Photo Credit: Glenn LeBlanc

BYCC Conservation Fellows 2021

photo by Alex Jacobs

[July 30, 2021]

We're very excited to introduce the amazing young people of our 2021 BYCC Conservation Fellows program. Without further ado, here they are in their own words!  We can't wait to share their summer projects with you.






Hello, my name is Elliot Shearer. I live in Millinocket, and I am a homeschool student going into my senior year of high school. I worked on the BYCC in 2019, where we worked mostly on the Wadleigh Brook Trail and rebuilt a bridge in the National Monument. I was not able to participate in 2020 because the adapted form of the program was only available to seniors and recent graduates, but I’m thrilled to be back this year. I will be researching the history of the Kidney Pond Camps and exploring the area surrounding the pond. I can’t wait to share my experiences with you all!

Hey there! My name is Emma McGraw and I’m from Sherman, Maine. I just recently graduated from Katahdin Middle High School in Stacyville, Maine. This will be my third year in the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps and my second in the Fellowship. My study focus is nature photography because I greatly enjoy capturing the incredible beauty of Baxter and feel that it is a great way to not only increase my knowledge and understanding of the Park, but to be able to share my experiences with my fellow nature lovers everywhere!

Hello, I’m Brady Kaelin from the Mt. Chase area. Now a college student majoring in botany, my interests drifted towards mycology around three years ago when I was given an outdated but interesting 1960’s field guide and was met with the astonishing biodiversity of Baxter State Park’s botanical and mycological life. After discovering and identifying a large patch of Lactarius thyinos in the park, I’ve been captivated by fungi! Since then, I’ve gathered more up-to-date, relevant sources for mushroom ID, as well as new methods of accurate identification. I hope to increase my knowledge of fungi and someday become more than just an amateur mycologist, spreading that knowledge onto others who find themselves similarly interested.

My name is Michael Clark and I am from Millinocket Maine. I recently graduated from Stearns High School here in Millinocket. This is my fourth year in the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps. I love to hike, hunt, and spend time working outdoors. My favorite thing to do in Baxter is to climb all the amazing mountains and trails the park has to offer. There are endless breathtaking views and awesome experiences all over. 

My name is Payton Spearin of East Millinocket. I am a four-year veteran of the Baxter Youth Conservation Corps and a 2020 graduate of Schenck High School. I come from a family of outdoorsmen and women and fishing is one of my biggest passions. Growing up with Baxter State Park practically in my backyard has helped to shape who I am today. I was always taking advantage of the many activities the park has to offer and never missed a chance to introduce someone to the park. During my conservation fellowship last summer, I studied entomology focusing on the different fly hatches throughout Baxter State Park, and how to fish them. During this summer's 6-week conservation fellowship, I will be focusing on the trees of Baxter State Park and the management practices, threats, and identification of the trees. The past 3 years with BYCC have been very rewarding, and I am looking forward to yet another great summer with this amazing program!

Hello, my name is Alex Jacobs. I'm from Millinocket and I am going into my senior year at Stearns High School. This is going to be my first year with BYCC. Just with the first week doing this program, I can just tell it will be an exciting summer! I have practically grown up in the outdoors whether it be with my parents or my grandparents. My biggest passions outdoors would probably be hunting or fishing and I would never have it any other way. In recent years I have been drawn to being in the outdoors and doing mostly off-trail/road hiking studying whitetail and trying to figure these amazing creatures out. This summer my main focus is going to be moose. My goal is to study and share information about moose, as well as share facts about winter ticks and how they affect the moose population.

My name is Jake Kowalski and I’m currently going into my Sophomore year of college at Liberty University in Virginia. I have a declared major in Digital Media with a video production focus. This year marks my 4th year with the BYCC program and I couldn’t be happier to return again. This summer I will be leaning on my photo and video skills to provide media for the program. Documenting previous work, BYCC Fellows in the field, and other captivating scenes in the park for you to enjoy.

My name is Silvia Hartt and I’m from Mount Chase, Maine. I recently graduated from Katahdin High School and will be attending the University of Maine for Wildlife Ecology. I hope to focus on Fisheries at college since this is a big interest of mine. My favorite things to do in Baxter are backpacking and swimming. This is my third year working with BYCC, but it’s not the only job I’ve had that pertains to my interests. This year I’ll be focusing on the fisheries plan that Baxter has and how it could be updated, and I’ll also be making a podcast by interviewing important people in the fish/Baxter world. I look forward to sharing these experiences with all of you!

The Baxter Youth Conservation Corps is a job training and service-learning opportunity for youth from the Katahdin region of Maine. Since 2017, this program has been hiring local youth for full-time summer employment doing trail work in Baxter State Park. Participants gain valuable training, job skills, and work experience in a spectacular wilderness setting. 

The BYCC Conservation Fellows program offers youth from the Katahdin Region the opportunity to pursue paid leadership and conservation work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Fellowships are offered to those with exemplary leadership skills, motivation, and career interests in the outdoor recreation, conservation, or environmental fields. 

photo by Elliot Shearer