Colby College has received a multimillion-dollar donation from a Portland-area couple to launch a new internship and research program that will place students at scientific organizations working on sustainability and climate change.

The Buck Environment and Climate Change Lab is the first of several “Colby Labs” planned by the college that aim to provide students from diverse academic backgrounds with opportunities to get work and research experience in Maine and beyond. The environment and climate change lab is named for Sandy and Sissy Buck, a Cumberland Foreside couple involved in environmental, conservation and philanthropic activities in Maine who provided funding for the new program.

Colby officials declined to release the exact amount of the Bucks’ contribution but said it was a multimillion-dollar donation.

“With this gift, Sandy and Sissy Buck make a meaningful contribution to the issues that matter to them most, and Colby is able to support students as they work to solve complex global problems and gain the experience they need to make a profound difference after they graduate,” Colby President David Greene said in a statement.

Colby College, which has roughly 1,850 undergraduate students on its Waterville campus, already has relationships with research organizations in Maine, ranging from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in East Boothbay to the Herring Gut Learning Center in Port Clyde. The Buck Lab will allow Colby to expand those partnerships and develop others with research organizations both inside and outside of Maine. Funding from the Bucks will also pay for travel for students to conduct field research, the college said.

Sandy Buck is a 1978 Colby graduate who serves as president of the Portland-based Horizon Foundation, which provides grants to programs involved in environmental, conservation and sustainability issues, as well as artistic endeavors. He also serves on the Colby College board of trustees as well as on the boards of other organizations, including as an advisory trustee at Maine Audubon.

Sissy Buck is a printmaker and book artist.

“There has never been a more important time for innovative thinking and investment in environmental issues,” Sandy Buck said in a statement. “Having worked with Maine’s environmental organizations for a long time, I see how hungry they are for collaboration, and how much we have to do to change course and leave this planet in a better place for the next generation. I can’t think of a better way to do it than providing opportunities for young people who are passionate about this work.”

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