The Island Fellows Program began its 11th year in September, with four new Island Fellows joining five returning Fellows. One additional Island Fellow will be placed on Swan’s Island in early October, for a total of 10 Island Fellows.

Since 1999, the Island Institute has placed more than 70 bright, talented college and masters-degree graduates in all 15 year-round island communities and several working-waterfront communities along the Maine coast to work on critical local projects.

Jessica Bellah (Frenchboro), Rebecca Graham (Vinalhaven), Margaret Snell (Isle au Haut) and Eli Bossin (Chebeague) have been selected by their island host organizations, which have committed to providing on-island advisers to provide support and guidance for the Island Fellow during their placement.

Eli Bossin is the recipient of the Louis W. Cabot Fellow award, funded by the Grayce B. Kerr Foundation in honor of Louis Cabot, vice-chair of the Institute’s board of trustees and chair of the Institute’s successful “Sustaining a Way of Life” capital campaign. Eli will serve with the Chebeague Island Historical Society and the Town of Chebeague Island. For the town, he will copy and catalogue town records, and help create an electronic retrieval system to make these records accessible to the public. He will also help get ¬†road and paper street research completed and organized. Eli will assist the historical society with the creation of its 2010 exhibit, and help the society apply for a Maine Humanities Infrastructure grant to provide additional exhibit furniture and audiovisual equipment. He will also assist with the Maine Island Historical Society Conference, researching various aspects of the potential conference and conducting a feasibility study.

Margaret Snell is the recipient of the James and Joanne Cooney Island Fellow award, funded by founding members of the Island Institute, “Jim” and “Johnny” Cooney of Attleboro, Massachusetts and Waldoboro, Maine. Margaret will serve with the Isle au Haut Comprehensive Plan Committee (CPC), which is at the inventory and assessment stage of the comprehensive planning process. She will work on building the town’s informational database using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. To ensure that this system is sustainable, Margaret will also help community members learn how to use the new software and navigate the database.

Jessica Bellah will serve with the Town of Frenchboro Board of Selectmen. She will assist with many projects, including establishing a town recycling program and coordinating her efforts with school initiatives; developing a family composting system; collaborating in exploring long-term strategies for solid waste handling; assisting with the community gardening program in collaboration with the school; facilitating the required online training of fire fighters and emergency responders; and collaborating with the Board of Selectmen to foster the town’s relationship with the Acadia Disposal District.

Rebecca Graham will work with the board of directors and staff for Island Village Childcare on Vinalhaven (IVC), a nonprofit, year-round childcare center, which provides affordable childcare to island residents. Rebecca will assist staff in implementing a play-focused, family-oriented program using Creative Curriculum, published by Teaching Strategies, Inc. She will also work with the board and staff to identify areas in the program where staff members need professional development and training. Another responsibility will be to work with Partners in Island Education (PIE), an organization dedicated to supporting the Vinalhaven School. Rebecca will help coordinate the many committees and programs associated with the organization, including Vinalhaven School Enrichment, After School Arts Programs, production committees and the scholarship program.

These four new Island Fellows will join the following Fellows who are starting their second year of service: Mary Terry, the Casco Bay Affordable Housing Fellow; Lana Cannon, the Matinicus School and Historical Preservation Fellow; Emma Miran, the Stonington Planning and Development Fellow; and Eliza Greenman, the Cranberry Isles Sustainable Community Development Fellow.

The Island Fellows Program is funded in part by an AmeriCorps grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service, and is administered through the Maine Commission for Community Service. As part of this grant, each Island Fellow will focus on volunteer recruitment, management and training to ensure that projects are sustained after their two years of service.

For more information, including biographies of each Island Fellow, please visit http://islandinstitute.org/fellows.php The Island Fellows Program will be recruiting new Fellow host sites for the 2010-2011 program during the fall of 2009. If you would like to request an Island Fellow for your community, or if you are interested in becoming an Island Fellow, please contact Chris Wolff, cwolff@islandinstitute.org; 207-712-8551.