The Bangor Daily News spoke with Ian Bricknell, University of Maine marine biology professor, and graduate student Chris Roy about research being conducted on molded concrete boat moorings and their effect on the marine habitat.
Archive for the ‘Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture’ Category
WLBZ (Channel 2) recently spoke to Robert Steneck, professor in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine’s Darling Center, and Andrew Pershing, professor in the Gulf of Maine Research Institute at UMaine, about the warming temperatures in the Gulf of Maine and how they are effecting fishermen and scientists. Steneck talked about the effects on the lobster industry and Pershing focused on the warming temperatures and what that means for certain species.
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network spoke with Rick Kersbergen, University of Maine Cooperative Extension educator on sustainable dairy and forage systems, about the return of small farms. Despite the decline of the family farm over the years, Kersbergen says interest in farming is at a record high in Maine.
A free exercise program designed to prevent and help reverse the symptoms of osteoporosis through strength training, balance exercises and health education is being offered in eight locations in eastern Maine by the University of Maine Center on Aging’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
The RSVP Bone Builders Osteoporosis Exercise and Prevention Program, funded by a grant from the United Way of Eastern Maine, is an evidence-based program developed by Tufts University researchers who determined that adults can improve their strength and fitness at any age.
Researchers found a low-impact weight training exercise program can improve balance, bone density and muscle strength. These improvements, along with education that focuses on diet, medications and lifestyle can also help prevent the risk of falls.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which bone density decreases, making the bones thin and brittle and easily broken or fractured. One out of every two women and one out of every four men over 50 will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Research indicates that proper exercise can stress and stimulate bones, increasing bone density and making bones stronger.
The exercise portion of the UMaine Bone Builders class helps improve overall balance and flexibility, which leads to more confidence in walking in different environments and rebounding from falls.
Another major element of the program is the education focusing not only on diet and medications for osteoporosis, but also lifestyle, which includes how to maintain a home, reach for objects on high shelves, or get in and out of a vehicle safely to avoid falls and fractures.
The Bone Builders program offers free hour-and-a-half-long classes twice a week for six-month sessions. Classes currently are running at the Women’s Health Resource Library in Milbridge, the Ellsworth Senior Center, Island Community Center in Stonington, Parker Ridge in Blue Hill, Avalon Village in Hampden, Sunbury Village in Bangor, Brewer’s Housing Authority, and the Old Town-Orono YMCA.
Classes are limited to 15 participants, and spots are currently available at the Brewer and Hampden locations.
Those who wish to attend must register and get medical clearance from a licensed health care provider.
RSVP members who have been trained by certified health and fitness consultant Kevin Dunton lead the Bone Builders classes. There are two volunteer lay leaders per class.
The exercises in the class range from warm-up and cool-down stretches to movements using hand and ankle weights.
“The RSVP staff and lay leaders are dedicated to providing class participants with a safe and comfortable atmosphere for an exercise regimen which can be adjusted to an individual’s condition whether or not they have engaged in regular exercise over the years,” Program Director Paula Burnett says.
The Center on Aging’s RSVP is one of three national senior service corps programs sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service whose “mission is to invest the skills and life experiences to make a difference for generations in Eastern Maine through volunteer service,” Burnett says.
For more information on how to participate or serve as a volunteer lay leader, call Paula Burnett, 207.262.7926.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.581.3747
Pat and Barb Cyr of Millinocket slept in shifts after their daughter Courtney was born in 1992.
Courtney was diagnosed with impaired cognition function, cerebral palsy and autism, and she required constant care when she was awake, which was most of the time. Courtney slept a few hours a day, if that. Barb says when Courtney was 18 months old she was hospitalized and treated after barely closing her eyes for 11 days.
When Courtney was 3 and becoming more mobile, the couple sought to buy her a protective pediatric bed but their insurance company wouldn’t help with the purchase.
Soon after, Pat sketched a design of a special bed on a napkin while having lunch at Applebee’s. He tweaked the pattern, then built Courtney a 7-foot-long, 6-foot-high four-poster bed.
He used sturdy awning fabric — with built-in window netting — as side and end panels. The internal sleeping compartment was designed to keep Courtney from falling out of bed and wandering at night. The front panel had a large zippered opening. The hardwood frame was plenty sturdy to support her when she bounced. And the interior compartment was padded and tightly fitted to protect her from banging her head or burrowing under the mattress.
Courtney felt safe and was content in her special bed, Pat says. She slept more and so too did Pat and Barb.
In 2003, Great Northern Paper laid off 48-year-old Pat, and 1,400 other employees. Pat had been at the mill 30 years; he started soon after he graduated from Stearns High School. Pat loved being a beater engineer, mixing pulp with water, chemicals and dye to turn it into paper.
He knew the job and did it well.
While contemplating his future, Pat discovered he had a knack for repairing PCs; he fixed a computer that Barb had bought to use for her college classes. He subsequently enrolled and excelled in courses at Eastern Maine Community College, then started a computer repair business, ComputerFixx. The business, he says, is very enjoyable and thriving.
But his invention that had changed his family’s life wasn’t far from his mind. Pat realized if a bed could so drastically improve Courtney’s life, it could also help other families in similar circumstances.
He dusted off the napkin design and he and his cousin Ron Cyr, a furniture maker, began building “Courtney Beds.” After obtaining a patent and approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on the design in 2008, they built and sold seven beds. In 2009, they built and sold seven more.
While Pat was confident in his and Ron’s carpentry skills and work ethic, he knew he needed help with a business plan. So he asked for it. U.S. Congressman Mike Michaud, who had previously worked 29 years at Great Northern Paper, listened.
In 2009, help arrived.
Michaud was instrumental in securing a $1.82 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to fund the Knowledge Transfer Alliance (KTA) at the University of Maine.
The grant, created to help communities and businesses like Cyr’s prevail through economic hardships caused by the Great Recession and natural disasters, has grown to assist all Maine companies seeking engineering, manufacturing or business expertise.
Hugh Stevens directs the KTA, which is overseen by George Criner, director of the School of Economics; and John Mahon, a professor in the Maine Business School.
UMaine business and economics students as well as faculty members from business, economics, engineering, UMaine Cooperative Extension, the Foster Center for Student Innovation and Forest Bioproducts Research Institute all pitch in.
“We get them (business owners) to the right place on their terms,” says Stevens of the KTA staff. “We’re serving them. It’s gratifying to help them through their rough spots.”
Pat says he received considerable free expert advice from the KTA, in particular from previous employees Bernardita Silva and Sue Medley. “They helped me create and facilitate my business acumen,” he says.
KTA provides a range of valuable services, including consulting, market and financial analyses, software training, website management, branding, sales strategy and production and accounting guidance.
That’s the goal of the initiative — to transfer the knowledge and information of UMaine professors and staff to Maine businesspeople.
Since 2009, Stevens says KTA has assisted about 300 Maine businesses. Its motto is “Helping Maine communities and business overcome hardships — one business at a time.”
Since utilizing KTA’s counsel, Pat has steadily increased the number of Courtney Beds he’s constructed and sold. After selling seven beds in 2009, he sold 16 in 2010; 37 in 2011; and 50 in 2012. Courtney Bed, Inc. now operates out of two shops with six employees.
Children in the United States, Canada and Australia are sleeping in Courtney Beds. Families from Israel, Japan, Mexico, Guatemala and most of Western Europe have inquired about the invention. Five families requested, and received help through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to purchase beds, Pat says.
Pat sells the FDA-approved hospital beds, which are comprised of 27 pieces of Maine ash, for $4,400.
The customer feedback, Pat says, is priceless. With each Courtney Bed he ships out the door, he knows he’s helping improve lives, one family at a time.
“Some folks have called and started crying,” Pat says. “They say they can’t believe how our bed has changed their lives.”
Pat says Courtney, who will be 21 in December, is thriving. She still sleeps in a bed named in her honor. “Barb and I have been God-blessed,” Pat says. “Courtney has a good life. She’s growing at her own pace and tee-hees and giggles much of every day.”
And she sleeps at night.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
The second annual UMaine Business Challenge for student entrepreneurs recently awarded thousands of dollars in cash and consulting services to a University of Southern Maine student and three UMaine finalists.
Tom Myers, a USM mechanical engineering student from Gray, Maine, won the grand prize of $5,000, as well as the $4,000 technology prize and consulting services donated by sponsors to promote his business, ABC Firewood.
Spencer Wood, a UMaine communications and human development double major from Salisbury, N.H., won the second-place prize of $1,000, as well as patent and law consulting for his business, Body Guard Fitness.
The other finalists, Henry Bonneau, a UMaine civil engineering major from Skowhegan who owns Bonneau & Son Excavation, and Matthew Hodgkin, a UMaine animal science major from Colebrook, Conn., who co-owns LobsteRX, won consulting time with sponsors and judges.
The UMaine Business Challenge (UBC) was started by 2010 UMaine graduates Owen McCarthy, James Morin, Matt Ciampa and Sangam Lama to support and promote new businesses started by UMaine students and to improve Maine’s economy. This year, the team was joined by marketing representative Hannah Hudson, also a 2010 UMaine graduate.
“We started UBC because we are passionate about UMaine and the state,” McCarthy says. “We saw this as an opportunity to pay it forward. It is our goal to see UBC alumni leading the state in economic growth and development while giving back to the university in their time, talent and treasure.”
The competition is sponsored by Maine Technology Institute, Blackstone Accelerates Growth, University Credit Union, UMaine Class of 1944, UMaine Class of 1980, UMaine Class of 2010, Maine Business School, University of Southern Maine, Opticliff ESQ, The Swanson Group LLC, Maine News Simply and WLOB Radio.
The four finalists were chosen after rounds of competition including an intent to participate stage, questionnaire and executive summary. The finalists were then asked to submit complete business plans to a panel of judges including James Page, University of Maine System chancellor; Jesse Moriarity, coordinator of UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation; Jason Harkins, Maine Business School professor; John F. Burns, fund manager for Small Enterprise Growth, Maine’s Venture Capital Fund; Meredith Strang Burgess, president and CEO of Burgess Advertising & Marketing; Gregory Cavanaugh, program manager for external programs at University of Southern Maine; and Marc Brunelle and Brent Larlee, UMaine alumni and entrepreneurs.
The finalists share the same goal of promoting businesses in Maine.
Tom Myers, ABC Firewood
The idea for Myers’ startup business began when he came across a YouTube video of a commercially produced firewood processor.
“I was analyzing the production process and got thinking about all the inefficiencies in the design,” Myers says. “I thought about how I would do things differently and the idea grew from there.”
Myers, who will graduate in 2015, says he wants his business to be a leading provider in high-quality, affordable firewood in southern Maine.
“Through the use of innovative, custom-designed processing equipment we will be able to keep production rates and quality high while keeping costs down to a minimum,” Myers says. “We are also aiming to completely change the way firewood is sold.”
Myers says there is currently no quantifiable number as to how much heat a delivery of wood produces. ABC Firewood plans to use a new method for quantifying the heat output of a wood delivery to ensure clients are getting the most for their money and to help weed out dishonest suppliers.
Winning first place in the challenge as well as the technology prize through MTI and Blackstone will allow Myers to begin operations immediately through startup funds, establishing contacts and strengthening business skills.
“By winning, my business plan was suddenly backed and supported by many different people all vowing for its viability,” Myers says. “It gave me the confidence and knowledge necessary to get the ball rolling and start my own business. I think this is a huge obstacle to overcome for any entrepreneur, but an even larger one for a young entrepreneur.”
Spencer Wood, Body Guard Fitness
Wood, who graduated in May and plans to return to UMaine to get his master’s degree in human development, got the idea for his business while playing for the UMaine football team.
“I needed something to keep my body in peak physical condition that I could take on the road and use in the residence halls when I was living on campus,” Wood says.
He describes his business as “the first of its kind.”
“This revolutionary product in full-body fitness and mobility will transform the fitness industry and bodies alike,” Wood says. “It is a unique combination of push-up grip and resistance-band technologies that come together to provide a comprehensive and demanding full-body workout.”
Wood’s goal is for the Body Guard to become a household name and a familiar product in the fitness world. He wants his product to be known for giving users confidence.
Since the challenge, Wood has worked with some of the judges and the Foster Center and is confident the money and counseling he won will greatly affect his business.
“If my product is patentable, which it looks it is, the sky will be the limit,” Wood says.
Henry Bonneau, Bonneau & Son Excavation
Bonneau started his excavation business in May 2012 with a 4-yard dump truck, skid steer and backhoe to complete lawn and residential drainage work. By the end of the summer, he was able to purchase a bulldozer that allowed him to also clear land, put in driveways, dig septic systems and complete large-scale landscaping.
Bonneau says his advertising strategy and eagerness to find work helped him have a successful first year and allowed him to purchase a full-sized 18-yard dump truck.
Last summer’s jobs included septic systems and house lots, as well as larger projects such as working on a $350,000 residential reconstruction project and a land rehabilitation and repair project for Central Maine Power.
Bonneau, who plans to graduate in 2015, wants his company to grow and differentiate itself from other Maine contractors.
“I aspire to emphasize green and ‘low-impact’ construction while incorporating today’s most innovative construction methods and materials,” Bonneau says, adding he already has plans to construct a bioretention cell, or natural soil filter, and look into innovative materials such as tire-derived aggregates.
Bonneau believes the consulting services he won and connections he made from the UMaine Business Challenge will benefit his company.
“I suggest any and all entrepreneurs who are aware of this competition and are anxious to get their business off the ground [or in my case, develop it further] should take full advantage of this opportunity,” Bonneau says.
Matthew Hodgkin, LobsteRX
Hodgkin, who expects to graduate in May 2015, decided to start a business with his partners, Lobster Institute Executive Director Robert Bayer, Lobster Institute Associate Director Cathy Billings, and Stewart Hardison, a business partner from outside the UMaine community, after the four had a conversation about lobster industry waste.
“Our business is taking the lobster processing by-products and trying to find uses for them,” Hodgkin says. “So far we have had success in that we have come across certain antiviral and antineoplastic properties.”
Hodgkin and his partners aim to create products from lobster-processing industry waste. Their goal is to get more money to lobstermen and improve Maine’s economy.
Contact: Elyse Kahl, 207.381.3747
David Fuller, agriculture and nontimber forest products professional and fiddlehead expert with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, spoke with the Portland Press Herald about fiddlehead characteristics and this year’s harvest. A video of Fuller and the plants is also featured with the article.
A University of Maine study and Cooperative Extension specialists were cited in the Mainebiz article “Potato farmers innovate to find new markets.” The 2010 study found Maine’s potato industry could be well suited to grow stock for the bioplastic industry. John Jemison, water quality and soil specialist and Jim Dwyer, crops specialist with UMaine Extension, were also interviewed about the state’s potato industry.
Field Notes recently interviewed University of Maine professor of glaciology Gordon Hamilton about his research. Hamilton plans to use his knowledge of glaciers and their flow patterns to aid the U.S. government in uncovering World War II plane wreckage in Greenland.