Edith Marion Patch was the first woman scientist employed by the University of Maine. She arrived in Orono in 1903 to start the entomology department at the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station, but had to work for a year before the board would approve her salary. Some, it seemed, had doubts as to whether a woman could do the job! Edith Patch proved them wrong, and proved herself a dedicated and skilled scientist. She earned her Masters degree at the University of Maine in 1910, and her doctorate from Cornell University in the following year. She earned the respect of her scientific colleagues, who elected her a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1913, and president of the Entomological Society of America in 1930.
In addition to publishing scientific articles and technical bulletins to assist farmers, foresters, and property owners, Dr. Patch was the revered author of numerous stories and books for young readers.
Dr. Patch was also an eloquent early environmentalist, calling for limited use of chemical pesticides, and advocating biological methods of controlling insect pests even before Rachel Carson was born. Dr. Patch warned that widespread use of pesticides would dangerously diminish beneficial insects, and have a devastating impact on songbirds. She predicted a world in which farmers would need to truck in bees to pollinate their crops, and where refuges would need to be established to protect butterflies, birds, and other organisms threatened by human activities.
Though a world renowned scientist, Dr. Patch was a lively contributor to the life of campus and community, hosting sorority teas in her wildlife gardens, leading nature walks for neighborhood children, and participating in the activities of local social and political organizations.