Commercial production for new small grain markets will be the focus of the annual Maine Grain Conference March 1 in Bangor, sponsored by University of Maine Cooperative Extension. The conference will be held 8:30 a.m.–4:15 p.m., at the Spectacular Events Center, 395 Griffin Road. Speakers from Maine and Canada will discuss producing food-quality grains, with particular attention to crop rotation, fertility and disease; managing problem weeds in organic small grain crops; local markets and informational resources for small grain-producers; and seed laws and the seed certification process. Preregistration is required by Thursday, Feb. 21. Information on registration and conference fees is available on the conference website. To register by phone, or to request disability accommodations, call Meghan Dill, 207.581.3878.
Archive for the ‘Story Ideas’ Category
University of Maine marine scientist Rhian Waller is heralded as a risk taker in “New Age of Exploration” in the March edition of National Geographic Magazine.
The National Geographic Society, one of the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institutions in the world, is celebrating its 125th birthday in 2013 with a yearlong series that highlights 21st-century explorers who “press the limits.”
Waller, a University of Maine assistant research professor in the School of Marine Sciences who works at the Darling Marine Center in Walpole, Maine, has pressed the limits of diving during more than 40 expeditions around the planet. In a submersible, she once plunged to a depth of 3,600 meters for corals on the New England Seamount chain in 2005. She frequently scuba dives in temperatures of 35 degrees F and below in the name of science.
Her research focuses on how environmental factors such as climate change, fishing and oil exploration affect deep-sea coral ecology and reproduction, as well as what effect that altered life cycle could have on the rest of the marine ecosystem.
“You can imagine all it takes is one trawler or one piece of garbage to land on the coral and suffocate it, and that’s 4,000 years of growth and 4,000 years before that colony will grow back to support 1,000 different invertebrates, which in turn support maybe tens or hundreds of different species of fish,” she says.
The question-and-answer piece with Pat Walters on page 121 of National Geographic Magazine is titled “Ice Water Diver” and includes a portrait by Emmy Award-winning photographer Marco Grob.
In January 2013, Waller conducted research along fjords near Juneau, Alaska, where red tree coral forms essential habitat for rockfish and crustacean species. She is examining how healthy the coral is, when and how much it reproduces, and if there is a specific time of year when it should be protected because it’s reproducing.
Last summer, Waller traveled to Chile to study reproductive ecology of deep-sea corals. National Geographic and the National Science Foundation funded the study, which allowed her to establish three long-term sites that she’ll monitor and from which she’ll take coral samples.
Waller says her goal with each research project is to demonstrate the importance of deep-sea coral systems to the rest of the ocean ecosystem. “If we continue to damage these coral habitats, we’re going to damage the fish and invertebrate populations that live around them,” she says. “Even though they’re out-of-sight, out-of-mind, and many people don’t know they’re there, we have to explore and research why these ecosystems are important.”
Waller’s fascination with the beautiful, mysterious, slow-growing marine animals called corals was sparked when she snorkeled in the Red and Arabian seas as a youth.
While overlooking Tracy Arm fjord near Juneau, Alaska a month ago, Waller, 34, blogged for National Geographic: “This is one of those rare places, where fewer divers than you can count on one hand have dove and seen. Where even the marine radio won’t reach and you’re completely out of touch with the rest of humanity. Where when the sun shines on the top of the mountains and glistens off the aquamarine ocean, the scale of this glacial cut fjord becomes instantly apparent, and you feel so small. I think it’s important we take ourselves places where we can feel small occasionally, to remind us that we are protectors of our lands and our oceans, and to understand it we need to explore it.”
The online edition of National Geographic Magazine was available Feb. 15; the magazine is scheduled to hit newsstands Feb. 26.
The winter issue of UMaine Today magazine features an in-depth look at Waller’s research.
Contact: Beth Staples, 207.581.3777
Maine 4-H, which turns 100 years old this year, has a lot to celebrate — deep roots, a large, supportive family and a lot of successes.
Today, 4-H youth programs enrich children’s lives through technology and hands-on programming. 4-H — which stands for head, hands, heart and health — is the youth development branch of University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Extension leaders and volunteers utilize university resources to develop the life skills and broaden horizons of 30,000 Maine children each year.
If youth ages 5–18 are interested in raising steers, making cheese, shearing goats, learning about tractor safety, sewing, growing vegetables and being a member of a Dairy Quiz Bowl Team, UMaine Extension has opportunities for them.
And if they’re fascinated with rocketry, adventure camps, new media photography, Junior Maine Guiding, public speaking, climate change, website development and LEGO robotics, 4-H has programs for them as well.
While 4-H has grown in size and scope since its inception in Maine in 1913, its core belief is the same — children are the promise for the future.
As 4-H history goes, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, farmers were reluctant to use new agricultural techniques developed by public university researchers, so universities established rural youth programs to introduce the concepts to children, which they eagerly shared with their parents.
Alumni praise 4-H for the positive and lasting impact it’s had in their lives.
Maine Assistant Attorney General Patrick Larson, a 1985 UMaine graduate, enjoyed hunter safety, outdoor programming, photography, cooking and electricity demonstrations as a member of Union River Valley 4-H in Aurora, Maine.
“The strong sense of public service and volunteerism I learned through 4-H helped me give back to the community later in life,” he says. “You learned that that was what you do; you offer your time to help others.”
Jodi Harnden of Wilton, Maine, says community service was also a vital component of the Dandy Crafter 4-H Club. Harnden, a third-year secondary education and mathematics double major at UMaine, says her group gave homemade quilts and crafts to residents and hospital patients, and raffled other crafts to support community service projects, including buying animal oxygen masks for area fire departments.
She says participating in 4-H trips and activities helped her develop skills and confidence. The peer tutor and snare drummer in the UMaine pep band wants to be a high school teacher.
Lisa Phelps, UMaine Extension’s 4-H program administrator, says the key is to empower children and raise aspirations. “I have had parents tell me that because of their child’s involvement in 4-H, he or she will graduate from high school and go on to college,” Phelps says. “And if they were not in 4-H, they would have most likely dropped out of school.”
John Rebar, executive director of UMaine Extension, says the self-directed, hands-on 4-H programs encourage children to learn about the world and all that they can achieve in it. “4-H provides the kinds of experiences that build skills and excitement that are remembered for a lifetime,” he says.
The glowing testimonials are backed by research. In 2008, initial results of Tufts University professor Richard Lerner’s longitudinal study indicated fifth-grade 4-H members across the country earned better grades, were more engaged in school and were more likely to envision themselves attending college than nonmembers.
That research supports UMaine Extension’s most recent efforts to increase UMaine recruitment, enrollment and retention through 4-H Science. The new statewide initiative was awarded a three-year Presidential Request for Visions of University Excellence (PRE-VUE) Program grant last summer as part of the university’s five-year strategic plan, the Blue Sky Project.
Contact: Jennifer O’Leary, 207.299.7751
This spring in Orono, University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer its Recipe to Market series for anyone considering starting a food business.
The four-session program, with two optional sessions, is scheduled March 21 through April 25 at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation. It is a step-by-step course for converting a personal recipe into a business.
Leading the program are Beth Calder, a UMaine Extension food science specialist and associate professor of food science, and Jim McConnon, UMaine Extension business and economics specialist, professor of economics and authority on small and family businesses in Maine. Also participating in the series are UMaine Extension Professor Louis Bassano, Jason Bolton, UMaine Extension assistant professor for food safety, and program planning team member Jesse Moriarity, director of the Foster Center for Student Innovation. A panel discussion will include representatives from the Maine Department of Agriculture, in addition to an insurance expert, banker, attorney and food business owner.
Recipe to Market is an extensive workshop series focusing on such topics as licensing, regulations, food safety, testing and business management skills. The program also delves into regulations on labeling and special considerations for producing acidified canned foods.
In addition, program participants learn about some of the sources available to support them in business development, and how to add value to an existing business.
Recipe to Market is offered twice a year throughout the state, and has generated success stories about how specialty food producers have succeeded in marketing a product that began with a great idea, according to McConnon and Calder. The spring 2013 sessions are the first to be offered at UMaine. In the fall, the program will be offered in Cumberland County. Since the program’s inception in 2007, more than 100 people have participated.
Magic Dilly Beans company founder Brian McCarthy of Belfast, who intends to begin marketing specialty pickled dilly beans this spring, says the Recipe to Market classes he took at UMaine Extension’s Waldo County office saved him time and probably money by introducing him to the many complexities of market research, product pricing, packaging and distribution. Most important, he says, was learning to better understand his target market, his competition and pricing for a successful business start-up.
“I think it was very important, for multiple reasons,” he says. “This course helps you know what it takes. You can have a great recipe, but there’s much more to it. That’s why a lot of people fail in this industry.”
Orono sessions now scheduled:
March 21, 5:30–8 p.m., “Are You an Entrepreneur? What Is Involved?”
March 28, 5:30–9 p.m., “Developing Your Product and Process”
April 4, 5:30–9 p.m., “Business Realities”
April 11, 5:30–9 p.m., “Resource Panel”
April 18, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., individual business counseling
April 25: food pilot plant tours on campus
Recipe to Market program fees are $50 per person; $25 for students. Additional information is available on the UMaine Extension website. Registration deadline is March 14. For reservations or to request disability accommodations, contact Theresa Tilton, 207.942.7396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Jim McConnon, 207.581.3165 / Beth Calder, 207.581.2791
Phi Kappa Sigma will hold an Orono Classic pond hockey tournament at Orono High School, 10 a.m.–3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 16, to raise funds for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society and Phi Kappa Sigma member Jon Cairns, who is going through treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cost is $35 per team; games will be three-on-three with teams of five members (including two alternates), double elimination. Food and hot chocolate will be available. There is no cost to watch the games. For information, email email@example.com.
Members of Beta Theta Pi will hold their 20th Annual Beta Sleep-Out, a fundraiser for Rape Response Services in Bangor, from 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 15–6 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at the organization’s home on Munson Road. Members will remain outside their house and gather around a bonfire throughout the night. This year’s fundraising goal is $10,000. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The University of Maine Department of Art is inviting the public to a free artists’ reception from 5:30–7 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8 at the Lord Hall Gallery to mark the opening of two new exhibits that include works by Maine artists. “Surface Tension: Prints by Scott Minzy” features work by Minzy of Pittston, Maine. “Print Portfolios: Selected Images” includes paintings and drawings from artists across the country and from Maine, including UMaine art faculty members Susan Groce and Susan Camp, and former adjunct art instructor Kristisu Sader. The exhibits will be up through March 15. Lord Hall Gallery is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. For information or to request disability accommodations, call 207.581.3245.
The University of Maine’s ninth annual International Dance Festival, showcasing an array of traditional music, dance and costumes of some of the 400 international students at UMaine, is set for Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Collins Center for the Arts. Two free performances of dances from around the world are scheduled at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Doors open one hour before showtime. For information or to request disability accommodations, call 207.581.3423.
A few years ago, a baby boomer turned 63 every seven seconds in this country, leading the New England University Transportation Center to proclaim that in fewer than 20 years, the United States would be a “nation of Floridas.”
Designers of highways and byways are taking those aging driver demographics into account when planning for the future of transportation in the U.S. That includes research by University of Maine civil engineer Per Garder, who is helping transportation officials in their quest to successfully navigate the road ahead.
With a more than $94,000 grant from the NEUTC, Garder conducted a two-year study of roundabout design and navigability by drivers, including the elderly.
A roundabout is a circular type of intersection around a central island. Drivers travel in one direction around the roundabout and exit onto intersecting roads. In recent years, roundabouts have gained popularity in the United States. Garder says there are currently more than 2,200 in the country and about 20 in Maine.
Garder is an expert on transportation — from roundabouts to rumble strips. His research frequently centers on improving safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
T. Olaf Johnson, then a master’s degree student in civil engineering at the university, coauthored the study.
A hidden video camera observed 2,366 drivers using the roundabout where Maine, Vermont and Texas avenues converge near Bangor International Airport.
Drivers using the roundabout were classified into one of seven age groups: younger than 20, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70 and older. The researchers studied whether age, gender and cell phone use impacted the minimum time interval when an approaching driver could safely join the flow of traffic.
They concluded a roundabout is a viable solution for intersections, regardless of their proximity to schools and retirement housing.
According to the study, the average gap, or headway, needed for the average driver to enter the roundabout was 3.26 seconds.
Drivers younger than 20 needed the longest gap — 4.85 seconds, while drivers 70 and older, on average, needed 3.95 seconds.
“I was surprised that 20-year-olds were not more aggressive,” Garder says, but adds that their longer wait times might be because of their inexperience navigating roundabouts.
Drivers in their 30s waited for a gap of 2.90 seconds before entering the roundabout. Drivers in their 40s waited for a 3.17-second gap, and drivers in their 50s waited for a gap of 3.19 seconds, on average.
Overall, on average, males waited for a 3.19-second gap and females for 3.33.
Because of the limited number of drivers observed in the youngest and oldest age groups, as well as in the cell phone user group, researchers couldn’t validate that large numbers of those drivers would substantially increase waiting times — and therefore lead to a lower level of service.
Garder recommends that a larger study, or a continuation of this study, be done.
When it comes to talking about elderly drivers, Garder says elderly is a relative term.
Today, he says many experienced drivers in their 60s and 70s have good eyesight and decision-making skills. In general, Garder says driving skills deteriorate around the age of 80. According to statistics, he says driver safety peaks in the 50s, followed closely by drivers in their 40s and 60s. Garder says people behind the wheel in their 80s, teenage years and early 20s are statistically the least safe.
Roundabouts in general, says Garder, are the way to go. There are fewer crashes in roundabouts than at intersections with signals, as well as fewer traffic delays and less fuel consumed.
The roundabout used in the study opened in August 2007 at a former designated high-crash location at the intersection of Texas and Maine avenues in Bangor.
In the three years prior to the opening of the roundabout, nine crashes were reported at the intersection; four resulted in injuries and hospitalization was required in three instances. Damages associated with the collisions totaled $300,000, says Garder.
In 2008–2009, three crashes were reported on the roundabout, none of which resulted in injuries. Damages associated with the accidents totaled $8,800, he says.
With regard to traffic flow, drivers may be able to sail straight through roundabouts, just as they may an intersection with a signal light. With routine traffic on a roundabout, though, drivers generally proceed through more quickly than if they have to stop for a red light, he says.
The researchers computed that a driver who travels straight through 10 similar roundabouts daily versus 10 signalized intersections would annually save 14 gallons of gas. If every licensed driver in the country did the same, Garder says 2.7 billion gallons of gas would be saved annually.
Emerging technologies, including automobiles that parallel park themselves and slow in school zones when children are present, show great promise, Garder says. So too do autos in which the driver’s seat shakes if the vehicle crosses the center line.
Garder says these and other technological advances could do for automobile safety what technology has done for large-scale commercial air travel. He credits computerized cockpits with being the main reason there has not been a fatal crash of a large American commercial jet since November 2001.
Defense policy adviser and author Michael Pillsbury, an authority on China, will discuss “A China Policy for the United States” at 4 p.m., Feb. 4 in 107 D.P. Corbett Business Building. The free public talk is presented by the University of Maine School of Policy and International Affairs. Pillsbury, author of China Debates the Future Security Environment, served during the Reagan administration as Assistant Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning and was responsible for implementing the Reagan Doctrine, a program of covert aid to anti-communist guerrillas and resistance movements in the former Soviet Union. Also an analyst with the RAND Corporation in the 1970s, Pillsbury has served on the staff of four U.S. Senate committees and drafted the Senate Labor Committee version of the legislation that enacted the U.S. Institute of Peace in 1984. He also assisted in drafting the legislation to create the National Endowment for Democracy and the annual requirement for a U.S. Department of Defense report on Chinese military power. For information, or to request disability accommodations, call 207.581.3153.