The University of Maine’s Maynard F. Jordan Planetarium in Wingate Hall will hold its final show April 27, WABI (Channel 5) and WVII (Channel 7) reported. The planetarium, which has been open to students and the public since 1954, will close its doors as the university prepares to open the new Emera Astronomy Center in the fall. Alan Davenport, the planetarium’s director, said the old projection system has served the community well, teaching thousands of children and other visitors about astronomy, but the new technology at the Emera Astronomy Center will allow visitors to experience more than ever before.
James McConnon, a University of Maine economics professor and a business and economics specialist with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with WVII (Channel 7) for a report about an increase in the number of women who own businesses. According to the report, the number of women-owned businesses in Maine has grown by 34 percent since 1997, but that number is about half of the national trend, with Maine ranking 47th in the country. However, the number of people employed by women-owned firms has grown by 6 percent, and trends are encouraging. “Women business owners have continued to grow at a rate faster than male business owners in Maine and nationally. I think that’s good to see,” said McConnon.
WABI (Channel 5) reported on a new scholarship fund started by the Maine Steiners, the University of Maine’s oldest a cappella group. With the establishment of the Maine Steiners Vocal Music Scholarship Fund, the group became the first performing arts student organization to establish an endowed scholarship fund with the University of Maine Foundation. “We decided we just wanted to give back to the school’s performing arts and the university which has given us so much,” said Morgan Cates, the group’s business manager, who also spoke about the group’s diverse members and vocal influences. WABI also interviewed Robert Laraway, the Steiners’ music director, who spoke about the high standards the group holds when taking on new members and their drive to always be better musicians.
WVII (Channel 7) and The Maine Edge previewed the 20th annual HOPE Festival that will be held Saturday, April 26 at the University of Maine’s New Balance Student Recreation Center. The festival, which stands for Help Organize Peace Earthwide, is put on by the Peace and Justice Center of Eastern Maine as a way to celebrate the Earth and the people on it. More than 60 organizations that deal with the environment will be in attendance. Live entertainment and family-friendly activities will also be on hand at the free event.
The Associated Press spoke with Rick Wahle, a University of Maine research professor at the Darling Marine Center, and cited UMaine research for a report about the steady decline in the number of baby lobsters settling off the coast of Maine and how the decrease could put an end to recent record catches. The article cited a UMaine survey of 11 Gulf of Maine locations that found young lobsters have declined by more than half of their 2007 levels. UMaine divers have been tracking the settlement rates of Maine lobsters since the late 1980s, according to the article. Wahle said the lobsters could be thinning out for many reasons, including rising ocean temperature. He added the lobster decline is “telling a story of gradually — and more recently rapidly — declining settlement in the Gulf of Maine on a widespread basis,” which is raising concern. ABC News, Yahoo News, NBC News, Portland Press Herald, Morning Sentinel and WABI (Channel 5) carried the AP report.
The latest post on the Portland Press Herald blog, “The Franco-American blog: News and notes from Maine’s French culture,” focused on the upcoming University of Maine spring symposium, “In and Out of Place: Finding Home in Franco America.” UMaine’s Franco-American Centre and Franco American Studies program will host the series of free events April 25–26 on the Orono campus. The symposium is sponsored by the UMaine Humanities Initiative and le Ministère des Relations internationales, Francophonie et Commerce extérieur du Québec, and will feature readings from acclaimed writers, panel discussions by scholars from New England and Canada, and a screening of the film “Le grand Jack (Jack Kerouac’s Road: A Franco-American Odyssey)” directed by Herménégilde Chiasson.
Mary Ellen Camire, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine, was quoted in the CTW Features article “Avoid the snack traps.” Camire said to get the most nutritional benefits from snacks, people should look at their eating habits and decide what types of foods are lacking and make up for them with snacks. She gives the example of snacking on yogurt in the morning and string cheese in the afternoon if dairy intake is a concern. She also suggested keeping snacks at 200 calories or less. Philly.com and Quad Cities Online carried the report.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with Nory Jones, an e-commerce specialist and professor of management information systems at the University of Maine, for the report “Cash-strapped Mainers eyeing alternative currencies.” Jones said alternative currencies such as the Bitcoin are unstable and volatile, and even though the currency has gained some legitimacy, she doesn’t think it’s enough to make the coins useful. Jones said in order for virtual currency to be legitimate, she thinks it’s going to need some form of governmental support.
Research and outreach efforts being done at the University of Maine to learn more about the devastating effects of the emerald ash borer were mentioned in a Morning Sentinel article about how the Asian beetles are threatening the livelihood of Maine’s American Indian basket makers by destroying ash trees, which are needed to create the traditional baskets. The basket makers are part of an anti-borer coalition that includes university researchers, entomologists and forestry officials. For the last several years, the faculty at UMaine’s Senator George J. Mitchell Center and Maine’s Sustainability Solutions Initiative have hosted an annual symposium about the invasive pests. Last year, the event drew 65 people from a variety of state and federal agencies, entomologists and Wabanakis. The article also stated UMaine researchers have begun mapping existing ash and collecting and preserving ash seeds that could be replanted after a potential wave of devastation.
Research being conducted at the University of Maine was cited in the Maine Public Broadcasting Network report “Maine bracing for another spruce budworm outbreak.” The spruce budworm, one of the most damaging native insects of spruce and fir trees, is currently attacking trees in Quebec, and Maine forestry officials fear the insect could start destroying state forests in the next two to four years. The last outbreak in Maine began around 1970 and ended in 1985, killing more than 20 percent of the state’s fir trees, according to the Maine Forest Products Council. Patrick Strauch of the Maine Forest Products Council, told MPBN this time landowners hope to stay ahead of the bug and do targeted, presalvage cutting. Researchers at the University of Maine are helping with the preventative effort by conducting modeling to help landowners plan ahead.