Upon the recommendation of Provost Designate Jeffrey Hecker, University of Maine President Paul W. Ferguson has named Dr. Jeffrey St. John as associate provost for academic affairs, effective Sept. 1, 2013. Dr. St. John has been appointed to a two-year term.
Dr. St. John is currently an associate dean for the UMaine Division of Lifelong Learning. He also directs the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Assessment.
President Ferguson commented, “I am highly pleased and enthusiastic about this new role for Dr. St. John. Jeff has distinguished himself as one of the impactful thought leaders on campus and is thoroughly dedicated to faculty development. In this capacity, Jeff will be a valued partner with Provost Hecker and all constituencies at UMaine.”
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve the institution in this role and I look forward to working closely with Provost Hecker on faculty development opportunities, outcomes-based assessment and related academic initiatives,” St. John said.
Dr. St. John received his Ph.D. in communication studies (rhetorical theory and criticism) from the University of Washington in 2000. He earned an M.A. in communication and journalism from UMaine in 1996 and a B.A. in communication studies from Eastern Washington University in 1994. His primary research interests are in political communication, communication theory, public sphere studies and freedom of speech.
St. John joined the UMaine faculty in 2008 from Ohio University, where he served as associate professor in the School of Communication Studies and as a faculty fellow in residence in the Honors Tutorial College.
Since 2008, St. John has directed UMaine’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Assessment. In 2009, he became a cooperating associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism. In 2011, he served a year as interim director of Continuing and Distance Education, and was named director in July 2012. Since that time, he also has been associate dean for academic infrastructure and instructional support in the Division of Lifelong Learning.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about Gov. Paul LePage reportedly telling a group of Republicans that President Obama “hates white people.” Brewer said if LePage did make the statement, it would top his list of “ludicrous comments,” but it won’t hurt him in the long run. Brewer predicted the general reaction will be, “There he goes again,” but he believes the governor “shouldn’t get a pass” for his controversial remarks.
Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension will host an all-day workshop on seaweed aquaculture science, policy and commercial product development at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast on Thursday, Aug. 29, followed by a three-hour class on kelp farming techniques.
The Seaweed Scene workshop will offer the opportunity for attendees to catch up on the latest in research and development and help plan for the future in seaweed science, management and industry in Maine and New England.
The workshop runs from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. and will include presentations from science and industry experts as well as time for discussions and networking.
“An Introduction to the Equipment, Processes and Techniques of Kelp Farming” will be offered 4:30–7:30 p.m. to provide a hands-on opportunity to learn techniques for growing kelp from spore to harvest.
The class will be taught by leading industry members from the Portland-based commercial kelp farm Ocean Approved and University of Connecticut scientists. Using techniques developed with UConn researchers, Ocean Approved has been farming native kelp on the Maine Coast for three years.
Morning and afternoon refreshments will be provided during the workshop. Attendees are welcome to bring a seaweed-based dish to share at lunch, as well as accompanying recipe.
Limited space is available for vendors.
To register for the free workshop or kelp class, to sign up for vendor space or for more information, contact Sarah Redmond at 207.841.3221, or email@example.com. Registration is required, as space is limited.
The event is funded by the Maine Aquaculture Innovation Center.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Mainebiz published an article about Orono’s Target Technology Incubator and its relationship with the University of Maine. The incubator began in the late 1990s to spur innovation, boost regional economic development and elevate UMaine’s standing as a research university, according to the article. Renee Kelly, co-director of programs, operations and outreach at the UMaine Foster Center for Student Innovation; Jesse Moriarity, Foster Center coordinator; and Emma Wilson, a UMaine student in the Innovate for Maine internship program, spoke about the importance of the incubator. The incubator is a joint effort of the Bangor Area Target Development Corp., UMaine, the state of Maine and the city of Orono.
University of Maine students and Caribou natives Cameron Anderson and Chris Nadeau were interviewed in an Aroostook Republican & News article that was also published in the Bangor Daily News about their participation in the Education to Industry Summit held in Presque Isle. Anderson and Nadeau spoke about their summer internships at Presque Isle-based MMG Insurance Co., and how the skills they learned will carry over to academics and the professional world.
Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about the resignation of Stephen Bowen as Maine’s education commissioner and the effect it will have on Gov. Paul LePage’s administration. Brewer said Bowen stepping down is a “relatively big deal” and “his loss is a significant one for Gov. LePage” who has viewed education as an important issue.
Felicia Dumont, food preservation program aide with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, demonstrated how to make and can pickles on WVII (Channel 7) for the latest installment of its “Backyard Gardener” series.
Frank Drummond, entomologist at the University of Maine, was quoted in a TakePart article titled “Is climate change threatening Maine’s staple foods?” Drummond spoke about the spotted wing drosophila, a new fruit fly that is targeting the state’s blueberries. Drummond said the pests need to be monitored and managed, but harvesting berries earlier and using an experimental mesh trap could help keep the flies off the berries.
In an effort to raise awareness about invasive forest pests, two University of Maine students will survey campers about their firewood use at Lamoine State Park and several private campgrounds on Mount Desert Island Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 22–24.
Laura Brehm, an ecology and environmental sciences student, and Sally Peckenham, a nursing student, have been surveying people at campgrounds in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont since June in an effort to learn more about firewood movement.
Out-of-state firewood has the potential to bring two wood-boring insects into Maine that could harm the state’s forests — the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle.
The surveys are part of a larger study by researchers in the three states to evaluate the Forest Pest Outreach Project, funded by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and designed to increase awareness of invasive forest pests.
The study aims to determine the most effective methods of outreach that will influence the behaviors of homeowners, landowners, campers and other stakeholders to protect forest resources from these insects.
“We want to try to prevent bad infestations of the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle, and the best way to do that is by informing the public about what they can do to help,” Brehm says.
These insects have not yet been reported in Maine, but the emerald ash borer was recently found in New Hampshire, according to Jessica Leahy, associate professor in the School of Forest Resources and one of four principal investigators of the study.
The Asian longhorned beetle attacks maple trees and could negatively affect the state’s maple syrup industry, while the emerald ash borer targets ash trees, causing a particularly high mortality rate among the trees that have cultural significance for local Native American tribes, Leahy says.
To combat these invasive pests, an out-of-state firewood ban was passed by the Legislature in 2010, and the researchers want to evaluate the effectiveness of the ban.
Preliminary study results across the three states found 30 percent of campers bring wood from home into campgrounds. Experts suggest not to move firewood more than 30 miles, and Leahy says there’s a good chance most campers are more than 30 miles from home.
“We need to do more to get the message out not to bring camp wood, and we need to make it more accessible and affordable at campgrounds,” Leahy says.
Leahy said once the grant was approved in April, an advertisement for student researchers was issued.
“The first thing we did was have the students read up on these bugs,” Leahy says. “They had no idea how dramatic their impacts could be and the threats they create to the state’s forest. It makes the project all the more important.”
The students will visit about 20 campgrounds across the three states and survey more than 300 campers.
At the campgrounds, the students ask campers questions and write down answers as opposed to passing out a paper form. They also take notes on any signs about invasive forest pests and firewood movement, according to Brehm.
She says the research will aid the design of future outreach materials and they have already received a lot of advice from campers.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Despite financial challenges and contrary to long-held misperceptions, Maine’s low-income woodland owners share a sense of stewardship based on a love of their land, rarely viewing their acreage as an investment, according to a study conducted by forestry researchers at the University of Maine.
UMaine graduate student Britt Townsend and professor Jessica Leahy led the study to learn more about this often underrepresented group. They determined an affordable and interactive program offering advice from professional foresters would be welcome and beneficial to this group.
Leahy, associate professor of human dimensions of natural resources in the School of Forest Resources, and Townsend interviewed 20 low-income landowners around the state in the summer of 2012. The research is part of Townsend’s master’s thesis in forestry.
Little scientific research on low-income landowners exists, and according to Townsend and Leahy, this is the first study in Maine to focus on this group. With the highest percentage of private land ownership in the United States and some of the highest poverty rates, the state provides an ideal setting for the study, according to the researchers’ final technical report, “Listening Beyond the Choir: Finding the Voice of Low-Income Landowners in Maine.”
In the report, Townsend and Leahy list eight recurring themes from the interviews with landowners. Those themes are: Strong connection with the land; property tax concerns; desire for autonomy in the management of one’s land; strong community ties; desire for wilderness or conservation; active trial-and-error learning of management practices; temporal and financial constraints as limiting factors to desired management practices; and preference for “walk-and-talk” and other interactive outreach methods.
While doing research on land management decisions and recreational access with the UMaine Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, Leahy determined the low-income group had been underdocumented. She also found a lot of stereotypes about the group exist, such as not having an emotional connection to the land, harvesting timber when times get tough and not having the same ethics as wealthier owners.
“Whenever you hear assumptions as a researcher you get curious,” Leahy says, adding to her drive to pursue the study.
On average, study participants own 83 acres of forestland and have for 16 years, and 65 percent purchased their land, while the rest inherited it. None of the participants said they were members of a forest organization.
“Love of the land” was the most popular reason participants owned land, while “having something to own,” was second. Other reasons included legacy, hunting, privacy, freedom and happiness, according to the report.
“For those interviewed, their land was not an investment — it was a passion,” the report states.
Despite varying reasons for ownership, nearly all participants share a strong connection with the land and said selling it would be one of the last things they would do.
“We found this group is highly attached to their land and they don’t view it as a savings account,” Leahy says.
Property taxes present the greatest challenge for most of the owners, with many fearing they could lose their land. Tree growth tax incentives were cited by some as providing relief from high tax burdens, while others weren’t aware of the incentive or actively resisted it for fear of government control. A high percentage of participants sought little outside intervention in the management of their lands, the researchers found.
Even with money concerns, many of the participants turned down the $75 offered for their part in the study, Leahy says.
“They would say, ‘It was great to be able to talk about my land with someone for an hour, and I would feel weird taking the money,’” she says.
Leahy says she and Townsend had difficulty recruiting enough participants and had the most luck through ads on Uncle Henry’s and Maine’s Craigslist.
Half of the participants said they have harvested timber from their property, and 40 percent said they would harvest in the future. Researchers also found 15 percent of participants have a written management plan for their land and ranked themselves a two on a scale of one to five for their forestry knowledge.
Even without written plans, most owners are still active in managing their lands, having been self-taught through trial-and-error methods. Nearly all participants agreed there is room for improvement and would welcome advice on better practices, but cited lack of time and money as inhibitors.
Landowners expressed a preference for “walk-and-talk” outreach programs with a forester, but felt it would be unaffordable. With 17 public foresters statewide, Maine lacks a system that could provide those services on a large scale, the report states.
“With 17 foresters and 80,000 family forest households, there isn’t enough of them to go around,” Leahy says.
Townsend and Leahy see a need for free or inexpensive information that could cater to this group. The researchers suggest offering an internship program through the University of Maine and University of Maine Cooperative Extension where forestry students — guided by a faculty member — could provide landowners with the one-on-one interaction they seek, creating a valuable service for them and the students.
Based on the participants’ strong ties to their rural communities, community information sessions led by professional foresters is another possibility the researchers would like to explore. Leahy says she will follow up to determine the specific needs of this group and how best to structure potential programs.
This research is important because it relates to UMaine’s mission as a land grant university to provide information to all residents of Maine, not just the wealthy ones, Leahy says. The study could also shatter the biases held about low-income landowners by documenting this group’s views.
“What we found was that the low-income landowners were not that much different from other landowners,” Leahy says. “How much they loved their land, how they enjoyed puttering around, how their land was one of the most important things they own are common thoughts among all Maine landowners.”
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Maine Public Broadcasting Network interviewed Mary Ellen Camire, a professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine, for the article “Struggling Mainers brace for cuts in food stamps.” Camire said Maine already has significant food security issues and even a minor federal cut to the supplemental nutrition assistance program, or SNAP, would have an effect on those receiving benefits and those supplying food.
The Bangor Daily News cited a Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center report written by Ann Acheson, a research associate for the center, in an article about the Poverty Institute forum hosted by the University of Maine at Machias. According to Acheson’s report, “Poverty in Maine,” 30 percent of children in Washington County live in poverty, and the county also has the highest poverty rate in the state.
The Bangor Daily News spoke with Mark Brewer, a political science professor at the University of Maine, for an analysis about the upcoming gubernatorial election. Brewer predicts the race will “be a very different one” and said Gov. Paul LePage will likely keep his solid conservative base while Mike Michaud and Eliot Cutler fight for support from “anyone but LePage” voters.
Rachel Nelson, a performance artist and intermedia MFA student at the University of Maine, was featured in the arts and culture online journal BOMBLOG. She spoke about identity and power, and creating her work.
The University of Maine Center on Aging has partnered with the Camden International Film Festival to cosponsor the inaugural Engagement Summit, which will pair nonprofit leaders and documentary filmmakers to create social-action campaigns integrated with film screenings.
This year’s summit will focus on aging and is part of a one-year Aging in Maine initiative, which will kick off with a screening of documentary shorts, “Golden Shorts,” at 8 p.m., Aug. 22 at the Camden Amphitheatre.
The summit will continue during the Camden International Film Festival Sept. 26–29, where films on the challenges and opportunities of Maine’s aging population will be screened.
Sept. 28, Maine leaders in the nonprofit and healthcare fields will meet to look at how documentary films on the topic of older adults, their family members and caregivers can help support the work in their fields.
After the festival, the Camden International Film Festival and Working Films will collaborate to screen the aging-related films in several communities in an effort to support putting the strategies developed at the summit into action.
The Camden International Film Festival blog post announcing the event and a trailer for one film, “The Genius of Marian,” can be found online.
GlobaLinks Learning Abroad, one of the largest and most prestigious study abroad organizations in the country, recently honored Orlina Boteva, study abroad adviser at the University of Maine, with an Innovation in Education Abroad Award. Boteva was given the award for her part in developing the Student Teaching Abroad program, which allows UMaine education majors to study abroad in the summer.
Pam Kimball, field experiences and certification program director at UMaine, was also recognized for helping Boteva create the internship program that lets students complete the first half of their student teaching in the United States and the second half in one of the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad locations.
“Through her ability to think outside the box, Boteva created a unique, integrated, international teaching experience available to all education majors at the University of Maine,” the GlobaLinks Learning Abroad announcement states.