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 with MDIFW public outreach specialist Katie Yates, 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: Katie Yates Public Outreach Specialist, MDIFW

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.

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SEASON FOUR: TAKE AIM

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.

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.

SEASON THREE: FISH + GAME CHANGERS ON TAP

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)

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