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Maine Forest Collaborative Mid-November newsletter

Telstar students are working on the challenge of sustainability. Students are learning what the greater Bethel area is doing (or not doing) in terms of reducing, reusing, and recycling. They are exploring public trash receptacles, a never reopened donation center at the dump, and other ways to increase sustainability in a heavy tourist/consumption area.

Piscataquis students are working on the challenge of recreational trail access. They are examining the limited trail access between the towns of Guilford and Dexter. Currently, the only access permitted between the two towns is via a trail that is accessible by snowmobiles in winter or via the road. Students are exploring ways to increase access to the summer months to allow ATVs to travel between the towns.


Greenville students are working on the challenge of revitalizing their local school trail so teachers and students will spend more time outdoors. After exploring the area, they noticed the trail had significant obstacles in the way, extremely muddy areas, and largely overgrown sections. Students are beginning to explore ways that they can make the trail more user friendly and accessible while also helping to make it more well known to teachers and the community.

Buckfield students are working on the challenge of revitalizeing under utilized assets on their school grounds, particularly a forested stand. Traditionally, a section of forest has been put aside for a yearly fundraiser, and once there was a low ropes course there, which is now a hazard. The trail is overgrown, not marked or clear, and is full of trash leftover from fundraisers. They are beginning to explore ways that this stand can be improved and better utilized for the whole school to enjoy.

Ecology Learned Center students are interested in mitigating the spread of invasive species. One class is going to focus on invasive plants, while the other is going to focus on insects. Both classes are in the early stages of figuring out which invasive plants/insects they want to focus on and what that kind of solution might look like, whether that be mitigating the need in town in a hands on/monitoring way, or through an educational campaign (or both!)


In the News

Maine receives new federal tech hub designation, allowing states to compete for federal funds

Maine is one 32 states plus Puerto Rico that will have a new technology hub to help spur innovation and create jobs. Maine's Forest Bioproducts Advanced Manufacturing Tech Hub is now designated as a federal Tech Hub.


A Saco company has begun production of fiber-based single use containers

A new sustainable packaging manufacturer began production in Saco. Tanbark takes wood pulp and plant fiber and turns it into a liquid solution which is then molded into products like clamshell food containers.


Once considered ornamental, knotweed is one of Maine's most damaging invasive plants

Sometimes confused with bamboo, knotweed has a hollow stem and flat, shovel-shaped leaves as big as your palm. It's been in the U.S. for centuries — initially brought here as an ornamental species. But it's now considered one of the most invasive plants in the world and one of the most damaging in Maine.


Environmental Science Connection

Check out this extensive article on how climate change is affecting Maine forests:

As Maine warms, scientists search for tree species that will keep its forests growing. Some are experimenting with assisted forest migration, relocating trees from more southerly habitats that might do well in Maine as temperatures rise and drive out native species.


Grant Opportunities

Semester of Service $1500 Grants

***Let Sara know if you want to pursue this ASAP and she will get a document started for your class to start on! Maine youth have shown they want to take action on things that matter in their community. That is why Volunteer Maine, the state service commission, is offering $1,500 mini-grants to support youth-led projects through its Semester of Service grant program. Applications are due on or before November 21, 2023. Youth groups in schools, faith communities, service organizations, and nonprofits are eligible to apply and participate. The Semester of Service begins on Martin Luther King Day of Service in January 2024 and ends with National Youth Service Day in April 2024. Proposals that tackle issues related to climate, mental or physical health, and housing are encouraged. Application instructions and additional information can be found at VolunteerMaine.org


Funding for Outdoor Learning

The Nature Based Education Consortium has created a calendar and list of upcoming outdoor learning related grants available on their website organized by upcoming deadline. This is a great place to monitor as your class starts to select a challenge and work on a solution.


For Students

Business of Maine's Forest Products Sector

This program is an accredited 10-week virtual asynchronous course leveraging strong industry and workforce partnerships that bring available opportunities, job support resources, and education, to participants. Each session is led by a different guest lecturer who is a subject matter expert in the field.

Completion of the entire series and a final project assignment result in 3 credits and Forest Products Sector Digital Badges – and is available for FREE! (You can also have students sign up for just one session, this is a great extra credit assignment for students!)

High School Summer Internships through MERITS Program

Do you have students who are interested in interning at a Maine STEM-based (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) research institution or company for six weeks during the summer of 2024? The Maine Space Grant Consortium is pleased to announce paid internship opportunities for highly motivated juniors under our MERITS program.

For more information and to download the program guidelines, application form and FAQ, visit our website at https://www.msgc.org/students/internships/highschool/

Applications are due January 31, 2024


For Teachers

Northern Woodland News Free for educators!

Northern Woodlands magazine celebrates northeastern forests and the people who care for them. It's published quarterly by the Center for Northern Woodlands Education, an educational nonprofit in Lyme, New Hampshire offering free high-quality place-based environmental education resources to educators and students. Click here to sign up for your free subscription!


Teachers Winter Weekend at the Ecology School!

Join us this January for a restorative weekend of professional development at River Bend Farm, home of The Ecology School. Attendees will head out into the winter landscape to experience outdoor learning led by The Ecology School's seasoned educators, and have time to design outdoor learning as a year-round reality for their students. Attendees will also enjoy delicious meals, stay in our comfortable, sustainably built dorms, and have time to enjoy the beautiful River Bend Farm landscape in the winter.

January 26-28, 2024 (Snow date February 2-4)

***The weekend is free for teachers and attendees will receive a $250

stipend and be reimbursed up to $120 for travel.***

Both new participants and Teacher Institute alumni are welcome to apply. Priority will be given to new applicants!

APPLICATIONS OPEN NOW and will be reviewed beginning November 1. All applicants will be contacted by November 27 with your application status.

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