The Alumni Spotlight this week shines on Kelly Pontbriand of Gouldsboro, a 1980 UMM graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies. She is currently an administrative technician at Acadia National Park as well as a trainer and handler of rescue dogs.
Tell us a little bit about what you are doing now:
I am married to Ed Pontbriand (Recreation Management, 1979) whom I met at UMM. We have worked for the National Park Service (NPS) since 1980 and have enjoyed traveling around the United States throughout our career. I am currently working in the Division of Interpretation in Acadia National Park. I have held a variety of positions in the NPS such as park naturalist, concessions assistant, bookstore manager, and budget technician. I am also a volunteer search and rescue dog handler. I have been doing this since 1985 and have trained five dogs over the years. Over the past 30 years, my border collies and I have assisted with searches for lost people in Maine, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Washington. We have descended into caves, climbed mountains, flown in helicopters, encountered bears, bison, and rattlesnakes, and rafted through rapids.
What is the most valuable thing you learned while at UMM?
UMM taught me to not be afraid to try new things and to be open to new ideas and directions in life.
Do you have any advice for current students at UMM?
Get out there and try new things. You may find yourself on a rewarding and fulfilling path that will exceed your dreams.
How did your time at UMM prepare you for what you are doing now?
UMM opened up a wide range of new ideas and activities for me. I was well-equipped with my UMM education to fill many different roles in the National Park Service throughout my career.
How has UMM made a positive impact on your life?
UMM set me up to succeed in life. I am particularly thankful to Rick Scribner and the experiences I gained in his classes and with the Outing Club. I gained so much confidence finding Porcupine Hill with my compass, canoeing through rapids on the St. John River, and climbing Mt. Katahdin on Outing Club trips.