Liz Thorndike

Fish + Game Changers

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is about so much more than fish + game, with leaders on every level changing the face of conservation and blazing new trails for a better Maine outdoors. This podcast takes you behind the scenes, exploring the unique and diverse work done by department staff across the state. Listen in to learn why these game changers love what they do, and what drives them to apply their time and talent to the Maine outdoors.

Meet the host: Emily MacCabe

Emily is the Director of Information and Education at Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and has dedicated her career to connecting others to the Maine outdoors. Growing up in Maine, she has spent many years enjoying outdoor recreational activities in the woods and on the water across the state. Her passion for storytelling and curious nature bring to light the ways in which we can all play a role in ensuring that our natural resources are here for many generations to come.

Available wherever you listen to podcasts, or stream below.

Spotify Podcasts Spotify Podcasts Spotify Podcasts

SEASON SEVEN: In the Field

Fish and Game Changers is back with a new host! Join Emily MacCabe and go behind the scenes with staff from Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. In season seven, Emily celebrates Endangered Species Day, chats with biologists about ways the public can avoid finding themselves in conflict with wildlife, learns more about what it takes to become a Maine Game Warden, and shares some exciting news about a new podcast series with Corporal Kris MacCabe.

July 14, 2023

Episode 9: Private for Public with Corporal Kris MacCabe

In the final episode of season 7, Emily talks with Game Warden Corporal Kris MacCabe to take a deeper look at the delicate and often complicated tradition of public access to private land in Maine. Kris is one of two Corporals within Maine Warden Service who focus on landowner relations, providing support to private landowners across the state, and helping to educate and inspire outdoor users of all types to be responsible and appreciative private land users.

Listen in and then learn more at

July 7, 2023

Episode 8: One in Four Birds Lost in Less Than a Single Lifetime

Since 1970 North America has lost 2.9 billion breeding adult birds. However, surveys show that many people are not aware of this decline or the fact that they can easily contribute to the solution.

In this episode Emily sits down with Wildlife Biologist Adrienne Leppold to discuss how we can help protect Maine's birds right in our own backyards. Adrienne shares valuable information on bird conservation, and highlights some of the specific challenges facing North America's bird populations.

Listen in and learn how you can help #BringBirdsBack

June 30, 2023

Episode 7: Tagging and Tracking Fish on Mooselookmeguntic Lake with Fisheries Biologist Liz Thorndike

In this episode of Fish + Game Changers, Emily joins Fisheries Biologist Liz Thorndike on a tagging mission on Mooselookmeguntic Lake to learn more about the spawning behavior of wild brook trout and landlocked salmon.

Liz, with years of experience under her belt, takes us through the intricate process of tagging and implanting radio transmitters in brook trout and landlocked salmon. She also shares some insights into the importance of community support and involvement. We learn how studying the movement of these fish during their reproductive season can help biologists better understand their habitats and ultimately protect them from various threats.

Learn more about freshwater fisheries management in Maine at

June 23, 2023

Episode 6: The Journey to Becoming a Maine Game Warden with Game Warden Mindy Rugg

In this episode Emily heads into the field to meet with newly hired Game Warden Mindy Rugg. Mindy shares her experience navigating the lengthy hiring and training process with the Maine Warden Service, discussing what kept her inspired and motivated, even when she faced unexpected challenges and roadblocks.

Learn more at

June 16, 2023

Episode 5: Exploring a Career as a Maine Game Warden with Sergeant Kyle Hladik

In this episode, Emily sits down with Game Warden Sergeant Kyle Hladik to discuss how an experience he had as a young child growing up in the Maine outdoors led him to his career and inspired him to take a personalized approach to recruiting new game wardens. They discuss what makes candidates stand out in the hiring pool, and how the Department is actively engaging with potential recruits to understand their needs and goals. They also talk about the importance of being able to connect with potential applicants on a more personal level, and the value of having a diverse team of highly qualified and skilled staff in the Warden Service.

Learn more at

June 9, 2023

Episode 4: Maine’s Blue State Parks with Chief Planner Diano Circo

There are hundreds of sites across the state that provide public access to many of Maine's 6,000 lakes and ponds and 32,000 miles of rivers and streams. Have you ever wondered how these public access sites are acquired, constructed or maintained? In this episode, Emily talks with MDIFW's Chief Planner Diano Circo to find out more about the development of public water access sites in the state and takes a little field trip to a newly renovated site just outside of the center of Augusta.

June 2, 2023

Episode 3: The Bears Are Back In Town with Wildlife Biologist Jen Vashon

Maine is home to the largest population of black bears in the eastern United States and when natural food sources are scarce in the spring it sometimes leads them into backyards in search of an easy meal such as bird feeders, garbage, grills and pet foods. 

In this episode, Emily talks with wildlife biologist Jen Vashon about some of the ways we can all prevent conflicts or negative encounters with one of Maine's most iconic species.

Learn more at

May 26, 2023

Episode 2: Mom’s Away, But I’m Okay! With Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay

You found a deer fawn all alone... now what?

In this episode, Emily talks with Wildlife Biologist Scott Lindsay to discuss the normal and natural behavior of female white-tailed deer (doe) during the spring season when they give birth to their young (fawn). Listen in to learn a little more about our wonderful white-tails and how to S.P.O.T. a fawn in need of help!

Learn more about dealing with orphaned or injured fawns at

May 19, 2023

Episode 1: Endangered Species in Maine with Wildlife Biologist Alex Fish

Season 7 of Fish + Game Changers kicks off with a conversation about Maine’s Endangered and Threatened Species in Maine. Host Emily MacCabe is joined by wildlife biologist Alex Fish to discuss the state of endangered and threatened species in Maine and how listeners can make small changes in their own backyards that could have positive impacts on some of Maine's most vulnerable species.

Meet the host of seasons 1-6: Katie Yates

Katie’s interest in conservation and outdoor storytelling first came about while working as a Park Ranger at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas where, against the backdrop of 46,000 acres of Chihuahuan desert, Katie would present history, legends, and lore to visitors. Originally from upstate New York, Katie moved to Maine in 2018, and has since sought to experience everything the state has to offer. From ice fishing to turkey hunting, this former vegetarian is fully embracing life the Maine way.

SEASON SIX: In the Field

Host Katie Yates goes behind the scenes with Department staff across the state. In season six, she meets up with a fisheries biologist in the Grand Lake Stream region, chats with the state’s deer biologist, checks out a hatchery with a fish culturist, learns why a landowner relations corporal is so passionate about keeping Maine open for recreation, goes behind the scenes with the busy licensing division, and talks about snakes and turtles with a wildlife biologist.

July 19, 2021

Episode 5: Making a Difference with Landowner Relations Corporal Rick LaFlamme

For Maine Game Warden and Landowner Relations Corporal Rick LaFlamme, supporting Maine's landowners is a privilege. In this Season 6 finale, Rick describes Maine's unique Landowner Relations Program, educating the public on how to be good land users, working with landowners to preserve outdoor recreation opportunities, picking up millions of pounds of litter, and why he's passionate about this work.

July 12, 2021

Episode 4: Hello from a Fish Hatchery

Katie chats with Fish Culturist Ashley O'Neal. Ashley describes her daily routine raising trout and splake at the MDIFW Governor Hill Fish Hatchery. Ashley explains why she finds the hands-on hatcheries work to be rewarding, despite originally pursuing a career in wildlife.

July 6, 2021

Episode 3: Experiencing Maine with MOSES Supervisor Angie Vo

Katie chats with MOSES (MDIFW's licensing system) Supervisor Angie Vo about how her office job connects her to Maine's outdoors.

June 28, 2021

Episode 2: From the Midwest to Maine with Deer Biologist Nathan Bieber

Katie checks in via Zoom with MDIFW Deer Biologist Nathan Bieber. Nathan describes growing up and working in the Midwest, his move to Maine, the final steps of the state’s deer collaring study, and why he loves his job.

June 21, 2021

Episode 1: Fly Fishing with Fisheries Biologist Jake Scoville

Katie meets up with avid angler and fisheries biologist Jake Scoville to try out fly fishing and chat about his experiences in the field. Jake is based in the Grand Lake Region in downeast Maine.


Katie meets with MDIFW Wildlife Division Director Nate Webb and Moose Biologist Lee Kantar to talk about Maine’s majestic mammal, the moose. She is eager to learn more about (and share with you!) the history of Maine’s moose population, moose myths and facts, and how winter tick is impacting the population. The series will also explore the ongoing management study and next steps to help keep Maine’s moose population healthy and stable for the future.

Learn more about moose Learn more about winter tick

February 22, 2021

Episode 4: Finale

Do turkeys spread ticks? Why don't we put tick collars on moose? In this final episode of season 5, Katie reviews the adaptive management study, next steps, and FAQs with MDIFW Moose Biologist Lee Kantar. In the coming months, Lee will present his proposal to the Department's advisory council. Christl Theriault, MDIFW's legislative liaison, explains this process.

February 15, 2021

Episode 3: Winter tick

The proliferation of winter tick due to climate change is impacting the health and reproduction of the moose population. In this episode, MDIFW Moose Biologist Lee Kantar reviews all things winter tick including how they differ from other ticks you may be familiar with and how they impact moose. Lee also introduces the Adaptative Management Study, an ongoing study to determine if lowering the moose population density can lessen the impacts of winter tick.

February 8, 2021

Episode 2: Learning about the herd

With 10 million acres of moose habitat in Maine, MDIFW Moose Biologist Lee Kantar has found helicopters to be essential to monitoring the state's moose population. Lee explains the three different studies from the air: the aerial survey to count moose, another aerial survey to determine the distribution of bulls, cows, and calves, and a third study where GPS collars are placed on cows and calves to track them.

February 1, 2021

Episode 1: Moose through the years

Moose are as synonymous with Maine as lighthouses and lobsters. Moose can be found grazing in swamp lands, browsing on saplings sprouting in recent clear cuts, swimming in lakes, and seeking the cool shelter of our state’s enchanting forests. In this episode, Katie chats with MDIFW Wildlife Division Director Nate Webb and Moose Biologist Lee Kantar to learn a little about the history of moose in Maine.


When it comes to enjoying the Maine outdoors, like anything, everyone learns differently and has a different "why." Some learn from their parents at a young age, others find a mentor as an adult, and others seek online videos to begin a passion like no other. Katie meets with Department staff and Mainers of different backgrounds to discover their stories.

October 19, 2020

Episode 8: Story of a mentor

Director of University of Maine 4-H Camp + Learning Centers, Registered Maine Guide, and hunting mentor Ron Fournier talks about sharing his passion for hunting with all ages.

October 12, 2020

Episode 7: Guided to success

Judy, an entomologist, studies insects that impact wild blueberries for the University of Maine in Orono. Despite doing field work for her job, she never considered herself an “outdoorsy” person. After joining several sessions of the Becoming an Outdoors Woman program, she became interested in hunting.

October 5, 2020

Episode 6: The art of hunting

After participating in the Department's Mentored Hunt for new adult hunters, Niko put to work all the skills he learned from his mentor, wildlife biologist Kendall Marden, and harvested a 10-point buck. Niko compares hunting to an art form, every hunter has their own methods, style, and motivations.

September 28, 2020

Episode 5: Fisheries bio on the go

Katie speaks with MDIFW Fisheries Planner and Research Coordinator Matt Lubejko. Matt's fisheries career has brought him around the world, from Europe, China, and the west coast to finally settling in Maine. Thanks to a passionate mentor and YouTube videos, Matt has begun his next greatest adventure: learning to deer hunt. 

September 21, 2020

Episode 4: A game keeper's wild life

Emilie, a game keeper at the Maine Wildlife Park, was introduced to hunting as an adult while working for a hunting outfitter out west. After a chance encounter with a family of black bears, a conversation with a biologist, and finding a community of supportive hunters, she tried hunting for the first time—and loved it!

September 14, 2020

Episode 3: Dan Rice, future Maine Guide

Katie chats with Dan Rice, a lifelong outdoor enthusiast. Dan is a bass fishing fanatic and dedicated hunter who enjoys sharing outdoor experiences with friends and family. He aspires to take his hobby and make it a career by becoming a Registered Maine Guide.

September 7, 2020

Episode 2: Judy, MDIFW Commissioner

Katie meets with MDIFW Commissioner Judy Camuso. Judy, a former vegetarian, discusses how climate change and conservation motivated her to try hunting. She harvested her first wild turkey with fisheries biologist Liz Thorndike acting as a mentor. If you’ve been following along, you heard from Liz in our very first podcast episode.

August 31, 2020

Episode 1: Courtney's surprising hobby

Katie meets with the Department’s media and graphics supervisor Courtney Moulton. Courtney shares memories that inspired her love for Maine and the outdoors, including one special day when she was only ten years old. For Courtney, time spent outside with friends and family means everything.


The Department has numerous partners across the state who work to conserve Maine’s natural resources. In Fish + Game Changers On Tap Katie meets with partners who help keep the Sebago Lake Watershed pristine and explores the unexpected benefits of the protected watershed, from clean drinking water to recreation opportunities and even craft breweries.

July 20, 2020

Episode 8: Maine's landscape, Maine's foundation

Katie meets with Foundation Brewing Quality Control Director Christie Mahaffey. She talks about how beer is the foundation of civilization and how Portland's breweries are invested in their communities. Christie comments that not only is Maine's landscape unique but how people use it is one of a kind.

July 13, 2020

Episode 7: New England's first brewery

Katie visits Geary Brewing Co, New England's first craft brewery in the post prohibition era, and talks with owner, Robin Lapoint, about sustainability and community.

July 6, 2020

Episode 6: Adventures of a wildlife biologist

Before heading back to Portland for another brew tour, Katie talks about bears, piping plovers, and rescuing a turtle with the Sebago Lake Region wildlife biologist Scott Lindsay. More people live in Scott's region than anywhere else in Maine, leading to some challenges when it comes to endangered species and resolving human-wildlife conflicts.

June 29, 2020

Episode 5: The comeback of Sebago's salmon

Katie learns why Sebago Lake is the perfect habitat for landlocked salmon from fisheries resource supervisor Jim Pellerin. Jim highlights the unique work he and fisheries resource technicians do in the Sebago Lake region, from fitting fish with radio tags to helping tourists plan their fishing trips.

June 22, 2020

Episode 4: Watershed fed

Katie talks with Dan Vitalis, host of the culinary adventure series WildFed, about hunting, fishing, and foraging in the Sebago Lake Watershed. Dan, formerly a vegan, started hunting and fishing to become closer to his food source. Dan sources most of the food he eats from the watershed and that means he’s invested in keeping those resources and traditions thriving.

June 15, 2020

Episode 3: A walk in the watershed

Katie takes a walk with Loon Echo Land Trust Executive Director Matt Markot. They chat about how the 7,000 acres of protected land not only helps Sebago Lake’s water quality but provides residents and visitors alike with recreation opportunities and supports the local economy.

June 8, 2020

Episode 2: A brewmaster's secret ingredient

Katie chats with Allagash Brewing Company's brewmaster Jason Perkins to learn how good quality water impacts their final product.

June 1, 2020

Episode 1: Ripple effect

Katie meets with water resources specialist Laurel Jackson to learn about the Sebago Lake Watershed, the public drinking water supply for 200,000 people in the Greater Portland area. The lake is one of only a handful of water bodies in the country where a filtration system is not required due to the excellent water quality. Katie and Laurel chat about why this is possible and how the watershed helps keep our Maine traditions and communities thriving… did she just say craft breweries?

Mini Series: Running with the K9s

In this mini season Katie chats with K9 Corporal Lucas Bellanceau, Landowner Relations Corporal Dave Chabot, and Warden Kris MacCabe to learn the challenges and rewards of being members of the K9 team, how they train, and their most memorable times with their four-legged partners. 

May 4, 2020

Episode 3: K9s, the ultimate coworkers

Katie explores the special bond between the K9s and their handlers and what it is like going to work with your best friend every day. Wardens Lucas, Dave, and Kris also chat about why they are passionate about the work they do.

April 27, 2020

Episode 2: Training with the K9s

Katie rushes to keep up with Landowner Relations Corporal Dave Chabot and K9 Ruby on a practice track through the woods. After, the wardens chat about evidence detection and how items containing human scent and gunpowder residue can help solve fish and game cases.

April 20, 2020

Episode 1: Most memorable tracks

The Maine Warden Service is mandated to assist with search and rescue. To help with this, the Maine Warden Service has nine K9s trained to track down missing people. In this episode, wardens Lucas, Dave, and Kris recount their most memorable tracks.

Season One: In the Field

Jennifer Vashon

March 16, 2020

Episode 7: Visiting a bear den

Katie follows black bear and Canada lynx biologist Jennifer Vashon deep into the woods to visit a bear den. Bear den visits are conducted late winter to monitor the health of female bears and their young cubs. In a follow-up interview, Katie and Jen chat about the den visit, how to avoid human-bear conflicts, and why Jen loves her job.

Sarah Spencer

March 9, 2020

Episode 6: When your office is the wild outdoors

Katie visits with wildlife biologist Sarah Spencer, whose work focuses on managing habitats for the benefit of wildlife. We talk about Sarah’s unique off-the-grid upbringing, how she charted a career in conservation, and the wild, beautiful, and ever-changing places her work brings her every day.

Sarah Boyden

March 2, 2020

Episode 5: Moose to mayflies

Katie hangs out with wildlife biologist Sarah Boyden while she collects biological samples from deer carcasses. Sarah shares highlights from the diverse projects she’s worked on and talks about how growing up on a dairy farm gave her the foundational skills to become a successful biologist.

Danielle D'Auria

February 24, 2020

Episode 4: When research findings surprise

Katie catches up with Danielle D’Auria, a wildlife biologist for the bird group whose focus is on secretive marsh birds like the blue heron. We discuss what exactly a "secretive marsh bird" is, Danielle’s passion for the work, and how some research findings still surprise this experienced biologist.  

Sarah Miller

February 17, 2020

Episode 3: Stopping poachers and spreading positivity

Katie joins game warden Sarah Miller as she scouts for spots to catch night hunters in the act. She talks about her path to becoming a game warden, how she taught herself to hunt, and what she loves most about her work, including her interactions with people in her community and her role as a mentor to other women and young people.

Michele Watkins

February 10, 2020

Episode 2: Mapping out a dream job

Katie sits down with Beginning with Habitat cartographer and fellow upstate New York native Michele Watkins, who shares her journey from her family’s 300-acre farm to her dream job at MDIFW, including the incredible influence her father had on her life, from her love of hunting to her choice of career.

Liz Thorndike

February 3, 2020

Episode 1: Netting fish and getting the family outside

Katie joins fisheries biologist Liz Thorndike for a trap netting session and a conversation about Liz’s important work as a fisheries biologist as well as a broader conversation about spending time outdoors as a family—what it meant to her growing up, and how she’s keeping the tradition alive with her own kids.

Episode 1 Transcript (PDF)

To view PDF documents, you will need the free Adobe Reader. If you need assistance, view our PDF Help page, or email us.