NOLS Alumni Magazine - The Leader Fall 2018

Page 9


ALUMNI PROFILE LUCAS ST. CLAIR By Sarah Jeno Development Officer

“I should be here to advocate for Maine, our public lands and environment.”


he seeds of Lucas and Yemaya St. Clair’s personal and professional lives were planted long ago—on a 1998 NOLS Semester in Patagonia. When Lucas St. Clair arrived on a street corner in Puerto Natales, Chile, he was immediately struck by coursemate Yemaya’s smile and enthusiastic blue eyes. The two became great friends during their semester, eventually traveling around Patagonia after their course ended. Pulled to opposite coasts of the U.S., they promised they would meet again in eight years—and stayed in touch during that time by writing to one another. Almost eight years to the day, Lucas traveled from Maine to Seattle to reconnect with Yemaya. They were married shortly after and settled in Seattle. During their time in Chile, the two saw the work conservationists Kris and Doug Tompkins were doing, turning privately owned land into a national park in South America. At the time, Lucas’s mother was taking on a similar project back home in Maine. Inspired by them and committed to ensuring everyone has access to the opportunities they had growing up, Lucas and Yemaya moved back to Maine to preserve and protect a piece of wilderness in Maine’s North Woods. Lucas was told by the White House and members of Congress he needed to get the public’s support in order to make the project a reality. Ensuring everyone’s

voice was heard and acting on behalf of the group—something he admits he was not very good at during his semester— Lucas continued to hone his leadership skills. “During my course, I don’t think I ever fully adjusted to being aware, or caring much, about other people’s needs,” he said. It wasn’t until much later that he realized a group can only succeed when everyone has their needs met. While the biggest takeaway from his Patagonia semester was meeting his wife, Lucas also credits NOLS with his understanding of group behavior and the ability to get others to come along with his plan. Through actively listening to the needs and wants of Maine’s constituents, Lucas was able to come up with compromises to meet everyone’s needs so that 87,500 acres of land could become an accessible, protected area for all to experience nature. Katahdin Woods and Waters officially became a National Monument in 2016. Now possessing the skill to listen and advocate for folks in his community, and put off by what he called the lack of both in the current U.S. Congress, Lucas ran for the Congressional seat in Maine’s second district earlier this year. When asked what prompted him to run he said, “members of Congress are disconnected from their constituents’ wants, and as someone who’s learned the skills of listening and compromise over and over again, I should be here to advocate for Maine, our

public lands and environment.” Although Lucas’s bid for office was unsuccessful, he and Yemaya will continue to use the lessons they learned at NOLS two decades ago at home and in their work, ensuring the connectedness nature gives is an experience everyone can have.

Lucas and Yemaya St. Clair and family. Courtesy of Lucas St. Clair

Sarah Jeno Sarah is a NOLS major gifts officer and Lightweight Backpacking alumna. When not at NOLS you’ll find her hiking with her dog, reading in the sun, and running half marathons around the country.


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