John Linehan and Beau, Franklin Park Zoo
Photo courtesy Zoo New England
In 1980, John Linehan planned to use his University of Maine degree in wildlife management to improve the lives of wild animals by working in Africa, Alaska or Maine.
While waiting for that dream job to materialize, he took a temporary position in what, for him at that time, was an unlikely field — zookeeping.
As a child growing up in Canton, Massachusetts, Linehan was fascinated by the animals, but found zoos sad and depressing in their approach to helping the public appreciate the beauty and importance of animals.
Years later, the same was true when he got his first zoo keeping job at Boston’s 72-acre Franklin Park Zoo, founded in 1912. And it wasn’t just at that zoo. The nearby 26-acre Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts, founded in 1905, held the same disappointment.
“When I first started, the two zoos were a joke. They only had farm animals and birds for exhibits. Not only that, inebriated people could just walk right in with no problem, and people could even bring their dogs in. It was an unsafe situation for both animals and humans,” says Linehan.
Yet Linehan stayed on because there were so many opportunities for him to make a difference. Every time his weekend came and he was off work for a couple of days, he would always think, “Will these animals be OK if I’m not there?”
He worked as a temporary laborer, zookeeper, head zookeeper, and mammal curator for 21 years. Throughout, Linehan voiced his opinions, concerns and enacted changes in an effort to improve Franklin Park for the animals and the patrons. He also worked to help establish Zoo New England — a nonprofit corporation created in 1991 to operate both Franklin and Stone zoos.
In 2002, Linehan was named president and CEO of Zoo New England, with a depth of experience and high expectations to move the zoological parks more in the direction of educational outreach and conservation.
Today, Zoo New England’s mission is to “inspire people to protect and sustain the natural world for future generations by creating fun and engaging experiences that integrate wildlife and conservation programs, research and education.”
“Ultimately, modern zoos are a critical component in introducing urban kids to nature,” Linehan says. “The zoos introduce the kids to the environment that will lead to a heightened appreciation and understanding of the animals, which will hopefully lead to learning about them in a higher education and, ultimately, will lead to them conserving the animals they grew to love.”
Zoo New England is committed to creating an emotional and intellectual connection to animals. Rather than making zoos a passive experience in which people simply view the wildlife, Linehan is working to make the exhibits more interactive, particularly so that children can learn while having fun.
To jump-start that process, Franklin Park is building a new children’s zoo that will have fewer animals, but is more interactive and features learning-based activities.
“The planet is like a fuse. If we don’t do anything, soon enough all biological ecosystems will start unraveling,” says Linehan of the importance of educating younger generations.
Linehan’s work focuses on conserving ecosystems and everything in them. That’s why Zoo New England is a participates in conservation projects, locally and around the globe.
For example, one of Franklin Park Zoo’s head veterinarians also does fieldwork in the cloud forest area of Panama, helping to reintroduce the golden frog that is extinct in the wild. His work involves not only the amphibians, but also human inhabitants in the area, recruiting them to help in the reintroduction effort.
In addition, Franklin Park has introduced a conservation awareness-raising Quarter Token program, called Quarters for Conservation,in which 25 cents of patrons’ admission fees goes toward conservation projects. Visitors receive a token upon admission that they then can deposit on-site toward one of a handful of conservation projects. Not only do the visitors know that they are helping to conserve species, they can be involved in deciding which project to fund.
Linehan admits that, even now as a zoo CEO able to bring his leadership vision to bear on improving zoos, he still misses hands-on zookeeping. Now he can only watch as zookeepers and curators perform the duties he used to do. Today he is more of a facilitator, making sure the zoos are running efficiently, and the animals are safe and healthy.
He also gets great satisfaction in helping people — from zoo patrons and donors to urban youths in his after-school programs — gain a healthy perspective on the wild kingdom and its place on the planet.
Making a difference is important to Linehan.
“I want people to come to my zoos and think, ‘Wow, those animals are incredible. What can I do in my life to make sure they don’t go extinct?’” he says.
People need to know that ecosystems are like a neighborhood, says Linehan, and that we have a reliance on other animals and that we share the planet with them.
WVII (Channel 7) interviewed Nory Jones, a professor of management information systems at the University of Maine, and several business students about a pen pal program that connects the students with a group of active marines. Students in MBS Corps, the Maine Business School’s community outreach organization, send letters and care packages to the marines who are their age and serving in the Middle East. “We have these wonderful students who take time from their busy schedules to just help; to make a difference in the community with all kinds of projects,” Jones said of MBS Corps members.
University of Maine students were mentioned in a Bangor Daily News article about the Municipal Review Committee, a group representing the trash disposal interests of 187 Maine communities, announcing it plans to develop a $60 million solid waste recycling and processing facility in Hampden. The proposed garbage-to-energy facility will feature technology from Maryland-based Fiberight that reuses organic materials in trash to make biofuels, according to the article. In October, the Municipal Review Committee hired a team of students from UMaine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute (FBRI) led by Hemant Pendse, a UMaine professor who leads the FBRI research team focused on creating and commercializing new bioproducts. The team is tasked with studying the operations of Fiberight to determine if its technology will work in the colder temperatures of Maine, the article states. The report is scheduled to be finished in January.
Eric Landis, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Maine, was mentioned in the Berkeley Lab news release, “Back to the future with Roman architectural concrete.” A discovery to understanding the longevity and endurance of Roman architectural concrete was made by researchers using beams of X-rays at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, according to the report. Landis is one of several co-authors of a paper describing the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) titled “Mechanical Resilience and Cementitious Processes in Imperial Roman Architectural Mortar.” At UMaine, Landis measured bridging crack morphology using computed tomography scans of fractured mortar specimens, the release states.
The Maine Edge published a University of Maine report about three student members of the University Volunteer Ambulance Corps (UVAC) winning the LifeFlight of Maine Human Patient Simulator Challenge at the annual Midcoast Atlantic Partners EMS Seminar in Rockport. Melissa Dufault, Alana Silverman and Ryan Buckley competed against several medical response teams with years of service and experience, including seven EMS instructors and paramedics. Joseph Kellner, UVAC chief of service, served as paramedic backup for the team. In winning the challenge, the team received two days of free simulator training for UVAC provided by LifeFlight of Maine.
WVII (Channel 7) reported on a food pantry run by MBS Corps, the Maine Business School’s community outreach organization. The honor system food nook goes by the motto, “Take what you need, give what you can,” and is stocked by UMaine students, faculty, staff and public organizations, according to the report.
Foster’s Daily Democrat reported the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) and University of Maine’s Target Technology Incubator have announced members of the Top Gun Maine 2015 Class. The Top Gun entrepreneurship acceleration program is part of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative. Top Gun participants will attend biweekly classes at the University of Southern Maine, the Target Technology Center or University College at Rockland and will work with mentors who will help them apply what they have learned to accelerate growth, the article states.
The Maine Edge published a University of Maine student profile on junior Matthew Dexter. Over the summer of 2014, Dexter raised $7,300 for the Ulman Cancer Foundation while participating in 4K for Cancer, a 42-day cross-country run to raise money for and awareness of cancer. Since completing the 4,000-mile team relay run, Dexter has formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit — the Eastern Trek for Cancer. The 29-day, 400-mile relay run starts June 27, 2015 in Kittery, Maine, and wraps up July 25, 2015 in Surf City, New Jersey.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was one of five local organizations to be recognized by the Eastern Maine Development Corporation for its work serving the community’s economic needs.
EMDC Champion Awards were presented during the EMDC annual Meeting of Corporations in Bangor.
“UMaine Cooperative Extension has a longstanding partnership with EMDC. The expertise they provide to small businesses is beyond measure. The professionals at UMaine Cooperative Extension work with businesses of all sizes — starting with home-based businesses. UMaine Cooperative Extension is a collaborator in every sense of the word and they are constant supporters of business growth in our region,” EMDC wrote of UMaine Extension.
The Katahdin Region Transition Team, U.S. Small Business Administration of Maine, Cianbro and Penobscot Theatre also were honored.
A full EMDC news release is online.
The Senior Companion Program is celebrating 40 years of connecting volunteers age 55 and older with community service efforts.
Created by the federal government, SCP began in 1974 in 18 communities nationwide. Maine was added in 1978 when then-President Jimmy Carter expanded the program. University of Maine Cooperative Extension became the program’s sponsor in 1981 and last year, nearly 100 senior companions provided friendship and assisted more than 500 homebound clients in 12 counties statewide.
More information about the national program is online. For information about becoming involved in Maine contact Wanda Lincoln, 581.3326, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website. For information on the program in Androscoggin, Franklin, Oxford or Sagadahoc county, contact Anna Saar, 743.6329, email@example.com. For information on the program in Aroostook County, contact Kim Hazlett, 532.6548, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the program in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis or Waldo county, contact Terri Eldridge, 581.3870, email@example.com. For information on the program in Kennebec or Somerset county, contact Gene Tobey, 474.9622, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on the program in Washington County, contact Deb Gardner, 255.3345, email@example.com.
The University of Maine employee holiday lunch with music will be held 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. Dec. 17 in Wells Conference Center. During the lunch, members of the Classified Employees Advisory Council (CEAC) will be in the lobby collecting nonperishable food items or household supplies to donate to the Black Bear Exchange, UMaine’s food pantry and clothing exchange. The snow date for the lunch is Dec. 18.
Mainebiz published an article on a Chinese economy course taught by James Breece, an economics professor at the University of Maine, who has traveled to China several times. Breece uses a format for the course called the “leveraged flip.” Students read assigned textbooks, write papers and view videos outside of class and interact with guest speakers and participate in discussion during class time. “I was surprised by the number of people in Maine with connections to China,” he said of finding speakers. Breece also was quoted in the related Mainebiz article, “Trade winds: Maine companies look to Asian growth markets.” He said there’s been a major shift in firms going to China. “Initially [firms went there] for cheap labor. But now companies go to China to manufacture and to sell in the Chinese market, where the growing middle class is the top consumer,” Breece said.
Tori Jackson, an associate professor with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, was quoted in a Portland Press Herald article about two new USDA-inspected poultry processing plants in the state that could spur production and expand the market for Maine birds. “On a national scale probably nobody else would notice. But for us, it is a really big deal,” said Jackson, who wrote a 2013 report on the need for more slaughterhouses.
The University of Maine Museum of Art and George Kinghorn, the museum’s director and curator, were included in a Portland Press Herald article about Art Basel, a popular art fair in Miami Beach, that attracts artists, curators and gallery directors from all over the country. Kinghorn, who came to Maine from the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Florida, has attended the Miami art fairs more than a dozen times, according to the article. At this year’s fair, Kinghorn used money from the museum’s acquisition fund to purchase two paintings that will be displayed in the Bangor museum in the spring, the article states. Kinghorn also said he uses the gathering to scout artists to show in Maine.
Jonathan Rubin, a professor of resource economics and policy at the University of Maine, was quoted in the MediaPost article, “Plunging gas prices put consumers, retailers in a holly jolly mood.” Although businesses and consumers are enjoying the cheaper cost, Rubin said the public is “incredibly shortsighted” in that “there can be serious long-term consequences” to low prices.
Lenard Kaye, director of the University of Maine Center on Aging and professor in the UMaine School of Social Work, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about elderly suicide for an article on a murder-suicide in Gouldsboro that involved a 65-year-old and his 75-year-old wife who had suffered from painful and degenerative arthritis for several years. Kaye said he believes it’s never OK to take someone’s life, and adds he finds it difficult to hear that some older adults think suicide is an understandable path. “There’s an acceptance in our society that there’s little life ahead of them and little reason to continue living,” he said. “That is wrong. The system failed. To say nothing could have been done to ease their suffering is incorrect.”
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension Maine Harvest for Hunger program had its most successful year in 2014, as more than 300 volunteers donated 240,937 pounds of fresh produce to 104 organizations from York County to Piscataquis County.
Since the program’s inception in 1999, volunteers have provided more than 1.8 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to people, food pantries and soup kitchens statewide.
According to Feeding America, a national umbrella organization for food banks, 206,000 Maine citizens — 15.5 percent of the population — experienced food insecurity in 2012, a 50 percent increase since 2004. Also according to Feeding America, 36 percent of food insecure Mainers did not qualify for government food assistance programs. Food insecurity and obesity can co-exist for individuals and families, and a goal is to replace high-calorie, nutrient-poor food donated to food pantries with fresh fruits and vegetables.
The Iberdrola USA Foundation, along with Fundación Iberdrola, is accepting scholarship applications for master’s studies in energy and/or the environment at the University of Maine and University of Rochester for the 2015–2016 academic year, according to a press release.
The Iberdrola Scholarship Program is open to graduate students who plan to pursue studies in renewable energy, environmental protection, climate change or energy efficiency.
Global energy leader Iberdrola S.A. established the scholarship program in 2010. The grants cover tuition, health and accident insurance, and a $25,200 annual stipend for other expenses.
For more information or to apply, visit the Iberdrola Foundation scholarship website. Candidates should submit an application to one of the two universities before applying for the scholarship. The deadline to apply is 8 a.m. Feb. 13, 2015.
“Iberdrola and Iberdrola USA are very proud to support this next generation of renewable energy leaders,” said Bob Kump, chief corporate officer for Iberdrola USA.
Three student members of the University Volunteer Ambulance Corps (UVAC) at the University of Maine recently won a competition that involved caring for a simulated pediatric patient at the annual Midcoast Atlantic Partners EMS Seminar in Rockport, Maine.
Melissa Dufault, Alana Silverman and Ryan Buckley competed against several medical response teams with years of service and experience, including seven EMS instructors and paramedics. Joseph Kellner, UVAC chief of service, served as paramedic backup for the team.
“We were up against some of the best providers in the state; all the way from EMT-basics to paramedics. Our team of two EMT-basics and myself, an unlicensed attendant, were the underdogs to say the least,” said Buckley, a marine science major from Milton, Massachusetts, who has been with UVAC for about a year.
The LifeFlight of Maine Human Patient Simulator Challenge tasks teams with the same basic emergency scenario that differs slightly depending on the license levels of team members. This year’s scenario was a pediatric male that had fallen from a skateboard and was unresponsive. The competition is designed to test skills and how well teams assess the patient by responding to the patient simulator as they would in a real emergency.
“We competed against close friends, admired mentors and current instructors,” said Dufault, a nursing student at Eastern Maine Community College who has been with UVAC since spring 2012. “It was an immense honor to stand in front of all the competitors I had looked up to for a long time.”
The contest was administered by LifeFlight of Maine and was held as a benefit fundraiser for the Maine EMS Memorial in Augusta. The team chose to donate its $200 cash prize to the memorial in the name of Matthew Jetton, a UVAC alumnus and flight paramedic who died when the helicopter he was riding in crashed while transporting a burn patient to a Portland hospital in 1993.
The team also won a response bag from Maine-ly Tactical & Uniforms and two days of free simulator training for UVAC provided by LifeFlight of Maine.
“The free simulator training is a chance to train and do patient assessments in a controlled environment where students can allow themselves to make mistakes with no risk of patient harm,” says Dufault of Turner, Maine. “The simulators can blink, talk, breathe; they also have pulses just as a normal patient.”
Dufault says the training will be especially helpful for new members who have no prior experience.
“As a person in the medical field, it is important to stay current. The knowledge of the medical profession is always expanding. This training gives our members an opportunity to train on certain scenarios that don’t occur often so we are prepared when the real thing happens,” says Silverman, a UMaine biology major with a pre-med concentration from Oakland, Maine, who has been working with UVAC for four years.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these three,” Kellner said. “It is a testament to the quality of care that UVAC providers bring to the University of Maine.”
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
WABI (Channel 5) reported on the launch of the “Historical Atlas of Maine” at the University of Maine. The atlas is a new geographical and historical interpretation of the state, from the end of the last ice age to 2000, that culminates a 15-year scholarly project led by UMaine researchers. UMaine historian Richard Judd and UMaine geographer Stephen Hornsby edited the book that contains cartography by Michael Hermann. “I think it is a new portal into Maine history that we have not really had before in the sense that it combines graphics with text in a way that allows the reader to use their imagination,” Judd said.