago there was a group of volunteers that pulled up a lot of the burning bush. Luckily, it was far off the trails but it was still in the park so it’s good to catch it early before it spreads to the trails and outcompetes with other species. Vaughan woods has a tremendous biodiversity value, and we like to preserve that the best we can in the most natural way.”

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Additionally, Brittany mentioned that Vaughan Woods has Hemlock Wholly Adelgrid (HWA), which is an invasive aphid-like insect that feeds on hemlocks.

“A few years ago, there were beetles released in the park that only ate the Adelgrid, and supposedly the population of this invasive insect had declined. There are many hemlock saplings that are clear from the HWA, however the tall hemlock trees we don’t know if they are up there on the needle or not.”

To conclude Brittany states that a consistent group of volunteers is need critical.

“A consistent group of volunteers for invasive species cleanup day is critical to have in regular routine or program throughout the summer to properly manage the erratic growth of these invasive species, it’s especially critical to have volunteers during spring and fall clean ups.”

Trail Crew Diet by Field Team Member Grace Lasota

Performing physical work for nine hours a day takes a lot out of a person. Thankfully, here on the trail crew we can all rely on a hearty meal after work to replenish our bodies and give us energy for the following morning. Here are some of my favorite recipes I’ve adopted this summer season!

*Each meal is portioned to feed six, adjust as necessary

Chili-mac

This is a fantastic meal, jam-packed with everything you could ever want. I learned that it’s good even when cold on an occasion our camping stoves decided to stop working. Compliments go to field team member Nathan Fuller.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of red chili beans (has chili sauce in it)
  • 2 cans of white chili beans
  • 2 cans of black chili beans
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 or 2 packets of chili seasoning for extra taste
  • 2 packages of veggie sausage
  • 1 family sized box of Velveeta mac and cheese

Directions:

  1. Boil water and cook noodles, strain, add velveeta cheese
  2. Cut up sausages and throw ‘em in
  3. Add beans, tomatoes, and seasoning
  4. Stir periodically until hot

Cheesy Burritos

One great thing about getting a ridiculous amount of exercise is that you can basically eat whatever you want! I’m know I won’t make this meal often in my everyday life but it was highly requested within my crew and a trail must-have. Compliments go to assistant team leader Joel Kopcial.

Ingredients:

  • Flour tortillas
  • Corn chips
  • 1 jar of salsa (we used verde)
  • 1 large can of refried beans
  • 1 bag of rice
  • 1 32 oz. bag of shredded mexican 4-cheese blend

Directions:

  1. Prepare the rice
  2. Stir in the salsa, refried beans, and cheese
  3. Stir until smooth and hot
  4. Serve in a tortilla or with chips

Portabella Mushroom Burgers

These burgers can wait to be cooked for a few days while in the backcountry, unlike beef. They are an unexpectedly juicy way to complete the day. Compliments to yours truly!

Ingredients:

  • 2 portabella mushrooms per person
  • 2 packages of hamburger buns
  • 1 16oz. bag of cheese
  • 3 peppers of your choice
  • 6 red potatoes
  • Oil

Mushroom directions:

  1. Brown the hamburger buns in a pan and set to the side
  2. Set the portabella face down on it’s stem. You will know when to flip once this side becomes soft and moist
  3. Flip the mushroom on to it’s top and put a handful of cheese into the cooked side
  4. Cover the pan to help with melting. You will know the top side is done when it becomes soft. If juices start to run out of the mushroom, it is definitely done
  5. Serve with a bun

Side directions:

  1. Chop up peppers and potatoes
  2. Put a liberal amount of oil in a pan or pot
  3. Throw the peppers and potatoes in the pot and cook until tender
  4. If you have left over cheese, throw it in there too

 

IMG_0600About Grace Lasota

Grace is a Field Team Member for the Maine Conservation Corps. She is a traveler, environmentalist, and notoriously ungraceful.

Off Hitch Adventures by Field Team Member Grace Lasota

Hitch/on hitch: the period of time spent working on a trail crew, often between five to nine days consecutively

Off hitch: two to five days of unrestricted free time

I find it difficult to explain to my friends and family just how fun being on hitch can be. It’s an honor to be able to spend days at a time outdoors, seeing all the beauty Maine has to offer in its huge forests that are crisscrossed with lakes, streams, waterfalls, dotted with mountains, rock-mazes, cliffs, and absolutely teeming with wildlife. How am I supposed to describe spending 24/7 with a team of people who have become my support system and closest friends? I tell them that working on a project gifts a sense of accomplishment at the end of each day, along with motivation coming back the following day and admiring the progress made. So many memories and inside jokes are made, so you kind of have to be there… 

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Often, when I return to cell-service, the first thing I mention to the people who haven’t heard from me in over a week is what I’ll be doing for the off hitch. As much as I love the work I do, off hitches are a magical time that can bring you places you never expected. If you’re like me, they are usually figured out the day of, texting friends you met in chainsaw training or orientation a variation of “Where are you going this weekend?”.

Over the summer season, I was working in Baxter State Park which housed four MCC teams. We would meet at Taco Tuesday in Millinocket after work, push a bunch of tables together, and catch each other up on the funny/weird/beautiful things we experienced during hitch. The town of Millinocket, just outside of Baxter SP, is a cute little town offering places to brunch, shop, and lodge in order to unwind from a hitch filled with hard physical work. If relaxing isn’t your thing, there are a few places that will take you whitewater rafting or you could climb Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine, reaching one mile!

I prefer to stray a little farther from the worksite for my off hitches and have visited places all over Maine!

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  • I’ve thrift shopped in Winthrop
  • Ate lunch with some pals in Augusta
  • Explored the college town of Bangor
  • Walked a breakwater, hiked along the bay, and saw two lighthouses in Rockland
  • Swam in Moosehead Lake and camped at Lily Bay State Park
  • Attended the Black Fly Ball (music and arts festival) in Machias
  • Accidentally stumbled upon Fort Knox and toured the fort

Most people on the trail crews are from out of state, which is a great perk when it comes to off hitch plans (and future adventuring destinations). My good friend Keva Pariyar, also an author for this blog, is from Massachusetts and we once road tripped 8 hours to visit her mom, dog, and beloved bunny. It was so nice to have a comfy bed to sleep in and access to television and wifi after living without those luxuries. We also took a day trip to the beaches of Rhode Island where the water was cold and the sand sparkled. I’ve never relaxed more than that day we laid in the sun eating watermelon and chips with hummus.

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My first time traveling to the mid-west was with eight members of MCC to the great state of Indiana. It took 18 hours to get there but the journey flew by as we took turns driving and blasted good music. We were guests in a giant house on a lake and had the best time out on the boat toting four tubes behind us. The nights were spent watching fireworks, as this off hitch landed on the Fourth of July, and solidifying friendships with people I never would have known if I had not joined MCC. I can’t wait to see the adventures I’ll find myself on this fall!

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About Grace Lasota

Grace is a Field Team Member for the Maine Conservation Corps. She is a traveler, environmentalist, and notoriously ungraceful.