Aug 182017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119. Looks like some potentially good resources for a timely Lecturer’s Program or Family Health and Hearing Report!

As summer draws to a close, back-to-school season is in full effect.  Remember to safely share the roads with school buses, pedestrians, and bicyclists, and provide children with the necessary knowledge to stay safe at school.

The National Safety Council has a number of helpful resources that promote safety, including Pedestrian Safety, Safe Riding in a Car, Distracted Walking, First-Time Rider School Bus Tips, and more.

Also available on this site are video PSAs on Back to School:  Driving Safely with School Buses and Stop Bullying:  What Parents Can Do.

There are also bullying and suicide prevention resources available on my website. For a slightly different perspective on the issue of bullying, read Where you fly makes a difference.

Jul 152017
 

Please provide proper attribution when using material.

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

One of the many challenges adults face as they return to college is financing their education. The University of Maine System (UMS) has an Adult Degree Completion Scholarship Fund helping Maine residents return to school and complete their academic studies. For many, these may have begun years ago and were not completed for a variety of reasons.

These funds are dedicated to support adult students returning to college after an absence of at least three years or more and who are completing their very first baccalaureate degree. Applicants may qualify for up to $4,000 per academic year for up to eight consecutive semesters.

Students returning to school have two opportunities to apply for the Adult Degree Completion Scholarship. Each year the deadlines for new applicants are:

  • August 1 – to be considered for a full academic year award beginning in the fall semester;
  • December 1 – to be considered for a spring semester award; and
  • all renewal applications are due no later than June 1 of each year.

The electronic application takes approximately 15 minutes to complete and may be found online here. Prior to completing this application, we recommend contacting your campus navigator to review your eligibility and discuss your plan for completing your bachelor’s degree. Applicants must meet the following criteria in order to be eligible for consideration:

  • must be a resident of the State of Maine;
  • must be a matriculated student at a UMS institution seeking a first baccalaureate degree;
  • must be an undergraduate reentry student who has experienced a gap (three years or more) in the pursuit of postsecondary education;
  • must have a minimum of 30 credits earned from any institution toward your degree;
  • must demonstrate financial need as determined by a completed FAFSA; and
  • must be registered at least part time: 6‐8 credits per semester.

Adult Degree Completion Scholarship Brochure

 

Mar 252017
 

We shook it and it’s changing to butter!

In something of a perfect storm, Valley Grangers are experiencing a bit of March Madness with two major community service projects involving local students and community volunteers. First up was their annual GrowME Collaboration–a joint effort with Piscataquis County UMaine Extension and Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District. By pooling resources and volunteers, the three organizations are visiting with nearly 750 students from Kindergarten through Third Grade in Piscataquis County. With a mission of “increasing agricultural literacy and making it fun,” volunteers help kindergartners build an animal graph, first graders taste and sort apples, second graders make their own butter, and third graders construct their very own “dirt babies.”

Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange is especially proud of the fact that “we have no budget and not much structure–just a bunch of people who love working with kids and providing positive experiences around agriculture.” His specialty is making butter with second graders. “We have fun and the kids almost don’t realize they are learning–some have even asked for instructions and then made butter at home as a family activity.” He notes that teachers are often integrating the activities into their regular curriculum by using the experience as a writing prompt or a math lesson. But he maintains that the best part is everyone has fun. “Every year there are new stories to tell,” he notes.

Third graders make dirt babies that grow sprout and grow “hair” (grass). The babies include a birth certificate that tracks important events such as “first haircut.” In one classroom this year, as the babies were being collected and placed on a windowsill, one new “parent” exclaimed, “Uh oh! My Dirt Baby had an accident! She pooped and peed on my desk!” (There was some water and soil on the desk after the assembly was completed.) Perhaps in addition to “agricultural literacy” the GrowME program is teaching the joys of parenthood!

Boomsma notes that one school has requested an activity for their Pre-Kindergarten classes this year. “Finding activities that are grade level appropriate can be a challenge because we also have to make certain our volunteers are comfortable with it. This year I’ve agreed to be the guinea pig volunteer for this new activity and we’re trying a project involving sprouting bean seeds so the kids not only help with the planting, they get to watch the sprouting take place.”

Another initiative Valley Grange has supported long enough that it’s a school tradition is a contest among third and fourth graders to design two advertisements for the Grange in the Piscataquis Observer’s Annual Newspapers in Education Supplement. The program is a favorite of Piscataquis Community Elementary School Art Teacher Jane Daniels because it “gives the kids a practical side of art.” Valley Grange Master Jim Annis notes that “We have strong ties to kids…” with Grange members involved regularly at the local schools. “We’ve actually built a series of programs that range from Bookworming and Words for Thirds to our blistered finger knitters making hats and mittens for the kids who need them. The kids know us and we know them.”

Valley Grange Community Service Chair Mary Annis is quick to note that this is not a one-way street. “In addition to the fun we have, the kids help us. We collect  ‘Coups for Troops’ most of which came from collection boxes placed in local schools. We like the feeling that we are redefining community and good ways of working together.”

Additional information about all of the Valley Grange Programs can be found on their website, http://valleygrange.com. The GrowME Collaboration maintains a basic information and resource site at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com. If any other Granges are interested in starting similar programs, Valley Grange will be happy to help!

Ad created by Fourth Grader Kaelyn Bussell

Mar 242017
 

Lois McCarthy (shown) and Lisa Goucher visited Cape Cod Hill School in New Sharon on March 17 to present dictionaries to the third-grade students there.
A word game was played and each student signed his or her own copy. This is the second year that Mill Stream has participated in the national “Words for Thirds” program as one of their community service projects.

Mar 182017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119, reprinted with permission. 

The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship Fund was created by the Maine Legislature to annually recognize one student from each county who is currently pursuing or is planning to pursue their education at a two-year or four-year degree-granting Maine college or technical school.  This scholarship is available for full or part-time students.  An eligible recipient must be a Maine resident who is accepted to or enrolled in a two- or four-year degree-granting Maine college or technical school that is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.

Awards are made on the basis of academic excellence, contributions to community and employment, financial need, letters of recommendation, and an essay of 300 words or less from the applicant that explains his or her educational goals and intentions.

All application components must be submitted and postmarked by May 1, 2017, to the following address:  Finance Authority of Maine (FAME), Attn:  Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship, P.O. Box 949, Augusta, ME 04332-0949.

Awards will be made directly to the applicant after successful completion of the first semester of school.  The Maine Legislative Memorial Scholarship Committee will announce scholarship winners for the 2016 applicants in the spring of 2017.  Scholarships may be deferred for one year if this is to the student’s financial advantage.

All funds for the Scholarship have been raised through an annual auction held in Augusta.  Legislators, staff, and lobbyists participate in the event by soliciting and making donations, organizing, and even “auctioneering”.  Hundreds of items are donated, many of them “made in Maine”, such as sardines, paintings, and weekend get-a-ways.  The auctions have been a tremendous success, making it possible for 16 students to receive as much as a $1,000 award.

For more information on this scholarship program, please click here.

Jan 222017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Davis, State State Senator for District 4. Sounds like a great opportunity!


The Maine Government Summer Internship Program, established by the legislature in 1967, offers students enrolled in a Maine college, or students from Maine enrolled elsewhere, the opportunity to spend 12 weeks in full-time, paid internships in Maine state, local and county government positions. The program is administered by the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center, located at the University of Maine, in collaboration with the Office of the Governor, the Maine Bureau of Human Resources, numerous state agencies and local governments. To learn more about previous positions, projects and placements, click here. The 2017 program will run from May 30 to August 18. For more information, contact Peggy McKee, Internship Program Administrator at (207) 581-1644 or margaretdotmckeeatmainedotedu  (margaretdotmckeeatmainedotedu)  .

Dec 072016
 

Brought to our attention by Vicki Huff…

“Wanted to make Grangers across Maine that have been collecting Campbell Soup labels aware that the program is going away. You can verify by going to the following link http://www.labelsforeducation.com/. Cans already with labels may be on shelves into 2017 and schools and organizations can continue collecting through August 2017 and then the program will be stopped. This program has been in existence for 42 years and I have not read everything as to why so do your due diligence.”

A quick review of the site Vicki mentioned reveals:

“In the past few years participation in Labels for Education has declined and as a result, Campbell has come to the very difficult decision to wind down the Labels for Education program. As of August 1, 2016, only UPCs with the Labels for Education logo will be accepted and redeemed for points into registered schools’ bank accounts. We will continue to support American kids through our Grand Stand for Schools Sweepstakes and our community efforts in which we annually contribute $70 million in food and funding to tackle obesity and hunger among our country’s most vulnerable families.”

Since the labels will be around and valid until next summer, why not give this another big push!?

Note: do not confuse this with the Boxtops for Education Program which, as far as we know, continues!

 

Nov 042016
 

books-1012088_1280By Glenys Ryder, Vice-President of the Educational Aid Fund

At the recent 143rd Annual Convention of the Maine State Grange in Skowhegan, the trustees of the Educational Aide and Howes Nurses Scholarship Fund awarded $500 scholarships to ten deserving students.  Catherine Bernard, who is studying Health Science at USM and Hanna Gowen, who is studying Medical Lab Science at UMO were awarded Howes Nurses scholarships.  The following students were awarded Educational Aid scholarships:  Christina Colson, Business Admin.,UMA; Jared Grenier,Health, UMO; Nathan Hills,Secondary ED & Creative Writing, UM Machias; Christine Landes, MBA Public Admin.,SNHU; Grace Libby, Theatre, Suffolk Univ.; Angeleana Lyons, Psychology, UM Machias; Kayla Pyles, Forensic Science, Bay Path Univ.; and Mary Redmond, Sports Business, St. Leo Univ., Florida.

It is the aim of the Maine State Grange to support farming, community service, and education.  No nobler effort should be made than in these areas, which help young people as they prepare for their futures.

The trustees of the Educational Aide and Howes Nurses Scholarship Fund are seeking your help.As you know, the cost of an adequate education is increasing every year, and our funds to help these students are limited.  Any donation from individuals or from Granges, or from other organizations, would be so appreciated!  The donation of one individual may be small, but collectively, these small donations would mean a great deal in fulfilling their dreams.  Perhaps a Grange might hold a supper or raffle in order to raise money for this needy cause.

Donations may be sent to: Maine State Grange, 146 State Street, Augusta, ME 04330.  Any help that you can give us, would be greatly appreciated.

 

Oct 312016
 

Third-graders from Piscataquis Community Elementary School weren’t the only ones at the Valley Grange Hall for Dictionary Day last Friday. Also present were Corporal Austin and Miss Mary (Civil War Reenactors), Grange Bookworms and Members, and Laura Smith, a reporter from FOX 22/ABC 7 in Bangor. Check on her report on Facebook.

This was Valley Grange’s fifteenth year presenting dictionaries to area students, bringing the total distributed to over 1,800. Students who make a field trip to the Grange Hall learn about the Civil War, the early days of the Grange, and the excitement of having their own personal dictionary. Another group of approximately 65 students will be visiting the hall soon and the “Dictionary Team” will be traveling to three schools to complete the program.

Additional information about the Dictionary Program can be found at the Dictionary Project Website.

Jun 102016
 

The Valley Grange Bookworm Program began in 2007 as an outgrowth of their long standing Words for Thirds Dictionary Program. Program Director Walter Boomsma explains, “We had so much fun with the kids during our dictionary proBkworm Thx 2016grams we wanted more time with them.” At the time, the Grange was visiting Guilford Primary School where grades two and three were located. Working with then Principal Julie Orton, they came up with what was dubbed the Valley Grange Bookworm Program. Volunteer Grange Members began visiting the school twice a week to spend time with reading with the students. “Initially, we were thinking we’d read to the kids,” Boomsma explains. “But in discussing ideas with the teachers and principal it occurred to us that having the kids read to us made even more sense and after nearly a decade we’re even more convinced we did the right thing. For one thing, the kids feel like they ‘own’ the program and they take the decision of what they’re going to read to us very seriously.”

At the conclusion of this year’s program, the Guilford-based Grange received a packet of thank you notes from some of the students who’ve benefited. These notes prove the value of the program. Some examples of notes written by second graders:

“Thank you for listening to me read this year. You help me become a better reader. It was fun reading with you!”

“Thank you for listening to me read this year. I hope you had fun!”

“Thank you for listening to me read this year. I like it when you make me a better reader. I love when I can read to all of you Grange readers.”

“Thank you for listening to me read this year. You helped me read long words. I really like reading with you.”

“Than you for listening to me read this year. I love reading books and magazines with you. I became a better reader because of you.”

“Thank you for listening to me read this year! I appreciate all the things you’ve done for all of us. You made me prove that now I have better reading skills than I did at the beginning of this year.”

Boomsma enthusiastically recommends the program to other Granges.  “It’s one of our easiest community service programs to maintain. It requires very little structure and there’s absolutely no cost. Our Community Service Chair Mary Annis sets up a monthly schedule and the school assigns us to classrooms when we arrive. We’ve actually developed quite a partnership with the school and kids who help us by bringing ‘Coups for Troops to school.”

Admitting there can be some challenges at the beginning in setting up the structure of the progrm, he’s willing to work with and assist any Grange interested in starting a similar program. “Valley Grange has always had a preference for community service work that puts our ‘boots on the ground’ directly benefiting our fellow citizens regardless of age. The rewards are huge.” Additional information about the Bookworm Program, including frequently asked questions, is available on the Valley Grange Website.

In addition to Dictionary Day (third grade) and “bookworming” (second and third grades) Valley Grange sponsors an annual “Newspapers in Education” Project (third and fourth grades) and continues to promote agricultural literacy with special projects (kindergarten through grade three) as part of their “GrowME” collaboration.