Making a Difference
For more than 90 years, University of Maine Cooperative Extension has worked with Maine volunteers to offer community-driven, research-based educational programs in every county. Our annual report features highlights of recent accomplishments and the difference we make in the lives of Maine citizens and their communities.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s successful educational programs result from a federal, state and county government partnership. Since 1919, when the Maine Legislature passed the County Extension Act*, the University of Maine has been in all Maine communities with a county office whose operations are funded by county government. Our educational programs anticipate and respond to local and state needs and issues. We also communicate those issues and opportunities to UMaine faculty to influence their research and development plans.
A sampling of our educational program areas:
- Agriculture Business & Community
- Food & Health
- Gardening & Horticulture
- Home, Family & Youth
- Natural Resources
- Insect & Plant Disease
- Management Safety & Preparedness
Washington County Highlights
- Sixteen business owners have participated in individual business counseling and received information on a variety of subjects important to the success of their business. Topics discussed include business planning, marketing, financing, recordkeeping, pricing, etc.
- Each year a variety of business skill-building workshops are offered free to current or prospective business owners. Setting a profitable price is a challenging issue for many business owners. Eleven business owners participated in a free workshop “Pricing for Profit” that will help them improve their business.
- Counseling local business owners attending the celebration of National Entrepreneurship Week who had questions about starting or expanding a business in Washington County. The event was held on the campus of the University of Maine at Machias.
- Extension collaborated with a faculty member from the University of Maine at Machias to inventory the campus resources that can provide support for aspiring or existing entrepreneurs in Washington County. The information will be combined with information from other campus locations in an easily accessible format to identify the educational resources across the University of Maine System to support economic growth in Maine.
- The online library provides business owners with a wealth of resources and information on all aspects of starting, improving or growing a business in Maine.
- Kids Can Grow is a summer-long youth gardening program designed to teach children how to grow their own food and make healthy eating choices. In 2012, this program was offered for the first time in Washington County in collaboration with Mano en Mano in Milbridge. Through a series of hands-on classes, seven Latino children built, planted, tended and harvested their own raised-bed gardens, and cooked nutritious meals with fresh garden produce. Extension Educator Marjorie Peronto, Extension Nutrition Associate Dorice Timko and three Master Gardener Volunteers led this program.
- Participants in the 2011 Maine Harvest for Hunger program donated 450 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits to Washington County food pantries. Volunteers grew and gave this food from their home gardens or community gardens. Statewide, 300,000 pounds of produce valued at $500,000 was grown and donated to those in need through this Cooperative Extension sponsored program.
- The University of Maine Cooperative Extension launched a statewide initiative to raise funds to support the Master Gardener Volunteers program. An online sale of highbush blueberry plants was conducted, with a twist. In addition to receiving healthy blueberry bushes, participants enter into a three-year educational program, where they receive systematic, timely expert advice (via email and online links) on growing blueberries at every stage. Our specially developed website provides fact sheets and instructional videos on how to choose a planting site, test and amend the soil, plant, prune and harvest blueberries. As the plants begin to bear fruit, our website will provide participants with healthy recipes, nutritional information, and instructions on how to preserve the harvest. Funds raised from the sale of highbush blueberries will help support local Master Gardener Volunteer projects including community gardens and the Maine Harvest For Hunger program, and help provide scholarships to Master Gardener trainees.
- Extension Educator Marjorie Peronto produced three instructional videos that that are easily accessed by our online audiences: How to Prune a Lilac, Pruning Ornamental Trees, Worm Composting. UMaine Extension has 140 instructional online videos on gardening, farming, water quality, parenting, youth development, nutrition, food preservation, food safety, small business development and energy conservation. These can all be viewed at our YouTube channel. Extension Educator Marjorie Peronto and Healthy Acadia’s Farm to School Coordinator Regina Grabovac conducted a five-part School Garden 101 training for the staff of Washington County schools. Teachers learned how to use school gardens to enhance their schools’ curriculum and supply fresh produce to the school cafeteria. Fourteen staff members from five schools (Eastport, Jonesboro, Jonesport, Narraguagus and Robbinston) successfully completed this course and went on to incorporate garden-based learning into their school curricula.
- In 2011, 21 Master Gardener Volunteers contributed 806 hours of labor valued at $13,323.18 towards the following community projects: community demonstration gardens to feed the hungry in Trescott (CCLC), Machias (Extension Office) and Milbridge (Maine Seacoast Mission); work with school gardens at Jonesboro Elementary, Shead High School, Eastport Elementary, Narraguagus High School, Wesley Elementary and Cutler Elementary; historic garden restoration in Machias (Burnham Tavern), Machiasport (Gates House), and Pembroke (Historical Society); community beautification projects in Cutler (town circle) and Lubec (Lost Fishermen’s Memorial), and a Kids Can Grow youth gardening program in Milbridge.
- During the past year, over 2400 youth between the ages of 5 and 19 participated in a variety of 4-H activities delivered through in-school and after-school programs, day camps, special interest groups and the 4-H club model. Programs and projects focus on hands-on learning experiences that teach life skills such as decision making, cooperation, critical thinking and goal setting and include good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
- Summer day camp programs featuring gears, pulleys and wheels, nutrition highlighting native cranberries, and physical fitness activities reached 66 campers between the ages of six and nine, from 20 communities.Twelve youth leaders practiced leadership and gained work-force prep skills as they donated 20 hours of time to attend training and lead young campers through a variety of activities.
- 4-H activities in Washington County were supported by 53 adult volunteers and 13 youth volunteers dedicating over 1000 hours of service to their communities.
- The 6th Annual 4-H Robotics Expo was held with over 80 youth in attendance from 10 schools in Washington County. The youth gathered to spend the day learning about and sharing their knowledge of robotics. Faculty members from University of Maine Machias and Orono campus offered a variety of science-based workshops.
- Nineteen youth completed six hours of 4-H Super Sitter training. Participants learned about children of different ages, how to relate to them, and how to avoid some of the downfalls that often accompany childcare. Participants received training in basic first aid and how to respond in an emergency situation.
- Sixteen youth participated in the Washington County Public Speaking Tournament where they improved their presentation skills.
- Twenty-two 4-H members earned ribbons and premiums at the Perry Harvest Fair. Their exhibits of 4-H projects included knot tying, photography, canning, quilting and many more. The Perry Harvest Fair provided opportunities for youth to practice skills and increase self-confidence.
- Twenty-five Extension Homemakers meet in Whitneyville on a monthly basis for the purpose of strengthening and extending adult education into the home and community. Maine Extension Homemaker goals are to develop leadership, promote the University of Maine Cooperative’ educational programs and support worthy community causes. The group will be hosting the 2012 State Extension Homemaker meeting in Whitneyville.
- Fourteen volunteers who are sponsoring community dinners were trained in food safety techniques. Participants learned about food borne illness, proper holding temperatures, and safe handling procedures.
- Nutrition Associates from the Eat Well Nutrition Program provided nutrition education to 2,125 low-income youth in local libraries, summer camp programs, Head Starts, schools and after-school programs in 2011. Forty-nine limited income program families were taught nutrition education individually in their homes, in small community groups, in food pantries, or participated through a correspondence course-Eat Well by Mail.
- The Senior Companion Program provides volunteer stipends for 28 Washington County residents who help 180 older adults maintain their independence through companionship, transportation and being a friendly visitor.
- Senior Companions from Washington County were named to Maine’s 2012 Roll of Honor in appreciation for volunteering over 500 hours during the past year in their communities. The thirteen Senior Companions honored volunteered a total of 11,132 hours in 2011.
- Twenty-two older adults participated in A Matter of Balance Fall Prevention Program for Seniors. The older adults learned new techniques to help them live more independently and reduce the fear of falling.
- UMaine Extension’s Marine Team has been assessing the potential impacts of in-stream tidal generation units on the marine life in Cobscook Bay. These biological assessments, which include monitoring sea bird, marine mammal, and finfish stocks, are required by State and Federal law and will benefit current and future developers of tidal energy.
- University of Maine Cooperative Extension is monitoring wild populations of Alewives in eastern Washington County to assist with municipal harvesting and management decisions. Marine Extension staff is working collaboratively with Cooke Aquaculture, Inc., and University of Maine researchers to develop techniques for farming blue mussels alongside salmon for economic and environmental benefits.
Our County Extension Association is the vital link between the county, our communities and UMaine. The Association’s Executive Committee is comprised of local volunteers who represent community interests by advising UMaine Extension staff on educational programs, advocate for and secure funding from county government to support the county office, oversee the office budget and facilities, and guide UMaine Extension staff in identifying their programming goals.
University of Maine Cooperative Extension Support for Washington County
|Local Salaries and Benefits||$501,650|
|Prorated Support from UMaine*||$382,679|
|Computer Equipment & Networking||$7,036|
|Prorated Support from UMaine* reflects salaries & benefits for administrative and statewide staff.|
Without statewide support, UMaine Extension would not be present in this county. Funds for projects are provided through the University of Maine, Federal Formula Funds, grants, contracts, and fees. Dollars from other sources support salaries and benefits for Extension Specialists, County Educators, Extension administration, computer equipment and networking, publications, postage, telephone, and travel.
Washington County Budget
Program Support: $1,370
Secretarial Salary: $23,500
Each year, Washington County tax dollars support the UMaine Extension with physical office space, support staff salaries, office supplies, equipment and some programming expenses.
A sampling of programs that have statewide and local importance:
• Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition: UMaine Extension has collaborated with the National Institutes of Health and partners throughout Maine to implement We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition!). Innovative science-based programs have been offered to encourage parents, caregivers, and children to increase physical activity, improve eating habits, understand food marketing, and reduce time spent watching television and playing video games. As a result, Maine youth engaged in thousands of hours of physical activity during 2011. Analysis using established averages of $4,000/person/year in savings when obesity and overweight is postponed for only one year, and assuming a success rate of between 10 and 20 percent, establishes that between $1.2 million and $2.4 million was saved in health associated costs overall as a result of participation with We Can! The project received national recognition as a model for successful collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and UMaine Extension.
• No-till Corn Production Reduces Energy Costs for Farmers: UMaine Extension and Extension partners from Vermont and Massachusetts collaborated to establish and demonstrate fuel and nutrient efficient methods to grow silage corn. Research projects with 14 cooperating farmers on more than 840 acres of silage corn planted using no-till production techniques resulted in increased yields and quality over their conventionally tilled corn fields. Due to the minimized use of time and fuel, these 14 farms collectively saved $42,000 in fuel, labor, and equipment costs by reducing tillage operations. This equates to an average of $50/ acre, or an average of $3,000 per farm.
• Maine Maple Producers Trade Show: There are 332 licensed maple syrup producers in the state of Maine who produced over 360,000 gallons of syrup, a value in 2011 of over $13 million.
Based on producer needs, UMaine Extension and the Maine Maple Producers Association developed and instituted the first annual Maine Maple trade show. The three-day event consisted of sugarhouse tours, industry and equipment displays, and a day of technical sessions featuring industry experts. Attendees found the event useful to them in improving their knowledge of production in ways that would improve their business, and many predicted they would make changes as a result of what they learned that would help them to be more efficient, save money and increase profits.
•Food Safety Education for Families and Commercial Food Producers: Each year 48 million people in the United States become ill from eating adulterated food. In Maine, food safety risks exist from home food preparation and preservation, people serving crowds, and in retail and commercial food sales. UMaine Extension provides food safety training programs that include food preservation, cooking for crowds, general food safety for the home, industry food sanitation, and certification for meat, poultry, and seafood producers. We estimate that more than 50,000 consumers of home prepared and preserved food, and those attending public and community events have a reduced potential to contract foodborne illness due trainings provided by our food safety program. Further, more than 500,000 statewide, national, and international consumers of food produced by New England-based retail and commercial food businesses have a reduced potential to contract foodborne illness as a result of trainings provided by our food safety program. These results are decreasing the occurrences of foodborne illness and increasing overall health in Maine and wherever Maine foods are sold and consumed.
•4-H Science, Engineering, and Technology (SET): 4-H SET programs in Maine provide youth with hands-on learning experiences to develop passions that will help to prepare the next generation of scientist-leaders. In 2011 Maine 4-H youth completed more than 14,000 projects, many of which were integrated within communities to address local problems.
In one example, during the first year of our Tech Wizards program, teams of students are helping build underwater submersible robotic vessels based on a design by students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The robots seek out invasive aquatic plant species that are threatening Maine’s lakes and waterways – especially Eurasian Milfoil which has caused millions of dollars in damage and mitigation expense in Maine. Youth then use the DASH (diver assisted suction harvester) boat and remove the invaders.
•The Fundamental Tradition of the Maine Homemakers: The Maine Extension Homemakers Program is a Maine tradition. For decades Maine Homemakers have been engaged in strengthening communities through support for worthy community causes.
During 2011 more than 700 Maine Extension Homemakers in 10 counties offered community education programs in areas such as food safety, personal safety, nutrition and health, gardening and the environment, financial planning, consumer issues, family relationships, and cultural and creative arts. At the same time they were actively donating their time, money, and materials to improve the lives of community members. Extension Homemakers have improved the quality of life in their communities by volunteering more than 18,900 hours, the estimated dollar value of which was over $320,000.
• Signs of the Seasons: Climate change is affecting the environment around us. In order to fully understand these changes scientists need as much data as possible. Signs of the Seasons is a program of UMaine Extension and Maine Sea Grant, and with other Maine-based partners is part of an international effort to train citizens to observe and record the seasonal timing of life cycle events to build a comprehensive database of information for scientists. We are coordinating a network of Master Gardeners, 4-H youth, coastal groups, and citizens who are adding to the body of scientific knowledge related to phenology, the scientific study of seasonal changes. This knowledge will allow Maine to be better prepared to adapt to environmental changes to keep our agricultural, economic, and cultural prosperous.
For More Information about Washington County:
28 Center Street
Machias, ME 04654
1-800-287-1542 (in Maine) or 207-255-3345