Saco, ME – U.S. Senator Susan Collins visited The Ecology School to deliver remarks at a ceremony to celebrate a $14.1 million project at The Ecology School in Saco. The event was also attended by members of the community and representatives from Hancock Lumber, ReVision Energy, CEI, Camden National Bank, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Saco & Biddeford Savings Institution, Nestle Waters North America, and Poland Spring.
In 2017, The Ecology School purchased River Bend Farm, a historic 105-acre farm on the Saco River. Two years later, with the support of an $8.6 million U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development loan announced by Senators Collins and Angus King, The Ecology School began construction on a 9,000 square foot dormitory and a 7,000 square foot dining commons. Both facilities are being built to the specifications of The Living Building Challenge, a rigorous green building certification program. Upon completion, The Ecology School’s dormitory and dining commons will become some of the most sustainable buildings in the Northeast.
“The Ecology School is a special place, one that for more than two decades has enhanced the environmental ethic that defines our State of Maine,” said Senator Collins. “From a small overnight program for students, the school has grown to reach people of all ages with engaging learning opportunities in sustainable living. The River Bend Farm project takes this mission to a new level of conservation in action.”
“After the COVID-19 pandemic hit, my office worked with USDA to achieve needed repayment flexibility for The Ecology School,” Senator Collins continued. “I am also pleased that the school was able to obtain vital assistance through the Paycheck Protection Program I authored, as well as a Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loan.”
The Ecology School received a forgivable loan through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Senator Collins co-authored the PPP to help small employers stay afloat and continue paying their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since its launch in early April, more than 28,000 Maine small businesses and self-employed individuals have received nearly $2.3 billion in forgivable loans, helping to support more than 250,000 jobs throughout the state.
The Ecology School is a nonprofit ecology education center. Through hands-on, experiential programming, students of all ages learn to become stewards of the environment as they explore local forests, coastal ecosystems, and food systems. Since 1998, The Ecology School has hosted more than 187,000 students and teachers from across the country. In 2018, Senators Collins and King sent a letter in support of the ongoing projects at the Ecology School.