On Thursday, March 31, hundreds of people from around the state will converge on the Augusta Civic Center for the 2022 Maine Sustainability & Water Conference.

This year’s event, held from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be the first since 2019 at which conference attendees will gather in person to reconnect, exchange information and grow new collaborations to address sustainability and water resource challenges in Maine. The conference was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic and held virtually in 2021.

Judy East, director of the Bureau of Resource Information and Land Use Planning in the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, will deliver the conference keynote. In her talk, East will draw from her decades of experience living and working in rural communities to balance conservation and economic development needs. She will share strategies and stories of how we can work together and move from polarization to partnership.

The conference will feature 10 concurrent sessions spread between the morning and afternoon, with a full-day session focused on solid waste management. Other sessions include PFAS risks in Maine, rural health and sustainability, coastal resilience, tick-borne disease and more.

A poster competition where more than 30 of Maine’s most exceptional high school, undergraduate and graduate students present their research will also be held. Poster topics include the COVID-19 response in inland and coastal communities, use of biochar for wild blueberry crops, resilience in transitioning mill towns, microplastics, arsenic in well water and produce and much more.

The conference, organized by the Senator George J. Mitchell Center for Sustainability Solutions at the University of Maine, provides a forum for researchers, students, policymakers, community leaders and Maine citizens to present new findings and network with others involved with sustainability and water resource issues in Maine. Held for more than 25 years, the conference attracts hundreds of participants each year.

“This conference provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about and celebrate many inspiring efforts to create a brighter environmental, social and economic future in Maine,” says David Hart, Mitchell Center director. “By mixing science with passion and collaboration with resolve, the conference serves as an essential gathering place on the road to solutions.”

For more information and to register, visit the Mitchell Center website.