| by Stephen Diehl

News Stories

Springfield, Maddy

When she put on scuba gear for the first time, Maddy Springfield MAIEP ’22 admits to a few panicky moments, wondering if she would get enough air.

But with time came confidence, and now, many dives later, she finds diving to be a meditative experience. Perhaps more importantly, diving connects her with the ocean, bringing her close to the places and environmental problems she’s studied in classes and through her work at the Center for the Blue Economy. The striking contrast of beauty and crisis made her want to share her knowledge with others through education.

“Diving allows me to engage my passion for ocean education with trying to make an impact,” says Springfield, who completed her MA in International Environmental Policy (IEP) in 2022. 

We need to help our oceans as much as we can because they’re not in the best condition.
— Maddy Springfield

Through an International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) at the Whale Shark and Oceanic Research Center in Utila, Honduras, Springfield brought many of her interests together—monitoring and fighting stony coral tissue loss disease, leading interns on marine research dives, and creating study materials on coral reef organisms. She served the organization as both a marine conservation intern and a research assistant. 

Springfield was well prepared for her semester in Honduras. When she started there, she had just completed a summer fellowship with the Center for the Blue Economy, where she worked with the Wahine Project—an international summer camp for girls—developing marine biology curriculum and leading discussions with campers on topics such as climate change and Indigenous land stewardship.

“We try to make sure that we end each lesson talking about concrete solutions, so they feel empowered to make a difference,” wrote Springfield in a blog entry about her fellowship.

Whale shark
A whale shark glides through the depths during Maddy Springfield’s first encounter with the majestic animal.

Wherever her trove of experiential learning leads her next, Springfield knows she wants it to involve teaching and helping people understand some of the ocean’s major challenges.

“The field of environmental education is growing rapidly,” she says, “so I hope I’m able to find a job where I’m able to combine all my past experiences and knowledge—and what I learned at the Institute—to make an impact.”

The Field Work series offers snapshots of student experiential learning opportunities that are a hallmark of the Middlebury Institute. Read more Field Work stories here. 

“I was incredibly grateful to have that experience.”

Maddy Springfield developed a passion for teaching youth about the ocean environment, a skill she honed during her International Professional Service Semester in Honduras.

“My biggest advice is when you’re a student at the Middlebury Institute, try to embed yourself in the community.”

Through her fellowship with the Institute’s Center for the Blue Economy, Maddy Springfield developed professional connections throughout the Monterey Peninsula.