This year’s Maine Policy Scholar from the University of Maine at Machias is Alyssa De Silva, who is researching the impact of the decline of the bee population on Washington County agricultural industries, such as blueberries and cranberries. UMM Professor Megan Duff is overseeing De Silva’s project.
The Maine Policy Scholars Program engages students in the public policy process. Scholarships are awarded annually to one student from each of the seven University of Maine System campuses to work with a faculty advisor and community mentor to tackle a real-life policy issue facing Maine. Topics may range from local to statewide significance and are expected to be well-defined, subject to research, and of real concern to Maine or a segment of its people.
The scholars conduct extensive research from literature, data analysis, interviews, or all three. Each produces a final report as a memo to the governor or appropriate policy maker that outlines the problem, data available, and recommended policy solutions.
Scholars meet regularly with their advisors on campus to focus the work, check progress, and get input on their research. Community mentors, who meet throughout the year with the students, are a link to the world off campus and serve as a “reality check” for the scholars’ work. At end of the academic year, all Policy Scholars gather to make final presentations and respond to questions from a panel of Maine policy makers.
The program is funded by the Maine Community Foundation and administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine.