For more than a decade, 7 Lakes Alliance has partnered with Colby College to better understand the ecology of the Belgrade Lakes watershed and to develop exceptional research, education, innovative approaches, and guidance for the community.
The 7 Lakes Alliance and Colby College partnership provides students with real-world experience, a research laboratory, field station, conference space, and teaching resources. A multidisciplinary team of Colby faculty across disciplines, including, biology, chemistry, economics, geology, and social sciences, collaborate with 7 Lakes Alliance to engage citizens, lake associations, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and others in studying and protecting the Belgrade Lakes region.
According to Dr. Danielle Wain, Lake Science Director at 7 Lakes, “Science and community are the cornerstones of our work to restore and protect our lands and waters.”
A cadre of Colby students work throughout the academic year and during the summer to help support 7 Lakes Alliance’s conservation strategies throughout the watershed. Colby interns gain valuable practical experience as they work to promote environmental stewardship practices to sustain healthy, vibrant lakes. Chemistry student Grady Florance, Class of ’24 shared: “Being able to actually apply what we’ve learned in school to the greater Maine community by working on the lakes has been really fulfilling.”
With training from 7 Lakes’s Dr. Danielle Wain and her fellow Lake Scientist, Lizzy Gallagher, six Colby students worked this summer on all seven lakes to help determine current conditions. In just ten weeks, the students collected 600+ water samples for nutrient analysis, processed 75 algae samples via the Flowcam Cyano, 7 Lakes’s new state-of-the-art algal imaging system, to determine algal levels in the lakes, and took over 110 water clarity readings. The students also worked on individual research projects. Topics ranged from nutrient analysis, using big data to predict a certain type of algal bloom, the use of AI in predicting water clarity, alum treatment research (sediment, zooplankton and user impacts), algal technology comparisons and more! Students honed their science communication skills at each of the boat launches, conversing about the lakes with community members.
The good health of the lands and the waters of the Belgrade Lakes region supports the economic infrastructure of the area. Dr. Danielle Wain added, “A healthy watershed benefits everyone in our community by supporting local commerce, recreation and tourism.” Most importantly, these students continue a conservation legacy to ensure a healthy Belgrade Lakes region for generations to come.
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