At the meeting, the students served as scribes for the event and wrote down all of the ideas that the community had offered. “By getting involved in observing or, better yet, serving on a project, students will gain a greater understanding of how important it is to stand up and work towards making our communities better places,” said Deborah King, Unity College Instructor in the Center for Natural Resource Management and Protection and teacher of the class said.
King believes that this experience will enhance her students’ skills in communication, leadership management, and conflict resolution. “Unity is a terrific place to practice building these skills. The town leadership has expressed an open eagerness to collaborate with students, who might have new ideas and energy to contribute to community projects,” King added. This event also helped students gain a better understanding of how local government is run. “It was a great experience not only for the class but for me as a citizen to get involved with the community,” said Andrew Slack ’17 Wildlife Biology. “It was very informative and overall there was a very good turnout.” He also added that getting the school involved in the community creates relevant opportunities for students to have experience working with town officials, and may be able to apply these opportunities to their future careers.
John Karyczak ’16 Environmental Policy, Law and Society agreed that the town meeting was a way for him to understand politics at a more local level, an opportunity that he had not previously experienced. “This was an opportunity that gave me more of a personal connection with the town, and an investment of time and concern,” said John Karyczak ’16 Environmental Policy, Law and Society. He added that the residents of Unity really seem to be invested in their community and care about what goes on. His experience with government was limited to big cities until he saw the connection of the people of Unity to their town.
“The residents of Unity are economically and personally invested in the town, causing them to get involved in any way possible and help create a thriving place to live,” Karyczak said. “If we can expand our knowledge and awareness of governance in a way that engages people to become actively involved, we can build more resilient and sustainable communities together,” said King.