my capstone experience

Christopher McClellan

Christopher McClellan '08, a Community and Environmental Studies major from Underhill, Vt., discusses his senior Capstone project, which involved studying the impact of the 2000 lead fishing tackle ban on common loon mortality in New Hampshire. The Capstone project, which involves extensive research and presentation, is part of the Liberal Education Program at Colby-Sawyer College. While at Colby-Sawyer, Chris was a member of the Rugby Club. He now works for a state agency in Concord, N.H.

Describe the subject of your Capstone project and why you chose to focus on this subject.

For my Capstone, I studied the impact of the 2000 New Hampshire State lead fishing tackle ban on common loon mortality. I chose this topic because I knew it was not only going to be well supported and appreciated, but it also needed to be done in order to judge the effectiveness of the law.

What research did you conduct for this project?

I used a large statistical database and broke it down based on my needs using Excel to graph the results. I also utilized outside literature to explain the legislation and the problem that fueled it.

What did you learn through your Capstone project, and in what ways is it a culmination of your learning experience at Colby-Sawyer?

I learned about the importance of being honest and unbiased when representing statistical data. It's so easy to adjust graphs to show the data how you want to see it that you sometimes do so without even meaning to.

Though the Capstone certainly marked the end point of my Colby-Sawyer experience, for the most part I actually wouldn't consider it a culmination of my learning experience because there were so many more things I learned here that I did not apply to my Capstone.

What was most fun and rewarding for you in the process of creating your Capstone?

The most rewarding part is simply the fact that this was probably the first time in college and in my life that I have done something really academically substantial that has only my name on it. So much of what we do in college is a group effort or a rather short paper (in the scope of things) that it's nice to have something pretty substantial by the end that I can call entirely my own.

What did you find most challenging and difficult about the project?

Being objective when representing the data.

What do you hope will be the lasting value of your Capstone project, both for you and others?

I hope my work will serve as both an impressionable piece, inspiring an ongoing study of the legislation and mortality rates, and as a professional writing sample I can show employers.