The University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) will participate in a four-year statewide collaborative project led by the University of Maine to foster resilient forest communities in Maine. The Maine-FOREST, or Forest-based Opportunities for Resilient Economy, Sustainability and Technology project, will be funded through a $7 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Kennedy Rubert-Nason, UMFK Assistant Professor of Chemistry, will lead the portion of the project located on the UMFK campus, which will consist of research that explores how different human-environment relationships involving Indigenous peoples shape Maine’s forests.

As part of the grant, each year, over the next four years, an undergraduate student intern will be hired to assist with the research. Interns will learn workforce-relevant technology as well as leadership and multicultural skills through co-productive relationships involving academic and community stakeholders, including a Wabanaki cultural knowledge sharer. Through dialogue, students will explore different perspectives on how the use of science and technology can shape socio-ecological resilience.

“UMFK student interns will use scientific methods to explore how humans’ relationships with forests shapes these ecosystems and the economic and cultural benefits they provide,” said Dr. Rubert-Nason, “In conjunction with UMFK faculty and Wabanaki cultural knowledge sharers, interns will co-develop management practices that increase the resilience of Maine’s forests to climate change, learn to collaborate with Indigenous peoples, and gain a deeper understanding of the role of humans in Earth’s ecosystems from diverse cultural perspectives.”

To learn more about the Maine-FOREST project, please visit the news release on the UMaine website.