Stop and Smell the Milkweed: SJC’s new Pollinator Garden!

Stop and Smell the Milkweed: SJC’s new Pollinator Garden!

Since its founding, Saint Joseph’s College of Maine has been committed to education as a means for both personal and social transformation. As an institution sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, we seek to educate our students through classes and experiences that bring them face-to-face with a planet and people in need. A recent example of this type of education is reflected in Saint Joseph’s recent addition: The Pollinator Garden Project.

The garden began as an idea from SJC’s Community and Sustainability Engaged (CASE) Scholars when they researched the decline of pollinators in Maine for their presentation at the Terra Matters Climate Summit, held at USM in 2018. With donations, multiple grants, a group of fourth graders from Riverton School in Portland, and a beehive of campus support, the Pollinator Garden is now a part of our College campus.

Student and CASE Scholar Caleb Gravel was a key member of a large, interdepartmental team working on The Pollinator Garden Project on campus. A senior majoring in environmental science and double minoring in biology and sustainability studies, Caleb described why he cares about this project, “I’m passionate about making a spot, a safe space to conserve a species. I want to pursue conservation biology and help provide species with safe living spaces. I want to ensure that species are not going extinct.”

Photo credit: SJC Staff Maya Atlas

Saint Joseph’s College is the 73rd educational institution in the nation and the first in Maine to be certified as one of the affiliates of the Bee Campus USA program. This is a certification program that seeks to stabilize campus landscapes as ideal habitats for pollinators such as bees, hummingbirds, butterflies, and more. The garden is tended by Professor Emeritus and Master Gardener Sue Kelly and campus community volunteers. If the project proceeds as planned, local seniors from the community will also have an opportunity to engage with the garden over the summer.

The Pollinator Garden is not only a beautiful place to stop and smell the roses (or in this case, the milkweed), it’s a place for the SJC campus and larger community to engage with the natural environment in an educational and informative way. As this “living laboratory” continues to develop, it will serve as a sustainability makerspace for research, innovation, and a beautiful place to visit to learn about the vital role of pollinators in our local food systems.

Photo credit: SJC Staff Maya Atlas

To see more about Caleb Gravel’s role in making the Pollinator Garden a reality, please visit The Pollinator Garden Project article in Saint Joseph’s College Magazine.

Go Green and Go Home!

Go Green and Go Home!

As students are leaving Saint Joe’s for the summer, there’s something that isn’t: their stuff. This year the EcoReps have taken it upon themselves to collect donated goods from students moving out of the dorms and distributing those goods to local charities and non-profits, including GoodWill, Pink Feather, and the Standish Food Pantry. Combined, the EcoReps and their advisor, Energy Efficiency Coordinator, Heather Craig, have spent 115 hours over the past month collecting, sorting, and bringing items to organizations. The amount of donated items was staggering – many trips had to be made to each charitable organization.

The 2018 – 2019 EcoReps

EcoReps President Rachel Bruns and EcoReps Advisor Heather Craig taking a van full of donated items to GoodWill.

EcoReps President, Rachel Bruns, has held on to many of the items in the hopes of starting a free Monk’s Market next year. Students, staff, and faculty, could ‘shop’ at the market for free goods to decorate their offices or dorm rooms, and would be able to donate their own goods at any time.

Donated items that will be kept to start Monk’s Market.

Monk’s Market will encourage students to choose secondhand items, reducing their carbon footprint and promoting a shared community. Keep an eye out for more information on Monk’s Market!

The Sustainability Festival was a huge success!

The Sustainability Festival was a huge success!

Last Thursday was a bee-utiful day for the Sustainability Festival! The sun was shining, the bees were buzzing, baby goats were bleating – all to the delight of the over 350 attendees! Here are a few highlights from the festival:


Live performance by the Burnurwurbskek Singers

Tom Halstead from Allagash Brewing Co and Ali Mediate of Maine FoodScapes

SJC student with her new plant

Center for Sustainable Communities intern discussing the pollinator garden with SJC students

SJC students with bunnies from November’s Harvest

Farmer Myke and his babies

Plants from Old Wells Farm

SJC student adds her handprint to the Eco Reps mural

And of course, the debut of the SJC Pollinator Garden was a hit! As the festival adrenaline starts to wear down, please remember that a pollinator garden does NOT increase your chance of getting stung. Pollinator gardens attract many different pollinators, including butterflies, moths, beetles, and hummingbirds – not all of these little guys sting! Also, many bees will not sting you – no male bees sting, and many native Maine bees won’t sting because they are too small or don’t have a hive to defend. And finally, a feeding bee is a happy bee! For this reason, planting flowers WON’T increase your chances of getting stung. If you haven’t already, go check out the garden on the way to the lake!

Get Ready for Earth Week!

Get Ready for Earth Week!

Easter break is this weekend, which means lots of family time, Easter eggs, and overeating. After all the excess, it will be time to get back to basics and celebrate Earth Week! This year, Earth Day is Monday, April 22. While we won’t be able to celebrate Earth Day as a campus, there will be plenty of activities throughout Earth Week to get back in touch with your granola side.

Tuesday, April 23 at 4pm, Pause for Prayer: Care for the Earth in Healy Chapel. Celebrate God’s creation with the Mercy Center!

On Wednesday, April 24 at 6pm in the Auditorium, the CH245 Environmental Chemistry class, in conjunction with the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Lakes Environmental Association, Bridgton Books and the Green Store are hosting a screening of Bag It! The class will present results from a study of microplastics in the Presumpscot River. There will be door prizes!





Join the Ecoreps for Craft Night and Adopt a Plant on Wednesday, April 24 at 8pm in the Heff! You can bring your own container to decorate, or the Eco-reps will provide one for you. Containers can include old mugs, glass jars, old candle holders, whatever you want!


And to cap off the week, everyone’s favorite festival will be Thursday, April 25 from 11am-2pm! Come play a game of corn-hole with the Health & Wellness Club, get a re-usable straw from the Eco-reps, sample Urban Farm & Fermentory kombucha, and so much more at the Sustainability Festival!


The Sustainability Festival is quickly approaching!

The Sustainability Festival is quickly approaching!

Join us for Flower Power: Sustainability in Action and the debut of our very own Pollinator Garden on Thursday, April 25th from 11:00 to 2:00!

During the festival you will have the chance to…

Pet baby bunnies and goats from November’s Harvest

Sample delicious food from local vendors

Meet a beekeeper & learn about honeybees in Maine



See the Burnurwurbskek Singers live from 11:30am-12:00pm

Learn about local sustainable organizations

Outside vendors will include ReVision Energy, Allagash Brewery, ecomaine, November’s Harvest, Go Maine, Maine FoodScapes, Agri-Cycle, Dental Lace, MaineShare, Wood & Sons, Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship, Saco River Farms, Loon Echo Land Trust, Maine Conservation Voters, and Old Wells Farm. Many Saint Joseph College departments, clubs, and organizations will also have booths at the festival. Come say hi and learn about Sustainability in Action!

If your organization is interested in having a booth at the festival, please contact Heather Craig at