Greg LeClair

Oak Hill High School, 2014
Unity College, 2018
Current town: Waterville

Photo Credit: Greta Rybus

“Taking advantage of opportunities usually only opens more doors, and usually never closes them.”

Greg realized this advice to be true while studying Wildlife Biology at Unity College. He found that getting his name out there paid off in rewarding ways, including a recent article in the New York Times detailing his work on salamander migration in Maine. He grew up on his family’s property of 100 acres of woods surrounded by chickens, horses, hermit crabs, and turtles. This undoubtedly led to his interest in zoology and his success in becoming the first in his family to attain a bachelor’s degree.

What are you doing currently?
I’m working towards my master's at the University of Maine in ecology and environmental science, specifically herpetology. That’s the branch of zoology concerned with reptiles and amphibians. I’m particularly interested in environmental DNA which is a tool for biologists to detect the presence of hard to find animals. Improving the capabilities of the tool could have a big impact on detecting poaching, and I am passionate about making wildlife enforcement more efficient. After graduate school I’d like to work for the government or a nonprofit doing wildlife conservation research.

How are you having an impact on your community, through leadership roles or otherwise?
In 2018, while at Unity, I started Big Night Maine, a statewide network of over 100 citizen scientists who help amphibians cross roads and count them in the process. This year, with the pandemic and reduced traffic, we saw a much higher survival rate of salamanders and frogs in Maine. The New York Times ran a story about this project, and I am glad to have been able to raise the profile of this issue. I am passionate about making a difference in the bigger picture. The Mitchell Institute provided the opportunity for me to get through college, and I feel I am paying that forward by helping out my community.