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Serendipity in the Fore River Sanctuary

Madeline Tripp (Environmental Resilience Fellow) shares her service day experience with Portland Trails.



On a cold, grey morning last week, the Resilience Corps huddled around a wooden kiosk at the Fore River Sanctuary, boots crunching in the ice. We were there to spend the morning building fences along the trails and to learn about Portland Trails, an organization that maintains a 70-mile network throughout the Greater Portland area. Despite waking up to a thick glaze of ice over everything, it was thrilling to be together and to have the chance to support an organization that does so much for our community. Even I, an easily chilled recent transplant from North Carolina, was ready to slip and slide my way through the trails (with no less than 5 layers on, of course).


Trails like these have preserved my sanity and brightened my day too many times to count in the past year. I’m not alone. Many people have flooded parks and trails in record numbers this year, including those that Portland Trails advocates and cares for. Their trails and the conserved lands provide refuge to a myriad of wildlife as well. Daniel Bishop, the Volunteer Coordinator for Portland Trails, explained how these conserved lands can connect ecosystems fragmented by development as he showed us around the Sanctuary’s marshland. The same marsh will also play a vital role in mitigating some of the impacts of rising waters caused by climate change.


Daniel, along with the trail stewards and a team of volunteers, keep up this network of trails that provide so many services to our community. The pandemic has limited volunteer groups drastically in the past year, making it difficult to keep up with normal maintenance projects. While the icy conditions were not ideal for fence building, we were still able to help by carrying in the supplies.


As our cohort tromped (or skated) our way through the Sanctuary, we were still able to take in the peacefulness of Jewell Falls and enjoy some rare time together as a team. We made friends with a dog, found a geocache (good eye, Cat!), and had a few dramatic falls that thankfully were more humorous than harmful. Despite the morning not going as planned, these little surprises made my day. It made me realize that many times, unexpected circumstances can be turned around when people simply show up and lean in. Many of us are serving in the Resilience Corps because we have seen how powerful showing up can be, and how a little can-do attitude can turn a surprise into serendipity.


About Madeline Tripp


Madeline grew up in the one-stoplight town of Bethel, North Carolina, kayaking the local rivers and developing an appreciation for the resilience of the surrounding rural communities. She graduated from East Carolina University in 2020 with bachelor's in Geography, a minor in Community Planning and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems. She is fascinated by the connections between environmental health, social equity and the ways that data can empower communities to become more resilient and fair. Being a part of the Resilience Corps is an exciting opportunity for her to learn what communities in the region are doing to address the wide range of issues they face, and to see the similarities between Maine and North Carolina. Madeline also can’t wait to get to know the rest of the Resilience Corps cohort. In her free time, she is excited to explore all the local shops and restaurants in Portland, to bike all the trails in the area and to see Maine in the snow!




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