Faye Smith, EES Student Ambassador

Why did you choose UMaine and the EES program?

I chose UMaine for the broad arrangement of Natural Science and Forestry majors, concentrations, and courses.  I’ve always had an interest in sustainability and how to improve the relationship between humans and their environment. When I applied to UMaine, I had chosen Marine Science as my major planning to learn how to improve the human relationship to marine life and sustainable food systems. However, In the fall of my 2nd year,  I took a course called “Building Sustainable Communities” and it truly opened my eyes to the importance of community resilience, sustainable living, and permaculture practices. After that course I made the move to the EES program so I would be able to take more courses like “Building sustainable communities”.

Why did you choose your particular concentration?

As a child, my grandmother kept a garden in our backyard and she was able to grow an abundance of food for not only our family but for our neighbors as well. Then when my family did not live with my grandmother anymore my mom signed up for a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program that helped bring fresh local veggies to Queens New York City. I found it so inspiring to see how when a community works together to organize great things can happen. Now being an adult and college student I see how food insecurity reaches so many more families than just my own. I chose my concentration of sustainability to learn more about sustainable food systems, permaculture practices, and ways to build community resilience so humans can begin to regain our independence from large corporations and chain supermarkets.

Best hands-on experience?

I was able to get a short summer job in 2020 as a gardener for a retired professor from UMaine. I was able to implement permaculture practices and principles that I’d learned in PAX 370 (Building Sustainable Communities) and the Orono Community Garden I volunteer at allows me to improve my gardening skills for when I open my own CSA.

What do you do when you aren’t studying or attending classes?

When I’m not studying or attending classes I volunteer at a community garden in my town that grows vegetables for the elderly in the community. I participate in clubs on campus and work with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to create an inclusive environment to students on campus. I also love to go on hikes, bike rides, create art such as paintings, and listen to music. I am in the process of becoming sound healer certified.

Any wisdom or advice for prospective EES students?

For new and prospective students I’d say ask questions, answer questions, and don’t be afraid to get the answer wrong! We are in college to learn and you won’t know everything, and every answer might not come immediately to you but don’t give up! There are so many things that make you unique and different from the person next to you so embrace new ideas, lifestyles, and perspectives with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and step out of your comfort zone every now and then.