The Free Press reported the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) will hold a “Farming in the Face of Climate Change” conference in Unity on March 7. Participants will hear about trends in Maine’s weather patterns and how on-farm nutrient cycling can help farms build resilience, according to the article. Glen Koehler, a University of Maine Cooperative Extension professional, is scheduled to present “Recent Observations and 30-Year Forecast for Climate Change in Maine.” Ivan Fernandez, a professor of soil science and forest resources at UMaine and a cooperating professor in the Climate Change Institute, will present “Maine’s Climate Future: 2015 Update.”
University of Maine Cooperative Extension is offering a one-year poultry egg business project to 4-H members ages 9–18 and their families.
The statewide project is intended to generate income for participants and provide learning experiences in business, entrepreneurship, keeping records, documentation, problem-solving, food safety and animal husbandry.
Participants will learn and follow state and local regulations for producing and selling poultry eggs. Regular support, including calculating the number of pullets (young hens) to order, will be provided via online webinars. Twelve-week-old Golden Comet chicks will be ordered from a local producer March 15; pullets will begin laying eggs this summer.
Before pullets arrive, participants will draft a business plan and do a survey to determine the approximate number of eggs and hens needed to meet market demand. Participants also will build or secure a facility and equipment for the birds and track expenses, including the purchase of equipment, shavings and feed. Each flock requires at least 14 hours of light per day.
Extension 4-H staff and agricultural specialists will provide training via webinar. Several in-person workshops — the first is Saturday, May 2 — will be centrally located. Limited financial assistance is available.
More information and registration is online. For more information, contact Jessica Brainerd, 581.3877, 800.287.0274 or email@example.com. To participate, youth must be 4-H members in the county in which they live; interested people may contact their local Extension office for information about joining 4-H.
Connecting K–12 students in Maine and around the world with researchers in the field is the goal of a new program offered by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension with support from UMaine’s Climate Change Institute (CCI) and the Maine 4-H Foundation.
Follow a Researcher aims to give students a glimpse into a scientist’s world by providing live expedition updates and facilitating communication between the youth and scientist.
“Science isn’t just white lab coats and pouring things into beakers,” says Charles Rodda, a doctoral student at CCI and the program’s first researcher. In his case, science means putting on crampons, scaling glaciers and drilling ice cores in Peru and Tajikistan to conduct research focused on abrupt climate change.
In March, Rodda and fellow CCI graduate student Kit Hamley will travel to Peru to collect snow and ice from glaciers high in the Andes. During the summer, he will travel to Tajikistan to join an international team that will retrieve and research samples from the world’s largest nonpolar glacier.
While in the field, Rodda will interact with participating classrooms and students by sharing prerecorded weekly videos and live tweeting in response to questions.
“We’re interested to see what they’re interested in,” Rodda says. “We of course are focused on the science, but we’re hiking in some of the most beautiful regions on Earth.”
To interact with students, Rodda will use the inReach Explorer, a global satellite communicator created by Maine-based company DeLorme. The tool allows him to text or tweet directly to students from the glacier. It also will track his movements and generate an online map so students can follow his trek in nearly real time. To document his journey, Rodda also will take several cameras, including a GoPro; a solar panel and battery pack to charge electronics; an iPad; satellite receiver; and memory cards.
In advance of the weekly question-and-answer sessions, prerecorded videos of Rodda explaining aspects of the expedition and research will be released. The videos were created to spark discussion among students and are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.
Rodda, who has participated in several outreach events around the state as a UMaine Extension 4-H STEM Ambassador, says having a science-literate society is important and getting students interested at an early age is essential.
“I think that’s the time — middle and early high school — when students seem to decide if they’re going to be interested in science or not. There’s great research happening here at the University of Maine and we want to make sure students know about it,” he says.
Several schools from around Maine, as well as schools in Iowa, Ohio, Rhode Island and Connecticut have already signed on to take part in the program, which is funded by the Maine 4-H Foundation. Rodda and Hamley plan to visit participating Maine classrooms after they return from Peru in April.
In Peru, Rodda and Hamley will look at signals that have been captured in the ice during El Nino events, or warming in the waters of the equatorial Pacific. They hope to see what El Ninos look like in climate records to determine if those events may be a trigger that shifts the climate system in Central and South America from one phase to another. Rodda completed preliminary research in Peru in 2013.
This summer in Tajikistan, Rodda will work with researchers from around the world to drill a long core that will be split among teams from the University of Idaho, Japan, France, Germany and Austria who will study a variety of the core’s characteristics. Rodda will focus on the ice’s chemistry makeup while others will focus on topics including physical measurements or biological signals, he says.
In advance of Rodda’s Peru trip, youth in grades six through eight took part in a UMaine 4-H Science Saturday workshop where they were challenged with determining how to keep ice core samples frozen and intact for research. Students were given ice and materials and were tasked with designing a container that would keep ice frozen under a heat lamp for a specific amount of time.
In reality, Rodda says bringing ice cores home from Peru is more like “Planes, Trains & Automobiles.” It involves horseback riding, long car rides, even longer airplane rides, and a lot of dry and blue ice, which he describes as heavy-duty freezer packs.
“It’s a great way to get students on campus to sort of demystify the university and show them some of the cool stuff we do at the university and in the sciences,” Rodda says of 4-H Science Saturdays, which are offered by UMaine Extension.
“Follow a Researcher is part of a big effort to connect youth in Maine with current university students. It may be the first time a youth has contact with someone who is going to college, or their first connection to a university,” says Laura Wilson, a 4-H science professional with UMaine Extension. “STEM Ambassadors are working in areas all over the state, from an after-school program in Washburn to programs offered in urban areas of Lewiston and Portland.”
Organizers would like to continue Follow a Researcher after the pilot year, as well as expand it to other disciplines throughout the university.
“By connecting youth to campus, we may be inspiring them to explore higher education, and perhaps come to UMaine in the future,” Wilson says.
Teachers interested in following Rodda on his expeditions may call Jessica Brainerd at 800.287.0274 (in Maine), 581.3877; or email firstname.lastname@example.org. More about Follow a Researcher is online.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Nancy McBrady, the new executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about her position, as well as the important role played by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. McBrady, who is expected to help grow and advocate for Maine’s wild blueberry industry, will work closely with UMaine Extension on research and development issues, according to the article. “The University of Maine and the Cooperative Extension are the backbone” of what the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine does, providing an “invaluable service” in terms of scientific research, she said.
Barbara Murphy, coordinator for the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Harvest for Hunger program, is scheduled to speak at a food security forum in Wiscasset, according to the Boothbay Register. “Local Food, Local Hunger” takes place March 7 and is open to the public. It is sponsored by the Morris Farm in Wiscasset, a working farm and education center that promotes sustainable agriculture and stewardship, and Chewonki, an environmental education organization that promotes sustainable living, according to the article. The forum will address the current state of food insecurity in Lincoln County among families, individuals, children and seniors, the article states.
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.
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), email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 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 email@example.com.
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.