When you think of life sciences, tourism might be the last thing that comes to mind, but the two are more connected than you might suspect! Maine’s natural wonders, its wildlife, and its ecology are the very things that people come to Maine to enjoy. Together, tourism and life sciences can preserve our important natural resources for generations to come. 


For example, lobsters are a huge part of our state’s identity, and to preserve this natural resource that these crustaceans provide, we must understand their biology and ecological habitats. In order to make the Maine lobster industry one of the most sustainable in the world, fisheries have partnered with scientific and environmental organizations and their wildlife conservation experts to adapt the techniques, equipment, and practices most needed to meet evolving ecological needs. Marine biologists at the Maine Department of Marine Resources have been monitoring and assessing Maine’s lobster populations for over 40 years, and the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine has been a center of discovery, innovation and outreach since 1987. Maine's abundant fisheries provide other economic benefits, as well. Aquaculture farmers throughout Maine grow and harvest shellfish, fin fish, and sea vegetables. Tourism is a popular way for these farmers to diversify their income by offering tours on their boats and, through relationships with tour operators, restaurant owners and innkeepers, market their products to Maine's many visitors.


Additionally, ecotourism and sustainability are becoming increasingly important in the industry, and the career opportunities in this area are growing rapidly. Environmental educators lead tours and provide in-depth knowledge about local flora, fauna, and ecosystems, educating tourists about biodiversity, conservation efforts, and the importance of preserving natural environments. In Acadia National Park and all of Maine’s 48 state parks, park and forest rangers protect and manage natural resources, enforce regulations, provide visitor assistance, and facilitate educational and recreational experiences in the outdoors. 


Within Maine’s many parks and wildlife refuges, biologists conduct research, monitor habitats, and develop conservation strategies for Maine’s animal population, making these locations popular attractions for visitors. Additionally, the revenue gained from visitors for entrance, campground, and permit fees is an important funding stream that allows these venues to continue their scientific operations. 


Maine is also home to many popular and beautiful garden attractions that are maintained by horticulturalists, who care for the plants in the garden, such as managing their cultivation, propagation, pruning, and maintenance, and arborists, who specialize in the care and maintenance of trees. Walk down the main street of any of Maine’s picturesque downtowns, or go into one of the state’s hundreds of hotels, or stroll the grounds of any museum in Maine, and you’ll see that the landscaping, potted plants, and other manicured plant life make the whole area more inviting to locals and visitors alike. None of this would be possible without teams of landscapers and gardeners on the job. 


Farming is a big deal in Maine, and agritourism is a form of business that links agricultural production and/or processing with tourism to attract visitors onto a farm, ranch, or other agricultural business in order to entertain or educate visitors while also generating income for the farm or ranch. Farm-to-table restaurants, farmer’s markets, u-pick operations, agricultural fairs and festivals, winery tours, hay rides, corn mazes–Maine has it all! Farm managers keep these operations running smoothly, and many individuals are self-employed farmers doing this kind of work.


These all might seem pretty obvious, but one place you might not expect the life sciences to turn up is in the field of sports management. However, it’s actually a vital part of outdoor sport locations. Baseball, soccer, golf, and football are all played on grounds that must be carefully maintained, and it’s the job of the turf manager to make sure the playing field is healthy and in good condition for the good of the game. That might sound simple, but it’s a highly scientific task, and these professionals often are required to pursue four-year Bachelor of Science degrees to qualify for the job! 


Overall, the connection between life sciences and tourism in Maine is poised to grow even stronger in the future. Maine's natural wonders will continue to captivate tourists, ensuring  the need for ongoing collaboration between both industries  as we work to preserve these invaluable resources for future generations.