Five reasons why it’s great to be an Island Fellow

Kate Tagai
Posted 2016-03-08

The Island Fellows Program is one of the signature programs of the Island Institute. Since 1999, the Island Fellows Program has placed college and master’s degree graduates in Maine’s coastal and year-round island communities for one to two years. Fellowships provide a unique opportunity for recent graduates to apply their skills and experience to help build sustainability within communities whose way of life and identity face many challenges. 

The Island Fellows Program immerses Fellows within a community, connecting directly with islanders to gain an intimate understanding of island life and apply it to the identified project. 

We’re accepting applications for Island Fellow positions to start in fall 2016. Click here to learn more or apply!

Here’s what some current and past Fellows love about it: 

  1. Community potlucks 

Erin Love says, “I kept hearing about all these amazing potluck dinners other fellows were going to.  And I kept waiting for the potlucks to start.  Didn’t happen.  So I started to develop some serious potluck envy. It occurred to me to see if the kids at the elementary school wanted to plan a potluck. They did! Everyone enjoyed themselves, the kids were proud of their work, and they were very impressed by the dessert spread.”      

  1. Participating in island traditions

Ben Algeo says, “Monhegan “Trap Day” is an island tradition. For me, trap day was a learning experience.  I learned that you’re not supposed to stand on lobster traps.  I learned how to fit as many lobster traps as possible onto the back of a truck, how to properly tie them down, and how to ride on the back of the fully loaded truck without falling off.  I learned how to operate a winch, and how to accept that some things just aren’t for me. (I believe the exact quote was something along the lines of: “Oh for *&#%# sake, give me the winch!”)  I also learned that some things can be done by just one person, or only a few people, but are much better when everyone gets involved.”

  1. Winter, yes, winter

Jessi Duma says, “Island winters are good for thinking. In fact, that is one of the main things they are good for. On a winter day when the roads were covered in ice, we sat dreaming of greener times, of putting our hands in soil, and eating something fresh from the ground. We decided that we wanted to revitalize old gardens on Great Cranberry Island. The rampant enthusiasm we encountered encouraged and inspired us—this was no longer just a cool idea that we had dreamed up in our living room, it was a community project with the energy behind it to make things happen!”

  1. The mix of work and life

Meghan Cooper says, “The very nature of being an Island Fellow is that your job and your life are inextricably intertwined. It’s not one big event or victory or celebration that makes the fellowship worthwhile. It’s the little events and victories and celebrations, the little moments that happen almost every day. My favorite moments, and the ones I remember best, are the kinds of moments that are hard to write up in a neat little package, but are what make life on an island–life as an Island Fellow–worth the boat ride, worth the winter, and worth the living.”

  1. Learning new skills

Anna Smith says, “I am now part of a volleyball league, basketball league, a knitting club, a band and I have participated in a hootenhanny, ice fishing, and ski trips. Had I done any of these activities before? Absolutely not. Did I embarrass myself at any or all of these events? Yes. But more importantly, I have had a great time engaging with other people and learning about Swans Island through participating in these activities.”

We’re accepting applications for Island Fellow positions to start in fall 2016. Click here to learn more or apply!