MEET LAURIE

I am a small business owner and an Orono Town Councilor. I grew up in Pennsylvania.  As a teenager, I rode my bicycle up the coast of Maine to Bar Harbor and then to Bangor.  That first visit to Maine kindled my desire to one day make it my home.


After high school, I spent a year living and working on a Kibbutz. It is there that I fell in love with soils. I studied soil science in college and worked for the Soil Conservation Service, USAID, and the USDA Forest Service.  In my 30s, I completed my PhD in soils and global change at UCBerkeley. A faculty position at the University of Maine brought me to Orono in 1999.  

 

My hobby during my 9 years at UMaine was making buildings more energy efficient. I turned that into my business: Osher Environment Systems. We assist building owners to lower their heating costs and their CO2 contributions to the atmosphere. 

 

Over the last decade, I've advocated in support of legislation to protect the climate, fully fund schools, give civil rights to LGBTQ people, provide healthcare for all, grant workers the right to earn leave, and provide services for adults with disabilities.  As Orono’s Representative to the Maine House, I’ll bring my perspective, experience, vision, and persistence to the work of implementing policies that improve Maine.  

WHERE I COME FROM 

I was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA.  My mom was a third grade teacher and later a real estate agent and my dad was a pediatrician.  My parents followed the example of their immigrant parents; they were dedicated to family and served in leadership roles in their communities.  They volunteered for boards, actively raised funds for non-profit organizations, and instilled this tradition of service in their four children. 

 

There was a community owned ice skating rink in our neighborhood, and we all enjoyed being there.  My parents served on the board, did fund-raising, and ice danced as featured skaters in community shows. My brothers played ice hockey and my sister and I figure skated, competing at rinks throughout the region from shortly after we learned to walk into our teens.  In school, I participated in the arts and in sports and was elected to leadership roles by my peers. 

BECOMING A SCIENTIST

As a teenager, I wanted to learn about farming, so I spent a year living and working on a Kibbutz in Israel. It is there that I fell in love with soils. I returned to the US and studied soil science and international agriculture at Cornell University. After college, I worked for the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now called NRCS) mapping soils in North Carolina.  I attended North Carolina State University and earned a Master of Science in Soils and Geomorphology.  My research, conducted during a year living in the Upper Amazon Basin in Peru, was funded by the US Agency for International Development’s agricultural technology transfer program.  The goal of the work was to provide information to local farmers to assist them to transition agricultural practices that were more sustainable than shifting cultivation.  

 

I worked as a soil scientist and watershed scientist for the USDA Forest Service in Alaska, Colorado and California.  My job was to provide scientific input for land management decisions, to map soils, and to delineate wetlands so that the habitats of endangered species could be protected from deforestation. This was during the late 1980s, when scientists began sounding the alarm that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere would destabilize the climate and the economy.  I proposed that the Forest Service begin managing forest soils to enhance their organic matter (carbon) storage capacity, but there was no policy in place to restrict the cutting of trees because of their role in storing carbon in Forest Soils.

 

 

From there, I went to the University of California at Berkeley to pursue a PhD in Soil Science.  My research was designed to inform policy makers about the role of soils and land management in storing carbon.  The research was funded by NASA’s ‘Mission to Planet’ Earth Global Change Program.  My post-doctoral research, studying soil C storage in pine plantations and grasslands in Ecuador’s highlands, was completed while working at US EPA’s lab in Athens, GA.

 

At the University of Maine, my students and I studied C storage in Maine soils and coastal sediments. During those years there were still no state or national policies being developed to manage land for carbon storage. I'm running for the Maine Legislature so that I can make climate change policy.

My twins Noam and Zivi were born at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor in the summer of 2001.  They attended The Sharing Place at Talmar Woods from age 6 months until they started kindergarten at Asa Adams Elementary school. They were always singing and dancing at home and loved putting on shows. By age 6 they were performing as paid actors on the stage at the Penobscot Theater Company (PTC).  They participated in sports and performing arts in school, and continued to perform at the PTC and in the community. Their first Orono Artsapalooza appearance was when they were in 5th grade.  

I supported my sons' interests by making costumes for them and by volunteering for local arts organizations. I made costumes for the PTC's children's theatre productions and, after launching my business, I donated consulting and weatherization services to improve the energy efficiency of the Bangor Opera House.   When they were in high school, I served as the treasurer for OSCAr, the Orono Schools Coalition for the Arts.  Their last show at the PTC, in the summer of 2019, was Mamma Mia. I still serve on the PTC Development Committee; and our job is even more important with the challenges posed by COVID19. 

In addition to being known as 'those singing twins', my boys are also recognized by many in Orono as the Bangor Daily News paper delivery duo.  They delivered the BDN by 6 AM in the morning for 6 years by bicycle, finishing up in June 2019 when they graduated from Orono High School.   


My children have had lots of love and support from family members who live in other states and visit Maine often.  My mom, pictured here with me and my twins, still lives in Philadelphia.  In addition to loved ones who are far away, we are grateful for all of our friends, teachers and community members here in Orono that make up our local chosen family.  It takes a village to raise children, and I am forever grateful to have had the joy of raising my children here.

Over the last decade, I've advocated in support of legislation to protect the climate, fully fund schools, give civil rights to LGBTQ people, provide healthcare for all, grant workers the right to earn leave, and provide services for adults with disabilities.    

I have served on various community boards including Congregation Beth El and the faith-based organization Maine Interfaith Power & Light (MEIPL).  From 2012 to 2018, I was the president of MEIPL and represented it on the Maine Environmental Priorities Coalition, a group of  organizations that advocate in Augusta for improved environmental protection policies. I am also an active volunteer for several local and state-wide organizations including Equality Maine, the Health Equity Alliance, the Maine People’s Alliance, and the Maine Small Business Coalition.  

 

My advocacy efforts have included trips to Washington, D.C. to protest and to meet with our Congressperson and Senators and travel to Augusta to testify in committees and meet with elected officials.  As Orono’s Representative to the Maine House, I’ll bring my perspective, experience, vision, and persistence to the work of implementing policies that improve Maine.   

FAMILY LIFE IN MAINE

ADVOCACY

Laurie Osher for Orono 
Maine House District 123
Paid for and authorized by the Laurie Osher for Orono Campaign.
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