The Island Institute’s Island Fellows program is soliciting applications for 2008-2009, seeking to fill up to eight positions. Island Fellow placements address pressing challenges facing Maine’s year-round island and remote coastal communities.

This cohort of Fellows marks the 10th anniversary of the Island Fellows program, which has significantly changed over the years.
The first island fellow, Susan Little, was hired to do sea sampling in Casco Bay from February to June 1999. Little’s research was part of a larger Island Institute initiative examining the Casco Bay marine water quality, but by getting to know islanders while living on Chebeague and hitching rides with Chebeague, Cliff and Long Island fishermen, she learned that the communities had additional needs.   

Piquing community interest with her sea-sampling research and analysis, Little began assisting island schools with environmental studies projects.  Once again, she found that her duties kept expanding.

Today those tasks have expanded to projects that have been addressed by over 50 Island Fellows, who have served in each of the year-round island communities.

Building upon each successful fellowship, the program has become an effective method of providing direct support and resources to communities.  Many island communities and institutions depend primarily upon the efforts of volunteers who often serve multiple organizations in addition to having a career and family. The energy and enthusiasm of a young and talented recent college or master’s level graduate able, to dedicate themselves full-time to their host communities and/or institutions, can accomplish much.

For example, Peaks Island Community Development Fellow Sarah Curran helped the Peaks Island Land Preserve digitize and catalog its landholdings, develop maintenance plans and integrate environmental learning into the curriculum at the Peaks Island School.  In addition, Curran and another Fellow based in Machias, Jeremy Gabrielson, published the Island Indicators Report in March 2007, collecting and examining data on the economic, social and environmental conditions of the 15 year-round islands. This report will be updated every two years so that information can be tracked to reveal important trends.

Since completing her fellowship, Curran has made the transition to a consulting career with Planning Decisions Inc. in Hallowell. Siobhan Ryan’s experience managing, developing programming and digitizing the Swan’s Island and Frenchboro Libraries — efforts that were recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) when it named Ryan an ALA Emerging Leader in 2007 — led to a position as the librarian at Conners-Emerson Elementary School in Bar Harbor.  

Chebeague Island Historical Preservation Fellow Carly Knight became trained as an EMT with the Chebeague Island Rescue and is now enrolled in a nursing program at University of Southern Maine. In addition, Knight still works part-time and volunteers at the local historical society, continuing the valuable work that she accomplished digitizing and archiving the collection, staffing the museum and organizing volunteers, assisting with exhibit design, and writing grants for capital improvement and professional archival services.

Most important, Fellows have become valued members of their communities. Ryan and Knight still reside in their respective island communities.

Curran continues to work on projects involving the islands and the Portland waterfront, regularly running into Peaks islanders.  

The Island Institute is seeking the next group of Fellows eager to use their skills to benefit the island communities.

Fellows are needed for a wide variety of projects in equally diverse communities. Tentative placement sites for 2008-2009 include the Long Island Community Center; Matinicus Island School and Matinicus Historical Society; Islesboro Community Center; North Haven Historical Society; Cranberry Isles Town Office; Stonington-Deer Isle Opera House and Peaks Island Affordable Housing.

For more information about these positions and application requirements, please visit the Island Institute website,