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September / October 2004

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UMaine Today Magazine

Student Focus

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Reuben Caron

Elizabeth Munding
Photo courtesy of
Elizabeth Munding

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Reuben Caron knows firsthand what laptop computers mean to Maine schoolchildren. As a technology consultant for eight Aroostook County school districts, the University of Maine electrical engineering technology major saw middle school students, who had never used a computer, become overjoyed at their first touch of a keyboard.

During his four years at UMaine, Caron helped the state's pioneering laptop initiative to level the learning field for students without computer access at home. He created a computer network for the eight districts, providing online access to more than 2,000 students and 400 teachers.

Reuben graduated May 8 and headed for a job with the Putney School in Vermont as a network operations manager.

As a student engineer, Caron provided information technology (IT) support for UMaine's Electrical Engineering Technology Program. He also designed and installed computer systems for department labs and for UMaine's Advanced Manufacturing Center.

Caron learned the fine points of technology sales and management working for the Computer Connection, UMaine's technology purchasing unit. He took academic courses in management information systems, computer programming and electrical networks.

Working with the University of Maine System's computer network (UNET) and Apple Computer, Caron conducted nightly backup operations for the state's middle school laptop network. He found himself working in the dead of night after daily traffic on the statewide school network had died down.

In 2003, his summer job with Kannon Communications Inc., in New Gloucester, Maine, involved consulting with businesses throughout New England on their network needs. All the while, he continued to provide services to the Maine Laptop Initiative.

In the long term, Caron hopes to start his own technology consulting business in Maine. "Some of my friends and I are all going out on our own right now, but once we build up our experience, we may come back together as a group. We know there are exciting possibilities out there."

Telling Tourism's Story

Elizabeth Munding likes a good story, especially if it involves nature and wildlife.

As a journalist, she sought out people whose lives intertwined with woods and water, and on vacations, she visited state and national parks to learn more about the environment. While at the University of Maine for a master's degree in parks, recreation and tourism, she spent two weeks on Matinicus Rock off the Maine coast volunteering in the National Audubon Society's Project Puffin. She also worked as a park ranger at Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Now the Iowa native is putting her storytelling skills and love of nature to work for Maine's diverse tourism industry. "I hope to give tourism a higher profile in the state as our No. 1 industry," she says.

Working with Wilbur LaPage, associate professor of forest recreation, and with support from the Maine Tourism Commission's Natural Resources Committee, Munding has interviewed more than 40 people with direct and indirect interests in tourism. She has talked to forest landowners, managers of white-water rafting companies, owners of bed and breakfast inns, and state tourism officials.

For her master's thesis, she will analyze their points of view, and develop recommendations and guidelines to take advantage of the growing international interest in nature-based tourism.

Consistent themes running through her discussions include the need for a statewide database for tourism businesses to find opportunities in training, grants and research; rural economic development plans that target tourism-related businesses; and strategies to market Maine's nationally significant experiences and resource qualities.

For example, certification of "green businesses" might guide customers in making tourism choices, even before they get to the state, Munding says.

For state policy, an important issue is the balance between natural resource protection and use of those same resources for business purposes, she says.

Munding's work and the Maine Tourism Commission's focus on nature-based tourism grew out of an initiative promoted in 2003 by Rep. Sean Faircloth of Bangor, Maine. He suggested that Maine look at ways to enhance opportunities for the public to see wildlife, particularly birds.


UMaine Today Magazine
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