Student Spotlight: Jaelee Vanidestine

Hometown: Orrington, Maine

After graduating with a marine science degree from Maine Maritime Academy, Jaelee Vanidestine headed to Alaska, where she collected data for commercial stock assessments for the International Pacific Halibut Commission. Seeking additional knowledge and skills, Vanidestine returned to Maine to earn a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) degree in marine sciences.

“I applied to the University of Maine because it has a prestigious School of Marine Sciences and I wanted to work with communities in my home state. I’m working with a group of oyster aquafarmers to help establish bylaws for an aquaculture cooperative in Georgetown, Maine. Last summer, I worked at Harborside General Store in Georgetown, which allowed me to better immerse myself in the community while conducting interviews with stakeholders. The group comes from a variety of backgrounds — including lobstering and clam digging. This opportunity allows them to diversify economically and gives young people a reason to stay in Georgetown. This community is unique in that its residents have come together to help create a more sustainable future through community-based aquaculture and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to work with them. The aquaculture cooperative will provide shared resources for the farmers, including equipment, facilities, lease sites, branding, marketing, distribution and economy of scale. After earning my degree, I hope to work with an NGO or government agency to help solve resource-related issues.”