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Senior Project Spotlight

  • Senior Projects

Freediving and Spearfishing in Barbados.

Describe the objective of your project.

One of the objectives of our project was to take the AIDA Level 2 Free Diving class to become free diving certified. We got this certification because another large portion of our project was to spearfish lionfish, which are an invasive species, and learn about them and their overall impact.

Sam's focus was the lionfish and their biology and impact, while James's focus was freediving and the impact of the lionfish.

What have been some of the highlights and/or memorable moments along the way?

One of the highlights was when Sam speared a massive 39 cm lionfish. It was the first fish we caught and was only 4 cm shy of the island record. We both ended up catching three lionfish each and Alex grabbed a few as well.

Another highlight was when James held his breath for 3 minutes and 20 seconds during his static apnea and then dove 67 ft deep. This was all during the AIDA course that we took.

Learning about the safety techniques was also very important because freediving is such a dangerous sport. We both learned how to properly protect each other when free diving and then also how to save someone if there was a problem.

What challenges did you face in completing your project?

One of the challenges we faced was equalizing. When diving deep, the pressure builds up every couple of feet so in order to neutralize the issue you have to "pop your ears." However the deeper you go, the harder it gets to pop. Thankfully we both were able to learn the different skills to equalize.

Another challenge was being able to hold our breath for a long period of time. Diving down deep, looking for lionfish, and trying to spear one requires a long breath hold, and it took a while to master this.

What did you learn along the way?

One of the top things we learned was the impact the lionfish have on the reefs and on the community of Barbados. The lionfish are eating large portions of marine life in the Caribbean, which is the fisheries in Barbados and the reefs.

Another interesting thing we learned was the ins and outs of safety while free diving. For example, we learned what to do if a person you are diving with blacks out.

What advice would you give to next year's seniors when the time comes for them to embark on their own projects?

Don't be afraid to try something new and push yourself. You only get to do one senior project so do something you are interested in and will really enjoy.

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  • Senior Projects

Learning the ropes with non-profit adventure education company Ripple Effect in Portland, ME.

Describe the objective of your project:

For my project, I worked with a non profit adventure education company called Rippleffect which operates out of Portland, Maine. I got to work on Cow Island which is an island they own and use for programming in Casco Bay. I helped them ready the Island for their summer season and did various tasks such as cleaning kayaks, gardening and sorting gear. I am very interested in this sort of career and wanted to get a better understanding of what goes into running a company in this field. I have participated in programs of this sort before but I didn't have first hand experience of what sort of work keeps these companies running.

What were some of the highlights?

One of the best parts of the project was that the other volunteers and I got to join in some of the guide training activities. We got to go on the zip line, kayak around Cow Island, and even participate in the medical scenario the year round staff set up for the seasonal guides to test their wilderness first responder knowledge. We had been doing a lot of manual labor up to that point so it was a refreshing break but also gave me a glimpse into what a Rippleffect program is like.

What are the top three things you've learned?

1. It takes a lot of dedicated people to keep an adventure education company running and to maintain the facilities. There are a lot of behind the scenes people who don't always get thanked properly but their job is equally important to the company's success.

2. Adventure educators are the most enthusiastic yet grounded people I will ever meet. They are experts at inclusivity, community building, leadership promoting, and manage to balance themselves perfectly with the rest of their group and community.

3. Even the most uninteresting tasks become a joy when you have people to share them with and a good reason for doing them.

What advice would you give to next year's seniors?

Don't settle for something that sounds easy. Go for a project that requires you to go somewhere or pushes your comfort zone. At the same time though, don't be afraid to continue with something you already know you love. Just try to look at it from a different angle.

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  • Senior Projects

The Art of Horse Training.

Describe the objective of your project.

My two main passions are horses and photography. I wanted to combine these in my senior project. I decided to follow horse trainer, teacher, and rider, Molly Kenney, and make a photo documentary including pictures of her and her horses and dogs. I was inspired to do this project because I love photographing nature and animals and I wanted to practice my photography. In addition, I had a lot to learn from Molly about horses and training.

What were some of the highlights?

The highlights of my project occurred when I captured a good moment or used Molly's advice in my own riding. It is a great feeling when I look at the camera and the lighting and composition are exactly how I want them to be. In addition, I enjoy trying something new in my riding and having it work.

What were some of the challenges you faced?

The main challenge I faced was the varying weather. Although it is interesting to take photographs in different weather conditions, on grey days, the photographs did not come out as well as I hoped they would.

What are the top three things you've learned?

1. how to tell a story through photography
2. learning more about training horses
3. how different angles and lighting affect my photography in a positive and negative way

What advice would you give to next year's seniors when the time comes for them to embark on their own projects?

My main piece of advice would be to do something you love or something you want to learn more about. These two weeks after classes are over are meant to continue learning and be enjoyable.

Photos by Isabelle Hoffman

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  • Senior Projects

Learning to fly with Boston Helicopters.

Cam Curley spent his senior project working with his flight instructor to pursue an official helicopter license. To culminate the project, Curley landed a helicopter on the Pingree football field with his instructor. A video of his landing is posted below, followed by an Q&A with Curley.

When did you first become interested in helicopters?

It was June of 2009. My dad did not want to wait in a five-hour line for the ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, so we found a place that gave helicopter tours and we flew over New York City and the Statue of Liberty. Ever since then I've been hooked.

What is your favorite thing to do while flying?

  • Autorotation: The action of landing the helicopter without the power of the engine and solely on the Rotor RPMs.
  • Quick Stops: The action of slowing down the helicopter quickly to prevent an accident by pulling back and descending the ground rapidly.
  • Run-On Landings: When there is not enough lift to complete a hover, you shallow the landing. You you hit the ground, you slide and let friction slow you down.

What do you enjoy most about flying?

One word: freedom. The view from the helicopter looking down is a lot better than the view from the ground looking up.

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  • Senior Projects

Interning at Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr's Office within the Massachusetts State House.

Describe the objective of your project.

Kanika and I interned at Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr's Office within the State House. Throughout our internship we had the goal of trying to see what happens behind the scenes of the MA Senate. We shadowed Pingree alumna Sira Grant, who holds the title of Deputy Legal Assistant within the office. Both of us are very interested in studying politics during our four years of college and we're very interested in seeing the work that gets done at a local level in dealing with legislative work.

What were some of the highlights?

One of the most memorable moments was being allowed to sit behind Senator Bruce Tarr on the Floor of the Senate during a session. The Senate was debating the Budget for Fiscal Year 2017 and the debates and discussions were getting intense throughout the week. Kanika and I had the opportunity to witness these debates first hand and see how bills and amendments are debated at this stage. It was also funny because every time Senator Tarr would speak, the public television camera would cut to him and Kanika and I would be in the background of the image! Also, a staff member in the office asked us to create a info-infographic for one of the amendments that Senator Tarr was proposing and after a few hours of researching and editing, the senator loved our work and posted it to his twitter page to advocate for the amendment!

What challenges did you face?

The office was very busy the weeks that we were there and they truly needed interns to help with the run of things. Because of this, Kanika and I had to work the front desk and phones of the office for a lot of the time we were working with the Senator. While doing this, we were faced with the responsibility of answering all the phone calls of the angry constituents that wanted to get their opinions across to the Senator. We were a little awkward with it at first so it was difficult staying confident while talking to these people, but after a few hours it became easier. While this was a challenge at first, Kanika and I overcame it and became quite smooth on the phone with the constituents and other State House employees.

What are the top three things you learned?

While we have absorbed so much during our time here at the State House, it's hard to narrow it down to three things, but we'll give it a try.

1. Constituents are REALLY involved — Kanika and I had no idea that there are so many people that call and advocate each and every day for their district and what they think should or should not become law, even when it's at such a small level.

2. It was clear to us that many of our peers, including the two of us at the beginning, don't necessarily understand the far-reaching implications on everyday life that the bills and amendments the Senate is debating really have on our society. It was very interesting to see this as time went on within the office.

3. Throughout our time, Kanika and I gained so much experience talking with adults and constituents that have high ranking positions in and outside of the State House. The skills that we acquired during these two weeks will no doubt reach much further than a governmental position. We can take what we've learned and apply it to many jobs outside of the State House doors, which is so beneficial to us as we mature and embark into the "real world".

What advice would you give to next year's seniors?

The Pingree Senior Project is an incredible opportunity for you to really dive into any field that you think that you might be interested in pursuing when you're older. Our advice would be to take it seriously and to really try and explore a true passion. By experiencing a field of interest first hand, you can either decide that it is something for you, or not something that you see yourself doing when you're older, both of which are beneficial! And most importantly just have fun with whatever you do!

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  • Senior Projects

Interning with Dana Farber Cancer Center.

Describe the objective of your project. What inspired you to pursue this idea?

The objective of my project was to help make treatment for pediatric cancer patients easier. I was able to do this by playing with them and keeping them happy while they were waiting to be treated. I pursued this idea because after college I intend to pursue a career in medicine. I thought this would be a good first step into the medical world.

What were some of the highlights?

Just hearing the kids laugh and smile. It feels great to know I made a positive difference in a person's life.

What challenges did you face in completing your project?

All the patients are for the most part younger children with cancer. The first couple of days that was hard, but after that it got a bit easier. It was hard to see innocent young children with such serious medical condition.

What are the top three things you've learned?

1) Always stay smiling
2) Don't be afraid to have a little fun
3) Be open and try to talk to everyone

Might this be the beginning of a new passion for you? Please explain.

I would say yes, but I've had this passion really since I've entered Pingree. It's more of an extension of a passion.

What advice would you give to next year's seniors when the time comes for them to embark on their own projects?

Even if you think your project is a stretch go for it. I had no idea I'd be able to volunteer at a place as well known as Dana Farber, so people shouldn't be afraid to out for a reach of a project. Also, make sure you're doing something you enjoy. The two weeks flew by since I was having so much fun.

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