Last Monday, the Brunswick Town Council unanimously approved a new year-long position on the Brunswick Conservation Commission specifically for Bowdoin students. The position builds on another student committee position added to the Town Commons committee this summer, which is held by Charlotte Iannone ’26.
Charlotte Tagupa ’26 filled the new Conservation Commission position this October. Tagupa reached out to the Conservation Commission herself, prompting the process of changing the municipal town ordinances to secure a position on the committee for Bowdoin students in the future.
The municipal ordinance change was introduced by Councilor Sande Updegraph, who represents Town District Four, the area west of downtown Brunswick along Route 1.
“We’ve had the second Bowdoin student step up wanting to volunteer on a town committee. This is extraordinary,” Updegraph said in the town council meeting on September 18, introducing this ordinance change.
The commission’s hope is that this will encourage similar ordinance changes in other Brunswick Town Council committees that would allow for more Bowdoin students to take on positions on said committees.
“This current student is driving the initiative, but I think it has universal application,” Updegraph said. “[The student liaison position] opens the door [to] other committees for other students who may want to be involved.”
Tagupa was interested in joining the committee because of her prior experience working in the conservation commission in her hometown of Norwich, Vt.
“Originally I was just going to join the commission directly, which is what I did when I joined it in high school,” Tagupa said. “But they didn’t have space. They had wanted to create this role for a while, so now it’s a little special in that sense.”
Both Iannone and Tagupa bring their perspectives as Bowdoin students to their respective committees and help where they can.
Primarily, Iannone has assisted the Town Commons committee with reviewing and planning events that people request, ranging from bike races to planned hikes to trail clean up days.
Iannone previously worked on her hometown’s historical society, and she says it was a similar experience to working with older residents to help plan events.
One of her main contributions includes introducing effective ways to advertise events for all ages—not just people over 40. This means utilizing social media and other technological avenues to get the word out about Town Commons events.
Similarly, in high school, Tagupa worked with local community members to bring a younger perspective to the board and collaborate with her school, two ideas she also hopes to bring to this committee.
Tagupa had her first meeting with the committee on October 4. The responsibilities of her position are still uncertain, considering the newness of the role.
“Moving forward, we’ll figure out what kind of responsibilities we’ll give to this position, but for right now we are still figuring that out, considering the position was created on Monday,” Brunswick Environmental Planner Ashley Charleson said during the committee meeting.
The commission hopes to specifically focus on getting the word out about the upcoming changes to the Climate Action Plan.
The committee recently released a form for Brunswick residents to fill out to express their opinions about the plan.
At the meeting, the commission also discussed harmful chemicals Brunswick residents may use in their yards and look to start a campaign to educate people about alternative practices. Tagupa is interested in helping to coordinate work days for town residents to go to areas to get rid of invasive species.
She also hopes to get to know the members of the commission better and learn more about their involvement in Brunswick conservation efforts.
“I would love to engage with everyone on the commission outside of the meeting times and learn about what brought them there, their relationship to Brunswick and how long they’ve been here. Just learning from them as we go,” Tagupa said.
The student liaison positions on the Brunswick Conservation Commission and Town Commons committee will be open to students in upcoming years.
Charlotte Tagupa is a member of the Bowdoin Orient.
Editor’s Note October 16, 2023 at 2:30 p.m.: An earlier version of this article wrongfully reported that the student position added this summer was in the Town Council. The added position was in the Town Commons committee, not the general Town Council.