Growing up in rural Maine in what they termed "very alternative" circumstances, twin siblings Lucas St. Clair '96 and Hannah Quimby '96 had neither the opportunity to volunteer nor the resources with which to be philanthropic. "We were just trying to get by," St. Clair explained.
Nonetheless, the values and spirit of giving were always present in their family's culture, as was the importance of not taking more than you need. Today, those values remain firmly at the base of the work they do: St. Clair is the President of Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. – a non-profit behind 150,000-acre Katahdin Woods and Waters public recreation and national park project – and Quimby is the Director of Quimby Family Foundation that supports environmental, healthy living, and art projects, almost entirely within the state of Maine.
Quimby recounted, "Our parents ended up in Central Maine because land was affordable and they wanted a good place to raise a family. They were part of the back to the land movement, inspired by Scott and Helen Nearing stories. They bought 50 acres and built a little cabin and for the first five years of our lives, we lived in that cabin. Then, we lived in a tent for a year, we lived in a trailer, we lived in a schoolhouse, we lived in a van. My mother got electricity and running water when we were in eighth grade, right before we moved out [to go away to school].”
St. Clair added, "Resource management in our household was really something that rose to the top: how much we used, how much we consumed. Mom was against using things made out of plastic. Dad was always saying, ‘Turn off the water! Figure out what you want and close the refrigerator door! Turn the lights off!”
In those days, their father worked as a DJ for a local radio station and their mother, Roxanne Quimby was an artist and a waitress. One day, Roxanne met the now famed Burt Shavitz while hitchhiking. Through that association, she learned how to make soaps and candles from beeswax, selling the products at art craft fairs. Eventually, the company Burt's Bees was formed, operated independently, and then sold. With the proceeds, Elliotsville Plantation, Inc. and the Quimby Family Foundation were established.
“There was never a question of anything else that would be done with the money, except being used to establish foundations," Hannah Quimby said.
Connecting the dots between early life and the work he does now, St. Clair said that growing up in the country and going to Gould cemented his abiding love for the natural world. "A lot of my interest in philanthropy came through the outdoors, although it's gone beyond that now. There was so much emphasis at Gould on the ‘Outdoors-as-classroom’. Lorenzo Baker and Bill Clough were my mentors all through high school and I spent so much time in the woods with those guys. It was all about having places to do these activities, to conserve them, to become someone who advocated for these places."