Last week, I went in front of the joint committee of the Environment and Natural Resources to provide testimony for my nomination to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund board. The only other time I had done this was when I testified in favor of Judy becoming Commissioner. This time, the Governor was nominating me. One of her representatives introduced me and then I had the opportunity to say a little about me. You can watch the hearing by clicking here. Joe’s introduction of me begins around the 7 minute marker. My testimony is below.
Senator Brenner, Representative Tucker and members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. My name is Erin Merrill and I am here to say a few words about my nomination to the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund board.
I want to share with you a little bit about why I am interested in this position, beyond what you read in the questionnaire.
When I shot my first deer, my grandfather gave me his rifle. When I shot a deer deep in the snowy woods, he came with the tractor to help my dad and I get it out. Two weeks ago, my grandfather passed away. In the hours that followed, we sat around sharing stories about years of hunting and random adventures in the woods. I want to help ensure that my kids and grandkids can have these same sort of stories and talk about watching a fisher walk by while they sit in a deer stand or being able to identify what type of feather they find in the woods or the excitement they felt when a fish grabbed their fly or understand how magical it is to be in the woods before sunrise and watch the woods wake up around you.
I was 20 when I started hunting with my dad. In that time, I have launched a website about my outdoor adventures, started writing for the Northwoods Sporting Journal and Drury Outdoors. I have been involved with local organizations like the Maine Wildlife Conservation Council and international conservation organizations like Blood Origins. And, I have co-founded an organization called Women of the Maine Outdoors, that offers scholarships to women and girls who want to advance their outdoor knowledge through classes like chainsaw safety, hiking and wilderness first aid, hunting, trapping and many women have become Registered Maine Guides after getting a scholarship to attend guide prep courses.
The significance of this position is not lost on me. My good friend, the late George Smith worked to create this fund and was a part of the board for the first 10 years of its existence. George and I spoke a lot about Maine’s wildlife and how it was going to be conserved and protected for our children and grandchildren. I had the privilege of being at the dedication when George donated the 125 acre Ezra Smith Wildlife Conservation area in Mount Vernon.
As more people get outside, go hiking, hunting, fishing and exploring the woods and waters of Maine, I am excited to be a part of helping to conserve and protect Maine’s outdoors.
I am honored to be considered for this position and represent sportsman and women on this board. I thank you for this opportunity and welcome any questions you may have.