Mark Hutchinson, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator and professor, was interviewed for the Associated Press article, “How to manage animal manure.” Organic and synthetic fertilizers are the most common way to add nutrients to the soil, but animal manure also works well if it can be transported and applied correctly, according to the article. “You’re no longer going to apply fresh manure and two days later do your planting. Rather, you should apply it in the fall, let a cover crop grow and allow the manures to mature,” Hutchinson said. “It’s a food safety issue rather than a nutrient issue. We’ve all seen the outbreaks of E. coli over the past couple of years.” Hutchinson also advised to use manure in moderation and to apply it just before a rain. ABC News ran the AP report.
The Working Waterfront published a University of Maine news release about marine scientist Bob Steneck’s alga research. Steneck is part of an international team that unlocked an underwater time capsule in the North Pacific that has been monitoring the climate for centuries. The time capsule is the long-living, slow-growing alga Clathromorphum nereostratum that creates massive reefs in shallow coastal regions of Alaska’s Aleutian archipelago. These solid calcium carbonate structures have fine growth rings — similar to tree growth rings — which Steneck says contain historical environmental information. The team used a cutting-edge microisotopic imaging technique to reconstruct 120 years of seasonal changes in ocean acidification (pH) in the region. Phys.org also published the UMaine release.
The Weekly reported the University of Maine will host a National History Day (NHD) research workshop March 3 for middle and high school students who are interested in history. Students, along with parents and-or teachers, will meet with UMaine history faculty, graduate students and library staff to help advance their research. Students can come with a fully developed idea or seek help starting a project for the national competition that encourages independent research. Students who participate in NHD choose historical topics and conduct research related to the annual theme. Students present their work in the form of original papers, websites, exhibits, performances or documentary videos. Projects are evaluated by judges in a statewide competition, and state winners move on to the national contest in Washington, D.C. UMaine will host the Maine National History Day on March 28.
The Portland Press Herald reported University of Maine historian Richard Judd will speak April 12 at Left Bank Books in Belfast as part of the Winter Lyceum lecture series. Judd, a Henry David Thoreau scholar, will speak about Thoreau as an environmental icon, according to the article. The free and informal talk begins at 3 p.m.
Farm tractor safety courses taught by University of Maine Cooperative Extension educators and area experts are scheduled in Cumberland, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln, Somerset and Waldo counties. The multi-session courses are designed for new tractor drivers and are appropriate for adults and youth at least 13 years of age.
In Somerset County, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Kennebec County Farm Bureau and Hammond Tractor are sponsoring a five-session 4-H Tractor Safety Course beginning 6–8 p.m. Tuesday, March 31, at Hammond Tractor, 216 Center Road, Fairfield. Classes will be held consecutive Tuesdays; the final session April 28 will include a written exam and tractor-driving course. Instructors are Jeff Bragg, co-owner of Rainbow Valley Farm in Sidney; Neal Caverly, owner of Flood Brothers Farm in Clinton; Cliff Kramer, owner of Kramer’s Inc. in Sidney; and Karen Hatch Gagne, UMaine Extension 4-H educator.
Participants will be instructed how to safely handle tractors and equipment, to identify hazards and to minimize chances of accidents. It is open to interested adults and youth; priority will be given to youth 14–16. The course is required for 14- and 15-year-olds operating farm equipment for hire on farms other than their own. A federal Certificate of Training will be issued upon successful completion.
Preregistration is required. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation or registration form, contact Gagne or Diana Hartley at 207.622.7546, 800.287.1481 (in Maine), firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Schedules and registration information for Cumberland, Kennebec, Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties are online. For more information or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.781.6099, 1.800.287.1471 (in Maine).
University of Maine marine scientist Bob Steneck is part of an international team that has unlocked an underwater time capsule in the North Pacific that has been monitoring the climate for centuries.
The time capsule is the long-living, slow-growing alga Clathromorphum nereostratum that creates massive reefs in shallow coastal regions of Alaska’s Aleutian archipelago. These solid calcium carbonate structures have fine growth rings — similar to tree growth rings — which Steneck says contain historical environmental information.
The team used a cutting-edge microisotopic imaging technique to reconstruct 120 years of seasonal changes in ocean acidification (pH) in the region. The technique uses lasers to measure isotope ratios of the element boron at the scale of tenths of millimeters.
The technique, Steneck says, provides researchers with a detailed historical timeline, including rate of ocean acidification both seasonally and over hundreds of years. The scientists learned that since the late 19th century, the ocean has been acidifying at a rate that corresponds with rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
“The next frontier is to determine millennial records so we get a better sense of what was normal for ocean acidification in cold water coastal zones,” Steneck says.
The alga grows approximately 1 millimeter every three years, so plants collected last year that are nearly half-meter thick could easily be more than 1,000 years old, he says.
“These and similar types of coralline algae are living in all oceans,” says lead researcher Jan Fietzke of the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel in Germany. “Thanks to laser ablation techniques, in the future we can use other samples to look much further back into the past…”
In fact, UMaine postdoctoral associate Doug Rasher is currently in Scotland analyzing specimens that he and Steneck collected last year in Alaska.
The team’s seasonal analyses also indicated strong variations of pH in each year.
The researchers, who also hail from the United Kingdom and Canada, say the annual variation is likely due to large kelp forests in the region that consume large amounts of carbon dioxide in the spring and summer as they grow. The kelp forests then completely die back each winter.
“In a sense, these ecosystems are breathing by inhaling CO2 each summer and releasing it every winter,” says Steneck, who is based at the University of Maine Darling Marine Center in Walpole.
Each year, more carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere, some of which is absorbed by the ocean as carbonic acid. This, in turn, decreases the pH and increases acidity of the ocean, say the researchers.
Steneck says 90 percent of marine resource value in Maine involves shellfish, including lobsters, scallops, oysters and clams. Lobsters and other organisms depend on high pH to create limestone shells and it takes metabolic energy to make limestone.
When the ocean is more acidic, the metabolic cost necessary to make shells increases, he says. Some energy that would normally be allocated to organisms’ immune systems could be compromised, possibly increasing their susceptibility to disease.
Lobsters afflicted with shell disease increased fivefold between 2010 and 2012 in Maine; in southern New England during that time, scientists and lobstermen indicated that one in four lobsters caught was diseased.
Steneck says being able to determine if acidification in a specific coastal area might be affected by extreme rainfall events or sewage treatment, for example, could help create more localized ocean management policy.
To retrieve specimens for the research, Steneck dove in 34-degree water off the Aleutian Islands and used a jackhammer to cut off chunks of the Clathromorphum nereostratum. The chunks were loaded into cargo nets, airlifted to the surface, towed to the boat and lifted aboard with a crane. Onboard, Steneck cut the chunks into pieces for research.
A paper about the findings will be published Feb. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Jonathan Rubin, a professor of resource economics and policy at the University of Maine, was a guest on the George Hale, Ric Tyler Radio Show on WVOM, The Voice of Maine. Rubin spoke about “Energy in Maine,” a report released by the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) and the UMaine’s School of Economics. The study is the fifth quarterly report released by the organizations analyzing critical economic indicators in Maine. It addresses the issues of cost, consumption and production of energy in the state. WVII (Channel 7) also reported on the study.
Research by Michael Socolow, an associate professor of communication and journalism at the University of Maine, was cited in the Politico article, “Unsolicited advice for Lester Holt.” Holt is filling in as anchor of “The NBC Nightly News” while Brian Williams completes his six-month suspension, according to the article. Socolow’s journal article, “‘We should make money on our news’: The problem of profitability in network broadcast journalism history,” was cited in the article. According to Socolow, “The NBC Nightly News” was the network’s second most profitable program in 1968. He also said former CBS News anchor Dan Rather’s ego and eccentricities were tolerated as long as his show led the ratings and continued to make profits, the article states.
WVII (Channel 7) reported University of Maine student Marie Miller is planning to take part in this summer’s 4K for Cancer — a 4,000-mile team run from California to New York that aims to raise awareness of cancer and raise money for cancer research. Miller said she was inspired to make a difference after her grandfather died from the disease, according to the report. UMaine student Matt Dexter completed the run last year.
WABI (Channel 5) reported brothers of the University of Maine fraternity Beta Theta Pi held their 22nd annual sleep out to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault services. Members of the fraternity stayed outside from 6 p.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday. All proceeds from the event go toward Rape Response Services in Bangor, according to the report.
WVII (Channel 7) previewed Dan Estabrook’s exhibit “King & Clown” at the University of Maine Museum of Art (UMMA) in downtown Bangor through March 21. The museum is offering Art @ Noon on March 4. The event is a free, informal gallery talk led by George Kinghorn, director and curator of UMMA, who will discuss Estabrook’s exhibit and selections from the permanent collection, according to the report. WVII also reported UMMA will offer free admission to the public in 2015 as the result of a gift from Penobscot Financial Advisors (PFA). “We are extremely appreciative of PFA’s support and its belief that visual arts and culture are a vital component of Bangor’s continued growth,” Kinghorn said.
Robert Seymour, the Curtis Hutchins Professor of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, was quoted in the Free Press article, “Maine’s top forestry expert debunks the claim that it’s good forestry to overcut for 20 years.” Seymour stated his opposition to the ramped up cutting by Bureau of Parks and Lands that aims to raise money by cutting more wood than the forest can grow for the next 20 years, according to the article. Seymour, who has advised the bureau on how to effectively manage the public forests since its formation three decades ago, said there is no scientific reason to overcut. He called the argument to cut trees before they die from invasive insects hysteria and said the push to cut more wood would only raise money in the short term. “If you need to do this to make money, just say it,” he said.
On Feb. 20, the Maine Development Foundation (MDF) and the University of Maine’s School of Economics released the fifth quarterly report analyzing critical economic indicators in Maine.
The latest report, “Energy in Maine,” addresses the issues of cost, consumption and production of energy in the state. Improvements in efficiency and further diversification can give Maine people and businesses more options and greater flexibility to adjust to changing energy markets, according to the MDF news release.
Mario Teisl, director of the UMaine School of Economics and professor of resource economics and policy, is overseeing the series of reports that further explore the economic indicators in “Measures of Growth in Focus,” an annual report issued by the Maine Economic Growth Council.
The full “Energy in Maine” report is online.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer Cooking for Crowds, a food safety training workshop for volunteer cooks, 1–4:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 1, at UMaine Regional Learning Center, 75 Clearwater Drive, Suite 104, Falmouth.
The workshop offers up-to-date information on how to safely handle, transport, store and prepare food for large groups, including at soup kitchens, church suppers, food pantries and community fundraisers. The class meets the Good Shepherd Food-Bank food safety training requirements.
Cost is $15 per person; scholarships are available. Register online by March 27. For more information, or to request a disability accommodation, call 207.781.6099, 800.287.1471 (in Maine). Additional sessions will be offered Thursday, April 16 and Tuesday, April 28 in Falmouth. Volunteer cooks who want to request a workshop can visit the website, call 207.781.6099 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations are being accepted for this year’s Presidential Outstanding Teaching, Public Service Achievement, and Research and Creative Achievement Awards. Recipients will be honored at the Faculty Recognition Luncheon held between Commencement ceremonies on May 9. Deadline for completed nomination forms and materials is March 20. Nomination forms and award criteria are online.
Sean Birkel, the new Maine State Climatologist and a research assistant professor with the University of Maine Climate Change Institute, spoke with the Bangor Daily News for the article, “Old-timers still remember when Penobscot Bay froze.” Birkel said the upper Penobscot Bay used to freeze once or twice a decade during the 1800s and until the early years of the 20th century. A long-lasting cold snap in 1915 caused the bay to freeze as far south as Rockland and as far east as Deer Isle, according to the article. Birkel said the frozen bay was hard for people who were used to having easy access to trade by ship. He added for the bay to freeze there has to be cold overlying air, and although this winter has brought a lot of snowfall, it hasn’t been cold enough for long enough to freeze the bay. The Sun Journal also carried the BDN report.
Jesse Moriarity, coordinator of the University of Maine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation, and Jennifer Hooper, entrepreneur and mentor coordinator at the Foster Center, were interviewed for a Bangor Daily News article about the Top Gun program they help manage. The Top Gun program is offered by Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development (MCED) and UMaine’s Target Technology Incubator as part of the Blackstone Accelerates Growth initiative. Participants of the Top Gun entrepreneur accelerator program attend classes in Portland, Orono or Rockland and work with mentors who will help them apply what they have learned to accelerate growth. The program began in 2009 and has graduated 60 Maine companies to date, according to the article, which also quoted several of the program’s alumni. “Common areas of interest are learning how to better market themselves, expand distribution, add a location, raise capital, hire employees, and balance their business with their life,” Hooper said of companies in the program. The Top Gun program also will be the focus of Deb Neuman’s “Back to Business” radio show 2 p.m. Feb. 22 on 103.9 and 101.3 FM, The Voice of Maine.
The BDN also published an article featuring the three contestants of the next Big Gig pitch-off event Feb. 24 at Husson University in Bangor. The Big Gig is a network for innovators and entrepreneurs in the Orono, Old Town and Bangor areas that was started by a partnership between UMaine, Old Town, Orono and Husson University. It is supported by Blackstone Accelerates Growth. Event participants were preselected to deliver a three-minute elevator pitch about their business idea to a panel of judges and attendees. The winner will receive $250 and have the opportunity to compete at the Big Gig Finale in April for a $1,500 prize, the article states.
Lani Carlson, Maine AgrAbility Project coordinator with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for a report about the program that assists farmers, loggers and fishermen with disabilities and chronic illnesses so they may remain active in production agriculture. Maine is one of 23 states that takes part in the USDA-funded program, according to the report. In Maine, AgrAbility is a nonprofit partnership between UMaine Extension, Goodwill Industries of Northern New England and Alpha One. Carlson said the partners perform an on-site consultation and then determine an action plan. “So we essentially do that farmer-speak, where we come out and we understand agriculture, and then the other partners understand the body functions,” she said. “So they understand what implementations need to be taken to keep the farmer farming.”
Anne Lichtenwalner, a professor and Extension veterinarian at the University of Maine and director of UMaine’s Animal Health Laboratory, was quoted in the Bangor Daily News article, “Maine Wildlife Park staff say humans’ relationship with wild animals requires delicate balance.” Staff at the park in Gray, which is run by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, care for the animals while educating the public about the animals’ needs and instincts, according to the article. Lichtenwalner said park staff can eliminate humanizing wild animals by avoiding eye contact, acting dominant and feeding the animals without letting them know humans are nearby. She said recognizing an animal’s “wild side” is difficult for people to grasp because of what she calls the “Disney” effect. “We don’t even recognize each other’s autonomy, so it’s very natural that we make assumptions about animals and their choices that are reflective of how we think about our daily lives,” Lichtenwalner said.
The University of Maine Cooperative Extension was mentioned in a Sun Journal article advancing the Portland Flower Show that runs March 5–9. It is one of the last remaining judged flower shows of its kind in northern New England, according to a show organizer. The show’s 13 exhibitors will interpret the theme “Storybook Gardens” in their displays, the article states. During the event, gardening experts from the UMaine Extension Master Gardener’s program will manage a Children’s Discovery Garden.