Unity College graduates six deputy game wardens

Six recently graduated Deputy Maine Game Wardens. (Contributed photo)

Four are from area towns Troy, Unity, Frankfort & Windsor

For any student interested in becoming a Maine State Game Warden, there’s no better way to prepare than by landing a summer position as a Deputy Game Warden. This year, all six Deputy Game Warden summer positions were filled by Unity College Conservation Law Enforcement students.

“This is an accomplishment that our students, as well as their professors, should be very proud of,” said Unity College President Dr. Melik Peter Khoury. “ In fact, it speaks to the breadth of our Conservation Law Enforcement program, and the overall quality of our education. Experience is a critical part of a Unity College education, and this will certainly give these students an edge when they graduate, whether they choose to enter the workforce or pursue further education.”

The process began for the six students with an application in December. From there, Marc D’Elia, of Troy; Nicholas Johnson, of Unity; Emily Tripp, of Frankfort; Morgan Jeane, of Windsor; Keegan Nelligan, of Abington, Massachusetts; Will Reinsborough, of Pownal, spent several months taking written exams, oral boards, swim tests, polygraph tests, and psychological exams to emerge as top tier candidates. The process closely mirrors the rigor and difficulty that a full-time candidate would go through.

After passing the first part of the hiring process, the students were then required to attend the Law Enforcement Pre-Service, administered by the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and pass the training from the Maine Warden Service, which includes firearms, water survival, and mechanics of arrest.

“Many students come to Unity with the goal of one day working for a top agency like the Maine Warden Service,” said Zachary Falcon, Assistant Professor of Conservation Law and Environmental Policy. “The Conservation Law Enforcement program prepares students to compete in the field, but they still need a strong work ethic and a high degree of professionalism to succeed. These six students demonstrate that every day, and we could not be more proud of their achievement.”

“It’s surreal. It didn’t fully sink in until they pinned the badge on me,” said Keegan Nelligan, one of the six students. “I’ve been wanting to be a game warden since I was a little kid, and even though I’m not currently a full-time game warden, this is a big step for me. I’m very excited, and excited to see what the future holds for this position.”

Though he’s currently in his training hours, Keegan said that the majority of his work this summer will be as a Boating Deputy, where he’ll patrol bodies of water such as Long Lake or Brandy Pond to ensure boaters are being safe. The Maine Warden Service, however, could call upon the Deputy Game Wardens for other tasks as needed, such as search and rescue assistance.

After this summer position, Keegan will enter into his senior year at Unity College, and hopes to land a full-time position as a game warden upon graduation.

“It’s always exciting to see where our students go after graduation,” added Dr. Khoury. “With a summer serving as Deputy Game Wardens, I see a very bright future for all six of these students.”

Unity group proposes creating green cemetery

movie poster (source: imdb)

The citizens of the Town of Unity have expressed interest in opening a green cemetery. Therefore, the Unity Cemetery Committee has arranged to show, “A Will for the Woods,” an award-winning documentary about green burials. The presentation will take place at the Unity College Center for Performing Arts on February 8, at 6 p.m. Admission is free. All are welcome to attend. A snow date has been set aside for February 15, at the same time.

Michael Womersley to speak at SRLT meeting

What will happen to Maine’s land and ocean resources as climate changes in the 21st century? What likely climate scenarios are there for Maine? What will most likely happen to our weather and to sea level? How should we best respond? What mitigation and adaptation strategies are most likely to work? In fisheries?In forestry and agriculture?Which ones are likely to lead to yet more problems down the road?

Dr. Michael Womersley, Professor of Human Ecology/School of Environmental Citizenship at Unity College, will address these concerns. Womersley has a PhD in Environmental Policy Analysis from the University of Maryland Policy School, with a focus on U.S. cultural acceptance of cli-mate policy. His current research is in political economy and geopolitics of climate change.

Womersley’s presentation is part of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust’s monthly speaker series, “Restoring Connections to Place,” featuring a wide variety of conservation topics. The programs are held on the second Wednesday of every month at the café, 93 Main Coffee Shop, located at 93 Main St., Unity. These monthly events are open to the public and a five dollar donation is suggested. For more information, please email info@sebasticookrlt.org or call 948-3766.

Sebasticook Regional Land Trust has a mission to recognize and conserve the rich wild and working landscape of Central Maine’s Sebasticook River watershed.

MOFGA to Host 41st Annual Common Ground Country Fair

On September 22, 23 & 24, the 41st annual Common Ground Country Fair will take place at the home of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) in Unity, Maine. Some 60,000 people take part in this event, which celebrates rural and sustainable living in Maine. The Fair is unique because there are no midway carnivals, fast food or games of chance. What it does offer is pure fun and entertainment in an educational context.

Pinterest photo

“Vendors, demonstrators, entertainers and exhibitors feature traditional skills, talent, local organic food, and made-in-Maine crafts,” said Fair Director April Boucher. “Common Ground has some of the most delicious food of any fair in Maine. MOFGA places a great deal of emphasis on educating people about available alternatives for living healthfully, happily and comfortably in the Northeast.”

Each day, there are hundreds of talks, demonstrations and exhibits focusing on healthy and environmentally sound living. The Fair’s activities are spread out over 40+ acres of well-tended land adorned by beautiful perennial gardens, walkways, and orchards.

The success and continued growth of the Fair is attributable to generous donations and the tremendous loyalty of MOFGA’s remarkable volunteer community. If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend this local event, this is the year to do so. Here are just a few exciting reasons to attend the Fair:

Each day at 11 a.m. on the Common there will be a keynote address. On Friday, long-time MOFGA farmer Jill Agnew, of Willow Pond Farm in Sabattus, will deliver a talk entitled “Community” Supported Agriculture – Looking Back, Looking Forward, A 40-Year Story. She will talk about what visions lie ahead to maintain a positive impact in the community and how basic human values are supported, taught and nurtured – all in the context of agriculture, the panorama people can see, smell, experience and eat. On Saturday, Sherri Mitchell, attorney, teacher, spiritual activist, and director of the Land Peace Foundation, will speak about Standing on Indigenous Rights – the need for developing unity with indigenous rights movements, centering on our shared connection to the Earth and our interdependence with one another and the entire structure of life. And on Sunday, Jonathan Rosenthal, executive director of the New Economy Coalition, and co-founder of Equal Exchange, will discuss the interconnectedness of our many different struggles for justice. He will highlight solutions that fundamentally transform our economy, culture, and politics, while looking at the connection between local work and systemic transformation.

MOFGA’s Public Policy Committee will host an important Teach-in on Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Spotlight Stage. The Teach-in, entitled Making America Green Again: A Workshop In Resistance, will feature three environmental policy experts who will describe threats to state and federal policies, and ways to fight back. Emmie Theberge, federal project director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM), will explain key environmental issues at the state and federal levels. Senator Shenna Bellows (D-Manchester) will speak about how to run for office at the state and federal levels. Beth Ahearn, political director at Maine Conservation Voters, will coach about how to make your voice heard – i.e., how best to contact state and federal legislators, and how to present testimony and lobby in person. Nancy Ross, former executive director of MOFGA, will moderate the Teach-in. Nancy is professor emerita of environmental policy at Unity College and adjunct faculty in political science at Southern Maine Community College. A Q&A session will follow the presentations.

Other speakers and demonstrators offer numerous informative presentations and workshops on topics such as seed saving, composting, growing grains, organic gardening, farm marketing, cooking with local and seasonal foods, medicinal and culinary herbs, working with animal fiber, raising livestock, energy efficiency, conservation, toxics and other environmental concerns, social and political initiatives, working with stone, traditional and practical Maine folk arts, Maine Native American culture, low impact forestry skills, Maine’s media sources, ecological design and building, and practices for healthy living. See the Fair’s detailed schedule of events.

One of the most beautiful fair venues is MOFGA’s Exhibition Hall — a post and beam structure designed and raised in 1998 by five Maine-based timber frame companies. The Hall showcases thousands of garden entries organically raised throughout the state. The vibrant colors and great diversity inspire fairgoers to try their hands at growing countless varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains, flowers, nuts, herbs and flowers. Eggs, honey, home-made beverages, baked goods, dried foods, and, of course, canned foods are on display. Amateur craftspeople and artists also submit wonderful items for display.

Throughout the Fair weekend, there are livestock shows, contests and demonstrations featuring draft horses and ponies, dairy cattle and oxen, donkeys and mules, goats and sheep, poultry, rabbits, llamas and alpacas, and pigs. Sheep Dog demonstrations happen three times a day.

Dozens of Maine’s entertainers will perform in the Amphitheater, on the Spotlight Stage, and as rovers around the fairgrounds.

The Fair’s festive Children’s Area is a mini-Fair unto itself. There are countless activities (all free) for kids to participate in joyfully, and there is a stage with great entertainment for families. A children’s garden parade winds around The Common twice daily. All are welcome to don garden costumes and march.

And, of course, there are countless opportunities to purchase Maine-grown produce and other beautifully crafted, Maine-made goods. Two large and brilliant farmers’ markets offer an abundance of Maine’s organic produce. The Agricultural Products and Farm & Homestead areas feature goods and services from Maine’s farming and gardening community. The Crafts tents showcase exquisite creations from Maine’s finest artists and craftspeople. The Energy & Shelter Area presents environmentally friendly materials and systems for Maine homes. The Maine Fiber Farms tent highlights beautiful crafts and practical items made from farm animal fiber. The Maine Indian Basketmakers Association area offers superb creations of basketry, jewelry and other crafts of the Wabanaki, as well as educational talks, traditional dances and music. And the Youth Enterprise Zone, which happens on Friday and Sunday, presents the skill, innovation and creativity of Maine’s young entrepreneurs. This celebration of rural living offers something for everyone, in a traditionally festive atmosphere.

“The Common Ground Country Fair blends the best of traditional with the best of modern-day living in Maine, and shows Fairgoers how they can incorporate sustainable living practices into their own daily routines,” said Boucher.

Volunteers are needed during Fair set-up (through September 21), during the Fair itself (September 22, 23 & 24), and for a focused Fair clean-up effort on October 14. Volunteers who work a 4-hour shift receive an organic cotton Fair t-shirt illustrated with this year’s artwork, a hearty meal from the Fair’s Common Kitchen, and free admission to the Fair. Online pre-registration for volunteers will run through September 19. After pre-registration, anyone wishing to volunteer should come to the fairgrounds where coordinators will assign shifts as needed. Fair organizers especially need help during the clean-up after the Fair. Clean-up volunteers wishing to receive free admission to the Fair should check in at the Volunteer Registration Tent.

The Fair goes on rain or shine. MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center is on the Crosby Brook Road in Unity. Gates open at 9 a.m. daily.

MOFGA offers free admission to the Fair for its members. Join MOFGA online. Tickets at the gate are $15 for general admission and $10 for elders.

For more information about the Common Ground Country Fair, call 207-568-4142 or visit www.mofga.org.

Woodland owners to hear speakers at fair

Image Credit: Maine Woodland Owners

Woodland owners and enthusiasts visiting the Common Ground Country Fair, in Unity, on Friday, September 22, will have an opportunity to learn what’s new with Maine forestry. In the low-impact forestry area, Maine Woodland Owners will present a speaker series covering “everything wood,” and designed for new and seasoned woodland owners alike.

A walk in the woods will be part of the program for two forest health presentations, “Invasive Plants on Your Woodlot” and “Forest Insects and Diseases that Threaten Your Woodlands.” One discussion will look at ways that cutting some timber and managing land for wildlife can be compatible. Whole tree versus main stem tree harvesting methods will be compared and contrasted. Two presentations will take a look into the future: new forest products that are transforming the forest products industry, and efforts to restore the American chestnut, a tree that once covered three-quarters of the North American seaboard. Finally, an interactive program about ways landowners can avoid the most common mistakes will wrap up the day.

The low-impact forestry area is located just outside the fairgrounds, near the Pine Gate. For the full program and schedule, go to www.mainewoodlandowners.org.

9 a.m. – Invasive Plants on Your Woodlot, Nancy Olmstead, Invasive Plant Biologist, Maine Natural Areas Program.

10 a.m. – Managing Your Woodlot for Wildlife, Chuck Hulsey, MDIFW Regional Wildlife Biologist.

11 a.m. – Reintroduction of the American Chestnut, Brian Roth, Board member of the Maine Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation and Associate Director of the Cooperative Forestry Research Unit at the University of Maine.

Noon – The Pluses and Minuses of Whole Tree Harvesting, Tom Doak, Executive Director, Maine Woodland Owners, and Mitch Lansky, author and a founder of the Maine Low-Impact Forestry Project.

1 p.m. – New Uses for Wood, Benjamin Herzog, Wood Technologist in the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, the University of Maine. 2 p.m. – Forest Insects and Diseases that Threaten Your Woodlands, Allison Kanoti, Forest Entomologist, Maine Forest Service, DACF.

3 p.m. – The Ten Biggest Mistakes Woodland Owners Make, Tom Doak, Executive Director, Maine Woodland Owners.

A membership-supported non-profit organization, Maine Woodland Owners advocates for family woodland owners, provides information for better forest management and promotes the stewardship of Maine’s woodland resources.

What you should know about boundary surveys featured at SRLT monthly program

The sight of land surveyors peering into tripod-mounted equipment by the roadside is common enough, but what are they actually doing? Frank Siviski, a professional land surveyor with more than 30 years of experience, will shed light on the seemingly mysterious world of boundary determinations.

Siviski has taught survey-related courses at Unity College, and is currently an instructor at Kennebec Valley Community College. His talk will help landowners understand how surveys are created, standards that are applied, and how landowners’ goals shape the outcome. If you have questions about boundary surveys, this is an opportunity to have those questions answered.

Siviski’s presentation is part of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust’s monthly speaker series, “Restoring Connections to Place,” featuring a wide variety of conservation topics. The programs are held. on the second Wednesday of every month at the café, 93 Main Coffee Shop, located at 93 Main St., Unity. These monthly events are open to the public and a five dollar donation is suggested. For more information, please email info@sebasticookrlt.org or call 948-3766.

UNITY: UniTel receives prestigious award

From left to right, U.S. Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, Laurie Osgood, CEO of UniTel, and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel after UniTel was presented with the Smart Rural Community Award during a ceremony in Unity. Contributed photo

Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA, the Rural Broadband Association, visited UniTel this month to formally present the Unity-based telecommunications company with its Smart Rural Community award. Bloomfield, joined by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and U.S. Senator Angus King, presented the award in front of an audience at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts, before a listening session on improving broadband infrastructure.

“Historically enjoying Maine’s quality of life has come at a price,” said Laurie Osgood, CEO of UniTel. “Now technology has changed so much that it is possible to do the work traditionally performed in the big city from the most rural parts of Maine. Our role is to make sure that our infrastructure can support anyone who wants to live and work here. The leadership of Senator King and FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel has been vital in realizing the goals of closing the digital divide. The Smart Rural Community designation is a direct reflection of our team’s hard work. We live and work in these rural communities, so this award means a lot to us.”

UniTel received word nearly a year ago that it had earned the designation as a Smart Rural Community. Such a designation put the Maine-based company in an elite class with other broadband providers in rural areas. The Smart Rural Community designation was only awarded to eleven other companies nationally, and UniTel is the first Maine-based company to receive the award.

The 2016 Smart Rural Community award follows UniTel’s construction of nearly 100 miles of its Bluestreak fiber to the home (FTTH) network in its service area and beginning late last year in downtown Belfast. Other selection criterial of note included UniTel’s lead role in promoting and sponsoring free digital literacy training in the areas it serves. This is the second national award received by UniTel in as many years for its efforts to expand access to broadband in rural Maine.

“A broadband connection is more than a technology – it’s a platform for opportunity,” said Commissioner Rosenworcel. “No matter who you are or where you live, you need access to modern communications to have a fair shot at 21st century success.”

“Reliable rural broadband access is essential to strengthen and diversify Maine’s economy,” said Senator King. “Rural broadband can help entrepreneurs grow their business, enable farmers to practice precision agriculture and access new markets, and help students learn in an expanding digital world.”

What’s the “Buzz about Bees”?

What types of bees are found in Maine? Why are some bee species in decline? What can we do to protect bee populations in Maine? What plants encourage bees in our landscapes?  Jennifer Lund, from the Maine Department of Agriculture, will speak on the topic at the monthly series of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust, on Wednesday, August 9, at 6:30 p.m.

To answer these and many other common questions about bees, Lund’s talk will focus on understanding basic bee biology, nesting requirements, and foraging behavior. Lund is the State Apiculturist with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry.  The Apiary program helps prevent the introduction and spread of regulated honey bee diseases, parasites, and undesirable genetic material in resident and migratory honey bee colonies.

Lund’s talk is part of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust’s monthly speaker series, “Restoring Connections to Place,” featuring a wide variety of conservation topics. The programs are held on the second Wednesday of every month at the café, 93 Main Coffee Shop, located at 93 Main St., Unity. These monthly events are open to the public and a $5 donation is suggested. For more information, please email info@sebasticookrlt.org or call 948-3766.


Program on invasive plants set in Unity

On Wednesday, May 10, ecologist Aleta McKeage, of Belfast, will present on invasive plants, one of the primary threats to environmental health that we face today. Invasive plants take over natural areas, crowding out native species and changing wildlife habitats. We will learn which plants present the worst problems in our area, how to identify them, what they do to the ecosystem, and most importantly, how we can control them.  We will observe striking examples of invasive plant infestations as well as successful control management that is being employed to combat invasive plants locally.

McKeage specializes in land stewardship and restoration integrated with outreach and community building. She is an expert in invasive plant biology and control and restoration of native plant communities in natural areas as well as human-influenced landscapes.

The talk is part of the Sebasticook Regional Land Trust’s monthly speaker series, “Restoring Connections to Place,” featuring a wide variety of conservation topics of interest to Maine. The programs are free and open to the public at 6:30 p.m., the second Wednesday of every month at the café, 93 Main, located at 93 Main St., Unity.

UNITY NEWS: Bird Walk planned

The birds are back!  Break out the binoculars and enjoy the outdoors and our feathered friends at the Rines Wetland and Wildlife Preserve.  Tom Aversa, the co-author of several bird guides and an adjunct instructor at Unity College, will be the guide of this short, SRLT-sponsored bird walk, on Saturday, May 20, at 7:30 a.m.  Meet on the south side of Rt. 139 – 2.5 miles west of Unity near the SRLT kiosk.  Bring binoculars and waterproof footwear.  All ages welcome but please leave pets at home.

For more information or to register, please call Doug 948-3766.