From Passion to Action

Jessica Scott ’08 is working for the planet — from the state of Maine
by Nicole Gull McElroy ’00

JESSICA SCOTT ’08, doesn’t do anything halfway. In addition to working as senior climate adviser in the Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, she’s also spending her summer moonlighting as a crew member aboard a historic schooner to get a crash course in sailing. “It feels appropriate,” says Scott, a New Hampshire native who moved to Maine two years ago. “Everyone here is a boat person or is boat-adjacent. I thought I should embrace the cultural history of this place.”

Scott’s intensity is fueled by a work ethic and an interest in leaving things better than she found them. While studying animal behavior at Bucknell, Scott began pulling strings on her career in environmental policy. She helped establish the Bucknell Center for Sustainability & the Environment and was responsible for getting solar panels installed on the building that houses the center. She was also key in orchestrating a daylong teach-in on climate change.

Portrait photograph of Jessica Scott '08 in a dark pale tan beanie, dark tan jacket, forest green shirt, black pants, and dark brown leather boots holding onto the leashes of two dogs (a brown pit bull & a black/white swiss shepherd) in Rockport Harbor, Maine during the day
Photo: Amanda Dwelley
Jessica Scott ’08, pictured in Rockport Harbor, Maine, is helping the state carry out its climate action plan.
In her job, Scott is intimately involved in executing the state’s first climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait. The plan, she says, has set a framework to “pave the road for meaningful climate action in Maine.” The state has set goals in terms of clean energy use, clean energy job creation, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, increased land conservation, heat pump installations, home weatherization and more. With more than 90% of the state covered in forest, 3,500 miles of coastline and more than 2,000 square miles of inland water, Mainers are tethered to an understanding and appreciation for the environment. “When we talk about climate change, it’s impactful here,” she says.

That’s why Scott sees Maine as an inflection point for so much of what’s happening in climate policy across the country. It’s also why she finds working on the state level so powerful. “I see how policies we make actually change lives around me,” she says. “I call Maine one big small town because that’s how it feels. Doing this work, it feels like I’m doing it for my neighbors. And that is exactly the right way for me to have an impact.”