SMCC Welcomes our 2022 Summer Associates to the team

The Southern Maine Conservation Collaborative is excited to have Chas Van Damme and Madison Sheppard join our team this summer.


“Hello! My name is Chas and I couldn’t be more excited to be working with SMCC and MEEA this summer! I am a rising Senior at Bates College studying Environmental Studies with a focus in Global Environmental Politics. I’m an avid hiker, love to bike, and will eat just about anything you put in front of me!

As climate change continues to surface its ugly head throughout the world, its impacts have only grown in scale. This couldn’t be more evident in my hometown of Harpswell, where eroding peninsulas stretch far into the fastest-warming ocean body in the world, and the once booming lobster industry now faces projections of drastically declining lobster populations. Seeing first-hand the impacts of human-induced climate change has largely motivated me to find ways to play an active role in reducing these issues at their core. Having worked with a local land trust as a field team member last summer, I got my hands dirty by manually eradicating invasive species, managing trail erosion, and even caring for recently-planted American Chestnut seedlings. Now, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue similar work, but at the research and investigative level by working with SMCC and MEEA on a wide array of projects, each of which uniquely contributing toward improving and rehashing more equitable relationships with the world around us. Through SMCC, its members, and MEEA, I am especially interested in deepening my understanding behind the politics of conservation and working to mitigate the disproportionate impacts that BIPOC and low-income communities continue to face when it comes to environmental harm. It’s going to be a great summer and I can’t wait to start learning from all the wonderful people working tirelessly to protect this region we call Maine.”


My name is Madison and I am a 21 year old artist and activist living in Western Maine. I spent most of my life where I grew up, in Cape Cod, MA. We lived close to the ocean, which aided my passion for shark conservation. I wanted to be a marine biologist growing up, and spent a lot of time at the science labs in Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the age of 11. This position will help me get started in conservation work, where one day I can help protect endangered species and habitats… maybe I’ll start with some sharks :). I am now a college student currently majoring in biology and astrophysics.