Laura Wood Wins both 2010 Bickford and Boyle Prizes

Laura WoodThe John F. Boyle Prize recognizes the top graduating senior in the Ecology and Environmental Sciences program.  This year’s winner was Laura Wood from Scarborough, Maine.  Like Julia McGuire in 2006, Laura also won the Bickford Prize, emblematic of the top student in the College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

Laura’s summer experiences reflect her desire to constantly learn.  After her first year at UMaine she did a Student Conservation Association internship at Wind Cave National Park.  The following summer she worked as an intern in an innovative regional waste management and recycling firm, New England Organics, where she got to apply the skills from her academics in the real world.  And last summer she was an intern at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve.

This work at the Wells Reserve was part of Laura’s “Congressional trifecta.”  She came to UMaine as a George Mitchell Scholar, having been recognized in high school as an exceptional student.  During her Junior year she was chosen for a Morris K. Udall Scholarship, a most competitive national scholarship which recognizes the top environmental students in all American colleges and universities. ( ) Then Laura went one step further and earned an Ernest Hollings Fellowship through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  This combination is unprecedented among UMaine students.

The University of Maine News Release on Laura’s recognition:

Scarborough Student Named Top Graduate in UMaine College

April 30th, 2010

ORONO: Laura Wood of Scarborough, Maine, has been named the Outstanding Graduating Student in the University of Maine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture.

She will graduate May 8 with honors and a bachelor’s degree in ecology and environmental sciences. She concentrated in natural resource management and minored in anthropology.

“It’s been the best experience,” says Wood, talking about her academic career at UMaine. “I’m exactly where I want to be because of all the connections I made here.”

She came to UMaine as a Mitchell Scholar and a UMaine Top Scholar.

Her numerous scholarships included the James E. Totman Fund Scholarship and the Maine Difference Scholarship. Last year, she was named a Udall Scholar and, in 2008, a NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship Fellow.

As a Hollings Fellow, she assisted in research related to salt marsh restoration monitoring, bird surveys and snail microhabitat movements at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells, Maine. Her honors thesis also focused on salt marshes: “Returning the tide to Gulf of Maine salt marshes: evaluating plant, soil and hydrologic response to restoration.”

In spring 2009, Wood studied tropical rain forest management at the School for Field Studies in Queensland, Australia.  In summer 2008, she was an environmental intern with New England Organics, Portland, Maine, and in summer 2007, a resource management assistant with the Student Conservation Association at Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, S.D.

“Summer internships are the most important thing,” Woods says. “They gave me opportunities to experience natural resource management from the species level to the human waste and large ecosystem levels.”

On campus, Wood has been actively involved in numerous volunteer efforts, including two years with Alternative Spring Break. She was a member of the Green Campus Initiative and Alpha Zeta.

After graduation, she will move to Minnesota, where she hopes to be involved in watershed management research, then pursue graduate school to study environmental management.

“I want to gain more experience in research and then go into the classroom to share it,” says Wood.

Wood is the daughter of Gregory and Donna Wood.