2017 Annual Report

man and girl walking in a cornfieldUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension Hancock County

2017 Annual Report

Putting university research to work in homes, businesses, farms, and communities for over 100 years.

The University of Maine is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.

Local Partnership

John Rebar, Executive Director, University of Maine Cooperative Extension
John Rebar, Executive Director, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

The partnership between the University of Maine, County Governments and the county Extension Associations has endured for over a century. As the needs of the people of Maine have changed, so has Cooperative Extension. We are committed to helping Maine succeed across our spectrum of programming. However, success is best achieved by collaboration with the people, businesses, organizations, and communities that we work with. Extension is a reflection of the locally identified needs that form the basis for the educational programs that are offered statewide.

The county report is an important way to share the work that has been happening locally and statewide. This report is also an important way that the county Extension Association documents accountability for the investment of funds from County Government. We are very pleased to share this report with you and encourage you to contact your local office with questions or for more information on anything in this report.

− John Rebar, Executive Director

Hancock County Extension Association

Executive Committee 2017-2018

  • Greg Veilleux, Bar Harbor
  • Jane Freeman, Ellsworth
    Vice President
  • Mary Jude, Lamoine


  • Dotty Caldwell, Penobscot
  • Jo Ann Carlson, Bucksport
  • Andrea Devereux, Penobscot
  • Anastasia Roy, Ellsworth
  • Betty Robshaw, Bucksport
  • Dwight Sargent, Lamoine
  • Mary Soper, Orland
  • Cindy Thayer, Gouldsboro

Hancock County Extension Staff

Our annual report features highlights of recent accomplishments and the difference we make in the lives of Maine citizens and their communities.

Hancock County Highlights

Food Systems Programming

Tackling Food Insecurity
Extension Volunteers Grow Food for Maine Harvest for Hunger

Extension volunteers Susan Stahlberg, Rose Ann Schultz and Mary Beth Dorsey with produce they grew
Extension volunteers Susan Stahlberg, Rose Ann Schultz and Mary Beth Dorsey grew crops for Maine Harvest for Hunger at Hancock Community Garden.

Cooperative Extension’s Maine Harvest for Hunger program empowers local gardeners to grow fresh vegetables for those in need. Participants receive free vegetable seeds, gardening guidance, and logistical support in donating produce to Hancock County’s food pantries, free community meal sites, homeless shelters and limited income housing facilities. In 2017, our gardening volunteers grew and donated 5,500 pounds of produce for hunger relief.

Visit the How You Can Help page to learn more.

Food Preservation

  • UMaine Cooperative Extension offers a variety of Food Preservation videos online. Topics include Freezing Strawberries, Green Beans, and Fiddleheads. Visit the Food Preservation “How To” Videos page.

Apple Gleaning Feeds Neighbors in Need

Extension volunteers, in an orchard, gleaning apples
Extension volunteers Jill Ames, Jan Migneault, Tony Aman, Dotty Caldwell, Alilia Blodgett, David Struck and Connie Curtin gleaned apples for hunger relief at Johnston’s Orchard.

Cooperative Extension continues to support volunteer-based gleaning (food recovery) of excess farm produce, making it available to people in need. For our seventh consecutive year, thanks to the generosity of Brett and Doris Johnston of Johnston’s Apple Orchard in Ellsworth, 32 Extension volunteers recovered 4,700 pounds of apples in October 2017, which we immediately distributed to 22 hunger relief organizations in Hancock and Washington Counties.

Online Newsletters Available

  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Maine Home Garden News is a local resource designed to equip home gardeners with practical information. To receive e-mail notifications, visit the Maine Home Garden News page.
  • Central Maine Farming and Maine Beef Newsletters are available by registering at the E-Mail Newsletter Sign-up page.

Eat Well Volunteers Teach Food Pantry Clients

Eat Well Volunteers conduct a food lesson
Eat Well Volunteers Nicole Gurreri and Elizabeth Byard conduct a food lesson at Loaves & Fishes food pantry.

The Eat Well Volunteers Program was created by Cooperative Extension staff to help us expand our nutrition education to food pantries. Modeled after the Master Gardener Volunteers program, Eat Well Volunteers receive research-based training in basic nutrition, food preparation, and food safety.  Once trained, they conduct demonstrations and distribute fresh produce at local food pantries. The goal of the program is that food pantry clients will consume more fruits and vegetables and develop stronger food self-sufficiency skills.  With support from a grant from Maine Community Foundation in 2017, nine Eat Well Volunteers conducted interactive demonstrations and distribute produce on a bi-weekly basis at four food pantries: Bucksport Community Concerns Food Pantry, Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry in Ellsworth, What’s for Suppah? Food Pantry in Mariaville, and Maine Sea Coast Mission Food Pantry in Cherryfield. The volunteers were able to make a total of 800 educational contacts with food pantry clients!  These nine Eat Well Volunteers gave 700 hours of volunteer service in 2017.  The Independent Sector estimates the 2017 value for volunteer time in Maine at $22.53 per hour; thus, their volunteer contribution is valued at $15,771. Seven additional volunteers have been trained in the spring of 2018, and we are training volunteers to conduct outreach at the Island Food Pantry in Stonington.

Maine Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP)

EFNEP is one of the major outreach efforts of UMaine Cooperative Extension.  EFNEP is free to income-eligible adults with children who are are eligible for programs such as SNAP, WIC, or Head Start.

Participants learn how to:

  • Cook new recipes
  • Choose healthy foods
  • Save money at the grocery store
  • Keep food safe to eat
  • Be more active

Adult Outcomes:

Over the past year Community Education Assistant, Debra Spurling worked with 21 adults, reaching 98 people in the program families.

Of the 21 adults, 3 participants graduated from the program and 18 will continue with the Eat Well Program until the educational objectives are met.

As a result of participation in the Eat Well Program in Hancock County all of the adults who graduated improved in food safety, cooking meals at home, planning meals, comparing food prices and eat more fruits and vegetables.

Support for Blueberry Producers

blueberriesThe wild blueberry crop for Hancock County was 10.2 million pounds in 2017.  This year approximately 75 Hancock County blueberry producers attended spring grower meetings at the Hancock County Extension office where they learned the latest in blueberry production research and updated their pesticide licensing credentials. Extension Blueberry Specialist, Dr. David Yarborough, conducted (3) Integrated Crop Management Field Training Sessions through G.M. Allen’s Freezer in Orland.

Wild blueberry fact sheets, past newsletters, contacts, resource links, calendar of events, a list of Value-Added Blueberry Products, and more can be found at the Maine Wild Blueberry page.

Hancock County Food Security Network Tackles Regional Issues

7th Annual Hancock County Food Drive logo artCooperative Extension brings together representatives from food pantries, free community meal sites, and other agencies that address hunger through quarterly gatherings of the Hancock County Food Security Network.  One major accomplishment of this team was the seventh annual Hancock County Food Drive that occurred during the month of March 2018. Through collaborative fundraising efforts, the team raised $22,673 for hunger relief in Hancock County. Additionally, thirty-two schools, businesses, churches, libraries, hospitals, and non-profits collected 4,250 donated food items. The funds and food were distributed among the sixteen Hancock County food pantries, community meal sites and school backpack programs that helped implement the drive.

Garden Hotline Provides Assistance to Hancock County Residents

  • Extension Horticulture Educator Marjorie Peronto and coworkers fielded more than 500 inquiries from Hancock County residents regarding pest management, soil test interpretation, food production, ornamental gardening, composting, pesticide safety and much more. 576 soil tests were performed.

Online Gardening Resources Include:

Advanced Training in Pruning Woody Landscape Plants

Pruning Course participant practices pruning a crabapple tree.
Pruning Course participant Gordon Lyman
practices pruning a crabapple tree.

Eighteen people from twelve Hancock County towns took our 4-part course in Pruning Woody Landscape Plants. This advanced training for tree care professionals, landscapers and home gardeners gives participants hands-on practice pruning ornamental trees and shrubs, fruit trees and small fruits. The only training of its kind in the state, it draws participants from a large geographic region. In the last four years, seventy-three people from four Maine counties have completed the training.

Extension Educator Marjorie Peronto Recognized with National Award

National Association of County Agricultural Agents logoIn 2017, the National Association of County Agriculture Agents presented Marjorie Peronto with a National Search for Excellence Award for her horticultural work that addressed food insecurity in Hancock County.  This work included her training of Master Gardener Volunteers to grow food for hunger relief, her training of Eat Well Volunteers to conduct educational outreach and distribute fresh produce in food pantries, her organization of large-scale apple gleaning and distribution, her initiation of youth gardening programs, and her collaborative role in the annual Hancock County Food Drive.

Horticulture Programming

Master Gardener Volunteers Strengthen Our Community

In the spring of 2018, nineteen Hancock County residents completed the Master Gardener Volunteers (MGV) training, an in-depth course in horticulture and volunteerism taught by UMaine Cooperative Extension faculty and local experts. The annual MGV training runs from January through May, after which the trainees conduct volunteer projects such as growing and gleaning food for hunger relief, youth gardening initiatives, offering public gardening workshops, and creating demonstration public landscape plantings with native plants using low impact techniques.

In 2017, a total of 134 Hancock County Master Gardeners strengthened our community through their volunteer efforts.  Collectively, Hancock County MGVs contributed 7,505 hours of labor valued at $169,087 in 2017. (calculated using $22.53 per hour, source: Independent Sector, The Value of Volunteer Time/State and Historical Data page). Master Gardener Volunteer community projects are located in the towns of Bar Harbor, Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Eastbrook, Ellsworth, Hancock, Mount Desert, Northeast Harbor, Seal Cove, Southwest Harbor, and Trenton.

2018 Hancock County Master Gardener Volunteers graduating class
2018 Hancock County Master Gardener Volunteers graduating class

Advanced Training in Sustainable Landscaping

Landscaping course participant works on her landscape design
Landscaping course participant, Connie Curtin, works on her landscape design.

In this three-week course, experienced gardeners learned how to assess the existing features of a landscape, create a base map, identify opportunities and constraints for design intervention, and create a functional design.  The course was culminated by the participants installing a new portion of the Hancock County Extension Office landscape that came from their collective design ideas. Eighteen people from fourteen Hancock County towns participated in this course.

4-H Youth Development

4H logo4-H is the positive youth development program of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Hancock County 4-H is focused on educating and empowering youth through hands-on and community-based experiences, with self-directed learning and collaborations. 4-H youth acquire knowledge and skills that will contribute to leadership and the ability to succeed now and in the future. The four “H’s” stand for Head, Heart, Hands, Health, and represents the foundation for positive youth development found in all 4-H programs. With 133 youth enrolled, mentored by 73 adult leaders, Hancock County has one of the largest enrollments of 4-H participants and leaders in the state.

  • 4-H Clubs. A 4-H club is comprised of youth members, led by an adult, with a planned program that is carried on throughout all or most of the year. 4-H Clubs may meet in any location and typically have elected youth officers and a set of rules approved by the membership to govern the club. Hancock County has 9 active clubs focusing on a range of topics such as Robotics, Horses, Goats, Shooting Sports, Beef & Sheep, and General Interest. SPIN Clubs, or “Special Interest” Clubs, are groups that meet with adult volunteers for a specific time (usually 4-6 times) and topics vary according to the volunteer’s expertise, and may include but are not limited to: the natural world, heritage arts, science and technology, photography, music, gardening, shooting sports, and more! These clubs are becoming increasingly popular as they tend to accommodate busy family schedules and target youth interests.
  • Community Collaborations and Partnerships. Hancock County 4-H has been actively collaborating with several community partners to deliver high-quality youth programs. Current partnerships include but are not limited to Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research, UMaine Center for Community Inclusion and Disability Studies, UMaine STEM Ambassadors, and several local school districts.
  • 4-H club member displaying her project 4-H public speaking participant demonstrating a recipe4-H Public Speaking Public Speaking skills are ranked high among desired skill sets of professionals, and this 4-H program provides youth with the opportunity to practice these important skills through club, county, and statewide tournaments. In 2018, there were twelve youth participants (ages 5-15) in the county tournament and four who moved on to compete at the state level. Two youth were invited to participate in a New England-wide event in Massachusetts as members of the Eastern States Exposition “Communication Science Team”. Youth learned how to prepare with research and organization, and then presented on a topic of their choice. Hancock County youth spoke with style and poise on fascinating topics such as Ocean Zones, Equine Dentistry, Making Strawberry Lemonade, and more!
  • 4-H members participanting in Style Revue4-H Style Revue is Hancock County’s annual sewing contest open to 4-H’ers interested in sewing, knitting, crocheting, clothing, and textiles. This year we had 20 youth participants, most of them Cloverbuds (ages 5-8), who modeled their handmade projects on the fashion runway. Sewing projects included pillowcases, pajama pants, grocery bags, dresses, and more! We look forward to encouraging these skills in Hancock County youth each year and hope to see all of the new Cloverbud sewers continue to participate in the years to come.
  • 4-H youth at the annual June Jamboree4-H June Jamboree is an annual three-day event held at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds featuring hands-on workshops, livestock clinics, and overnight camping. There were approximately 75 participants and over 15 adult volunteers. Youth participated in a range of hands-on workshops spanning topics in science, art, animal husbandry, horseback riding, and so much more. We were fortunate to welcome workshop presenters from Maine CDC, Explore Outdoors! The program, Maine Ham Radio Society, and Maine EPSCoR/SEANET who connected Hancock County youth to their exciting programs. Participants reported learning new things, meeting new people, and a strong sense of belonging to the Hancock County 4-H community.
  • 4-H group participating in Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF)Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF). Every summer, high school students from across the country travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in this eight-day intensive leadership and citizenship program for high school students. CWF delegates learn about the democratic process and their role as citizens while they experience the nation’s capital. This year, Hancock County sent a record of four 4-H youth who reported it was one of the best experiences of their lives!
  • Master Gardener Volunteers who deliver youth programming participated in an interactive workshop designed to introduce effective strategies for engaging youth, managing behavior, and minimizing risk in informal educational settings. Twenty-one MGV participated and were highly engaged. One participant commented that it was: “the most worthwhile two hours I’ve spent in a long time!”
  • Youth Voice Youth Choice. Hancock County 4-H delivered hands-on activities focused on healthy living to 205 youth at Downeast Family YMCA Camp Discovery in Eastbrook in July and August 2017. Each week, five teen leaders and a 4-H staff member facilitated activities that included cooking meals, making recipes, and physical activity. The teen leaders reported increased confidence in cooking for themselves, family, and friends. Youth participants reported an increased willingness to try new recipes, even if they don’t think they will like it!

To find out more about 4-H in Hancock County, visit our Hancock County 4-H Facebook page.

4-H youth working with a tray of pretzels

In addition to these, Hancock County 4-H youth participated in many other county and state 4-H programs, including:

  • 4-H youth on a horse4-H Fall Awareness Days
  • Maine 4-H Days
  • 4-H@UMaine
  • Cloverfest
  • 4-H Photo Contest
  • Blue Hill Fair 4-H Exhibit Hall & Livestock Shows
  • Ellsworth Winter Carnival
  • Ellsworth Christmas Parade
  • Paper Clover Campaigns at Tractor Supply Co.
  • 4-H Camp & Learning Centers at Tanglewood and Blueberry Cove
  • Kids Can Grow gardening program
    (a collaboration with Master Gardener Volunteers)

Our 4-Hers also continue to give back to their communities through their service:

  • Hancock County Food Drive
  • Volunteering within their communities at nursing homes, animal shelters, local schools, hosting community meals
  • Gathering donations as a club or at events for the homeless and animal shelters
  • Roadside cleanups

Small Business in Hancock County

  • Expanding Resource Directory for Food Entrepreneurs.  Food-based enterprises and manufacturers require a wide range of information to help them successfully develop and market their products to consumers through various retail outlets. Three Cooperative Extension faculty members collaborated in the creation of a comprehensive online resource directory for aspiring or existing food manufacturers wanting to produce a specialty food product. Since launching the Resource Directory in 2017, Cooperative Extension faculty have continued to enhance, expand, and refine the directory to increase access and usefulness.  This year we initiated a social media campaign through Facebook, which has resulted in a 25% increase in the number of people using the resource. Information in the directory is organized into broad sections for ease of use. Food entrepreneurs will find useful information on business planning (including samples of business plans for various food enterprises) marketing, financing options, and using food brokers, co-packers, and distributors. Other sections identify important trade associations, trade shows, publications and more.

The Food Entrepreneurs Resource Directory is available online on the Resources for Small Food Businesses in Maine page.

  • Improving Access to Business Capital. Aspiring and existing entrepreneurs need capital to start, improve and expand their businesses to create good paying jobs for Maine people. UMaine Cooperative Extension supports improved access to financing for Maine business through its collaboration with Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC), which provides both direct loans and SBA loan guarantees to prospective borrowers.A representative from Extension has served on EMDC’s Loan Review Committee for many years. As an active member of that committee, Extension provides guidance and oversight on credit and lending strategies, reviews loan applications and along with other business and community leaders that serve on the committee, arrive at a loan recommendation.
  • Program Impact for Hancock County from October 2017 through March 2018 (six months) 12 loans was made to Hancock County businesses.  The total dollars loaned were $1,294,120. An additional $3,187,699 was leveraged bringing the total dollars to $4,481,819 injected into the local economy.  As a result, 68 jobs were created or retained in Hancock County.
  • Business Consultations Opportunities for aspiring or existing business owners to meet individually with knowledgeable business resources is available throughout the year.  Consultations are free and individuals can meet as many times as needed.
  • Food Safety & Quality Training. Dr. Jason Bolton, Extension’s Food Safety Specialist provided food safety and quality training to the following Hancock County food industry businesses:
    • Maine Fair Trade Lobster
    • Maine Shellfish
    • Bar Harbor Carmel Corn
    • Chow Maine
    • Maine Coast Sea Vegetables, Inc.

University of Maine Cooperative Extension Support for Hancock County

Without statewide support, UMaine Extension would not be present in your 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.

Hancock County CY2017
Local Salaries and Benefits $231,152
Prorated Support from UMaine* $420,345
Computer Equipment and Networking $786
Statewide Animal Diagnostic Lab $4,350
Marketing, Publications, Video $1,335
Local Programming Supplies & Expenses $8,806
Postage $1,162
Telephone $714
Travel $5,884
TOTAL $674,534
* Prorated support from UMaine reflects travel, postage, telephone, computer equipment and networking, salaries and benefits for administrative and statewide staff.

Statewide Extension Funding

As a unique partnership among federal, state and county governments, UMaine Extension uses funding from Maine counties and the University to match and leverage support from the United States Department of Agriculture, other federal grantors, state agencies and private foundations. Each county UMaine Extension office is also part of a statewide organization and the national Extension system.

This pie graph illustrates the financial resources for programs offered, supported and managed out of the Waldo County office. Each year, Waldo county tax dollars support the UMaine extension with physical office space, support staff salaries, office supplies, equipment and some programming expenses.

Funding 2017

2017 Funding Sources: Univ. E&G = $7,465,556; MEIF = $399,300; Grants and Contracts = $2,769,928; Federal Capacity Funds = $2,983,166; Gifts and Fundraising = $572,382; County Funds = $508,651; Income from Operations = $1,018,906

Hancock County Extension Funding and Expenses (Local)

Hancock County Extension Funding and Expenses (Local): Lease and Insurance = $14,561; Supplies and Equipment = $6,378; Educational Program Expenses = $1,410; Support Staff Salaries = $36,279; Utilities= $5,607; Building and Grounds Maintenance = $11,433

Hancock County Extension Office Expenses FY2017

Below explains the financial resources for programs offered, supported and managed out of the Hancock county extension office for 2017.

Financial Resources for Programs Offered, Supported and Managed Out of Hancock County Extension Office for 2017
Hancock County Commissioner’s support * $73,200
Other Income:  Donations to Hancock County Extension Association to help pay for office expenses and programming supplies $1,860
The balance of 4th quarter appropriation to pay support staff salaries and office expenses for the 1st quarter of the new year $22,679
Total Resources for FY 2017 $97,739
* Each year, Hancock County tax dollars support the UMaine Cooperative Extension office with physical office space, support staff salaries, office supplies, equipment and some programming expenses.  For every $1 in County funds, the UMaine Cooperative Extension invests $10 of Extension work in Hancock County.

Statewide Highlights – Maine Food System

Helping Grain Growers Expand to Serve High Value, Specialty Markets

The growing demand for locally grown and processed small grains, such as barley, oats, rye, and wheat, represents an economic opportunity for Maine’s farmers. Current and aspiring small grain farmers face a continuing need to improve their skills and capacities with grains that meet the quality standards of high-value specialty markets such as baking, brewing, and distilling for human consumption, as well as organic feed for dairy and egg production.

Hands extended, holding grainGrain farmers, processors, and buyers improved their skills, markets, and business viability as a result of Extension’s Local Grains Program, including growing a new crop, changing a fertility, weed, or disease practice, and improving cleaning, drying and storage systems. These changes resulted in improved grain yields and quality, enhanced farm or grain business viability, and improved family quality of life. For organic small grains, production, yields, and value have increased dramatically in Maine over the last 5 years.

In 2016:

  • 2/3 of the processors reported having increased purchases and developed new sources and markets
  • Maine grew 3.6 times more organic small grains compared with 2011 (1423 vs. 498 tons), on 2.5 times more acres
  • 20% increase in yield
  • $800,000 total value of organic small grains and pulses produced by Maine farmers

Researching Hops as a Maine Crop and Supporting Growers

Maine is home to 60 breweries producing over 200 beers and is a leader in the production of craft beers. Yet most of the ingredients are imported into the state, including the hops that give our products their unique character. Developing a sustainable hops industry in Maine to supply the brewing industry will enhance product appeal and reduce reliance on imported ingredients. Maine breweries added $228 million to the state’s economy in 2016 and employed 2177 people.

60 Maine Breweries

$228 Million Added to Maine’s economy annually

200 Local Beers

Vats in a beer breweryUMaine Extension established a hops variety trial and demonstration planting at the Maine Agricultural Experiment Station at Highmoor Farm to determine suitable types and production practices in Maine and conducted an Extension Hops to educate new and potential grower.

Over 40 growers and potential growers visited the hops trial site. Eighty-nine new growers and potential growers attended the hops school, and 20 attended the hops twilight meeting. As a result of the trainings at least three new commercial hops plantings are being established, and a hops grower association is forming. Eighteen of the people attending the hops school intend to start a commercial hops yard within the next 3 years. Portland-based Allagash Brewing Co., which used over 115,000 pounds of local grains in 2017, has pledged to use 1 million pounds of Maine-grown grains annually by 2021.

Master Farmers and Dairy Grazing Apprentices

Maine has an aging population of dairy farmers. Dairy farming is an occupation that is both physically demanding occupation and difficult to enter without significant capital. Dairy is important to the state since it serves as a major supporter of many agricultural support businesses.

Many organizations have partnered to find ways to help this industry, including Maine Farmland Trust, MOFGA, Dairy Industry Association, Land for Good, and UMaine Extension. In 2016, supported by a grant from Stonyfield Yogurt, Wolfe’s Neck Farm (WNF) initiated the organic dairy training program to try to train a new generation of dairy farmers. WNF partnered with the Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship (DGA) to provide a two-year training program with education coordination from Extension.

Currently, there are six Master Farmers in Maine, and five apprentices and WNF apprentices who are completing a two year, 4,000-hour training program. As an example of the utility of the program, a small organic dairy farmer recently was severely injured in a farming accident. WNF was able to work with Organic Valley, Extension, and the DGA program to provide trained apprentices to the farm to enable it to stay in business during the farmer’s four-week recovery. Without DGA support they likely would have had to sell the cows.

Meeting the Demands of New and Emerging Milk Markets

U.S. organic agriculture operations are rising, with USDA data showing a 13 percent increase in certified organic farms and businesses between 2015 and 2016. With this growth, organic dairy processors and farmers are expanding into what used to be a niche market. A UMaine Extension assessment of organic dairy farmers in the Northeast revealed that to meet the demands of new and emerging markets these farmers need to extend the grazing season and implement practices consistent with entering the value-added milk market.

To extend the grazing season while improving the nutritional quality and content of omega-3 fatty acids in forage-based diets, Extension developed and assessed multi-cultivar mixtures of cool season perennial grass and legume species, and evaluated cool and warm season annual forages through agronomic research. We also assessed the utility of supplemental ground flaxseed to further bolster health-beneficial fatty acids (omega-3 and conjugated linoleic acid – CLA) and enhance the marketability of organic milk. Our findings were shared with farmers.

As a result:

  • Cows in a portable milking machineOver 100 northeastern organic dairy farmers transitioned their milking cows to high-forage or forage-only diets.
  • Over 200 northeastern organic dairies adopted or fine-tuned the use of annual forage crops to extend the grazing season.
  • Fifty of the dairy farmers interviewed reported increased milk production and milk quality and reduced grain/feed purchases, with farmers saying improved forage yield and quality were the major contributors to these outcomes.
  • Over 6,000 acres of organic summer annuals have been planted in NH, ME, VT, PA, and NY.
  • Milk content of omega-3 fatty acids and CLA increased an average of 76 and 42%, respectively, in cows fed ground flaxseed compared with those not receiving flax supplementation.

Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory

Accurate and early detection of animal diseases is important in limiting or eradicating the impacts of disease. With Maine’s continued growth of small farms getting animal health information into the hands of farmers is vitally important, as is having a state conduit for veterinarians to learn about livestock disease.

The Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory serves the state’s veterinarians, livestock producers, and animal owners by performing diagnostic services that include necropsy, microbiology, virology, pathology, and special research support. Through Extension, it links with industry to help control animal health-related problems. A new Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory will expand services to serve Maine’s over 8,000 farms.

In 2017, the lab tested over 10,000 samples, the majority of which were from farm animals. It tested over 7,000 poultry samples and over 3,000 milk samples, thus allowing farms of all sizes to operate with more assurance of healthy animals and healthy products. Poultry farms were able to meet their FDA-requirements for salmonella testing locally. Sheep and goat owners were able to find out whether their animals have enteric parasites, and what to do about it.

Salmonella Testing at the Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory

Maine has a poultry industry worth $38,983,000. For any of Maine’s 8,200 farms that raise hens to sell eggs, testing for salmonella, especially Salmonella enterica subspecies enteritidis (SE) is a prudent plan. Mid- to large-scale farms are required by the FDA to test their environment for SE. UMAHL’s National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) certified salmonella testing allows Maine poultry farms to meet FDA standards for Salmonella enteric enteritidis (SE) screening.

The Cooperative Extension Diagnostic and Research Laboratory provides timely and continuous access to SE testing to large and medium-scale poultry producers. The outcome of this work protects public health via prevention of human salmonellosis (SE) that might be acquired through eggs; it is estimated that the cost to the egg industry of an SE outbreak could be higher than 10% of production.

Master Food Preservers

Economic sustainability of farms is a daily issue faced by farmers, who understand that profitable farms are sustainable farms. Consumer purchasing power can significantly impact the profit base for farmers. Home food preservation education programs can increase consumer sales and ultimately the profitability of farms by influencing point of purchase consumer behaviors to preserve (freeze, can, dry) fresh produce to use in the “off-season” to increase access to local foods.

UMaine Extension adult and youth food preservation education efforts are extended through our Master Food Preservers program. Master Food Preservers serve as volunteers and a community resource to provide the public with research-based information from Extension and USDA. In 2017, 64 Master Food Preserver volunteers contributed over 760 hours of food preservation education and community projects, reaching over 2190 people in 9 Maine counties. Volunteers taught 86 preserving workshops, staffed educational displays, and demonstrated at farmers’ markets, harvest festivals, agricultural fairs, and local food events.

64 Master Food Preservers

760 Volunteer Hours

2,190 People in 9 Maine Counties

Volunteer Hours = $18,000 in Wages

The time volunteered by Master Food Preservers is the equivalent of over $18,000 in wages.

So You Want to Farm in Maine?

corn and bowl of chilis and tomatoesCurrent farmers thinking about changing farm enterprises and new farmers interested in starting a farm often lack skill, knowledge, and confidence in areas such as access to capital, rules and regulations affecting agriculture operations, and marketing.

Since 2011, UMaine Extension has provided diverse educational outreach through its “So You Want to Farm in Maine” series to enhance the skills, business management knowledge, the confidence of new and established farmers. Extension programs are live, live-streamed and archived, and reached 754 participants from all Maine counties and out-of-state. Topics included agriculture enterprise selection, business planning, record keeping, market research, regulations, and resource identification.

The series trained people to pursue farming as a viable career option.

  • 69 % increased knowledge about the importance of developing a business plan and the items a farm business plan should include.
  • 67 % increased knowledge about where to look for resources and information about their farm enterprise of interest including web resources, government agencies, universities, and other organizations.
  • 67 % increased knowledge about production and financial recordkeeping and the different methods that can be used including paper and electronic records.
  • 64 % increased knowledge about market research techniques that they could implement to refine the knowledge of markets for their agriculture products.
  • 56 % increased knowledge about the rules and regulations affecting agriculture enterprises and the agencies that enforce them.

Many students have already implemented new practices. As a result of attending the program, the number of farmers increased from 27% to 73% and 3-4 people worked on the farm. In the fourth year, when the training qualified as FSA borrower training, farmers with FSA loans were able to complete their loan requirements and received nearly $313,000 in farm loans.

Supporting Maine’s Potato Industry

Barn and tractorHands picking potatoes out of the ground The $500 million potato industry is the largest agricultural sector in Maine, encompassing over 500 businesses generating over $300 million in annual sales, employing over 2600 people, and providing over $112 million in income to Maine citizens. The management of insects, diseases, weeds, and other pests is integral in sustaining a healthy Maine potato crop. Potato growers are increasingly relying on a multidisciplinary Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to ensure that Maine’s potato crop is pest and damage free while attempting to minimize the number of pesticides that are applied.

UMaine Extension’s Potato IPM Program impacts Maine’s 300 commercial potato growers and 48,000 acres of potatoes and has become an integral part of the Maine Potato Industry. The program also broadly impacts national and international growers who rely on the state’s seed crop. The project maintains nearly 100 specialized insect traps, coordinates a statewide network of electronic weather stations, and surveys 75 potato fields on a weekly basis for weeds, insects, and diseases. IPM scientists track potential pest outbreaks to provide growers with current information on treatments to minimize the number of pesticide applications and maximize potato yield.

The economic impact from Extension’s pest monitoring and educational programs for the 2017 season is estimated at over $8.8 million.

Statewide Highlights – Community & Economic Development

Supporting Local Business Expansion

The goal of UMaine Extension’s Food Safety programs is to ensure a safe food supply while reducing foodborne illness risks by teaching proper sanitation, food preservation, and food-handling practices. To that end Extension educators, specialists, and professionals conduct a variety of programs for Maine citizens and food businesses. In 2014, a gourmet gelato business, Gelato Fiasco, was operating out of a small commercial facility producing about 2,000 units a day, with 10 full-time employees. The business’ sales had increased and they required an expansion of their current facility.

From 2014 to 2017 Extension staff provided technical and educational support to assist with general food safety, quality, sanitation, facility design, and regulations. UMaine Extension assisted the business with designing a new 10,000 sq. ft. facility, including scale-up and sourcing processing equipment. Gelato Fiasco is now safely producing and selling over 13,000 units per day out of their newly expanded facility and employing 24 full-time employees.

Facilitating Community Planning to Support Affordable Housing

Housing costs in southern Maine coastal communities are largely unaffordable to the local community’s workforce, with the majority of residents spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

UMaine Sea Grant and UMaine Extension facilitated a planning process with the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast, the Town of Berwick, and community members. Workshops were held to engage the community in conversations about the disconnect between income and housing costs and the need to plan for the housing needs of the community’s workforce.

As a result of the workshops, recommendations were made to the community’s redevelopment plans. Community planning and actions provided the town with new resource and ideas, and a vision for the future that has attracted significant funding and investors. The Town applied for a U.S. EPA Brownfield Program grant and was awarded $600,000, the largest single-site grant in the history of the Brownfields grant program nationwide.

Homemakers Promoting Community Based Adult Education

Extension Homemakers is a volunteer group that develops leadership skills, supports community causes, and promotes UMaine Extension’s educational programs in nine Maine counties. These organized programs are part of the statewide network of Extension Homemakers that participate in educational programs and identify community projects, such as providing assistance to local food pantries or nursing homes or veterans groups, funding educational scholarships or youth camp programs.
In 2017, over 600 Extension Homemakers from over 40 Local Extension Homemaker Groups met and delivered or engaged in Extension programming involving over 3,100 participants and 321 programs including food, personal and community; nutrition and health; gardening and environmental, financial planning and consumer; personal growth; and cultural and creative arts.

600 Extension Homemakers

$541,00 Monetary Value to Their Communities

In many Maine counties, Extension Homemakers remain a traditional and vital part of the community fabric. They provide direct and indirect benefits in terms of volunteer hours, fundraising, and material donations. In 2017, the total estimated monetary value of the Extension Homemaker program to their communities was over $541,000.

College Students take Action on Food Insecurity

Since 2014, UMaine Extension has collaborated with the Maine Campus Compact to hold annual Maine Hunger Dialogues, inviting all Maine colleges and universities to send students and staff to learn about hunger on local, national, and global scales, and to leave with ideas and action plans for ending hunger in their regions. The events promote inter and intra-campus networking to capitalize on the diverse group.

In 2017, 80 students and staff from 14 campuses attended the Maine Hunger Dialogue where they developed new partnerships, assessed community needs and assets, and set goals and steps to reach them. Eleven teams successfully applied for Maine Hunger Dialogue grants to support new and existing initiatives. Teams used the funds to develop food recovery networks, initiate food pantries and resource hubs, donate fresh produce to food insecure students, conduct food drives and hunger awareness initiatives, host cooking on a budget and nutrition courses to food insecure adults and children, supported income refugee and immigrant residents with a healthy cooking workshop series, and helped build capacity between students and local Native American residents through providing a nutrition and food preservation workshop series. “Meal food pack-outs” (packaging healthy nonperishable meals) held at UMaine packed 107,562 meals that were distributed to food insecure students and community members.

students packing food for hungry MainersThrough the Maine Hunger Dialogue, Extension has strengthened partnerships with Maine Campus Compact, Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine Corporations, UMaine System campuses, and other Maine Institutions of Higher Education.

Analyzing Cruise Ship Tourism in Bar Harbor

Cruise Ship tourism is one of the fastest growing segments of Maine’s tourism industry. In 2016, 377 cruise ships, carrying 283,000 passengers were scheduled to visit Maine’s twelve ports, up 6 percent from 2015. Maine’s busiest port, Bar Harbor, has experienced remarkable growth, hosting 117 cruise ships carrying 163,000 passengers in 2016, a 36 percent increase since 2002. While the cruise ship industry is growing rapidly, little is known about the current demographic characteristics of these passengers or what their economic impact is on the Bar Harbor area economy.

The UMaine School of Economics and UMaine Extension examined the economic impacts of cruise ship passengers visiting Bar Harbor. The study found that cruise ship passengers spent an average of $108.21 on goods and services in the town of Bar Harbor during 2016. The total annual economic impact of cruise ship passenger spending, including multiplier effects, was over $20 million in sales revenue throughout the Bar Harbor area. Economic activity associated with this spending supported 379 full- and part-time jobs and provided $5.4 million in wages and salaries.

The results of this research were presented to the Bar Harbor Town Council, posted to the town’s website, and widely disseminated through television, radio, newspaper, Internet, and town meetings. Small business merchants in Bar Harbor have found the report very useful to their cruise ship passenger marketing efforts and local policymakers have used it to educate the public about the economic importance of cruise ship tourism to the Bar Harbor economy, especially during the shoulder seasons.

Providing Access to Capital: $8 Million Invested in Local Communities

Aspiring and existing entrepreneurs need capital to start, improve and expand their businesses to create good paying jobs for Maine people. Many business owners are challenged to secure adequate funding from traditional lenders to start or expand a business. However, by partnering with a regional economic development organization, traditional lenders like banks are able to increase access to capital for Maine businesses that otherwise would not be eligible for financing.

379 Full- and Part-Time Jobs

$5.4 Million in Wages and Salaries

$20 Million in Sales Revenue Throughout the Bar Harbor Area

UMaine Cooperative Extension supports improved access to financing for Maine business through its collaboration with a regional economic development agency that provides SBA loan guarantees for prospective borrowers. As an active member of the Loan Review Committee, Extension provides guidance and oversight on credit and lending strategies, reviews loan applications and along with other business and community leaders arrives at a loan recommendation.

In fiscal year 2017 the Loan Review Committee approved 33 loans of over $3.2 million to 29 businesses. Over $4.9 million was leveraged bringing the total investment to over $8 million. Forty-eight jobs were created or retained, and seven of Maine’s 16 counties benefited from the program.

Statewide Highlights – 4-H Youth Development

Tech Wizards Students Helping Solve Real Community Problems

Tech Wizards is a youth mentoring program that uses STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education and service learning to help youth learn life and workforce skills, improve academic performance, and aspire to post-secondary education, productive careers, and community engagement.

Students from Captain Albert Stevens Elementary School in Belfast are working with local naturalists, biologists and a drone pilot to survey and map their local watershed to gather and share data about the health of Wescott Stream, where they will release classroom-raised salmon in 2018. Native salmon are currently listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Through Tech Wizards, the students joined their science teacher and 4-H mentors and:

  • Used videography and photography to record findings from water quality tests and biotic indices for evaluation by the scientific community, and used a local drone pilot to identify and mapped species vectors and barriers to salmon migration.
  • Researched several aquatic habitats using field guides.
  • Critically evaluated the veracity of their research and received feedback from local experts.
  • Practiced nature drawing techniques with a local naturalist.
  • Developed a new outdoor classroom at Tanglewood 4-H Camp and Learning Center as a community service project.
  • Were introduced to career opportunities within science, technology, and art.

Statewide in 2017, Maine’s Tech Wizards program matched 275 students with community mentors in 7 schools. Students participated in ongoing fieldwork, citizen science initiatives, and service learning and were empowered to engage with their communities and contribute their time and skills to address important scientific questions and to recognize that environmental stewardship is both the platform for their learning and an overarching life ethic.

4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice

4H logoIn Maine, 28 percent of youth are overweight or obese and 17 percent of children under age 19 live in poverty. One of the most common and preventable risk factors for premature death is consuming too few fruits and vegetables. In 2009, 72 percent of Maine adults consumed less than five servings of fruits or vegetables per day, while only 20 percent of Maine middle school students and 15 percent of Maine high school students consumed five servings of fruits or vegetables per day. In 2015, only 19 percent of Maine adults were meeting minimum recommendations for physical activity.

UMaine Extension implemented the national 4-H Youth Voice: Youth Choice program to mobilize under-served youth to take action around nutritional deficiencies, healthy food choices, and physical activity. The goal is to train 50 teen teachers to educate 2000 underserved youth about nutrition and physical activity, to change knowledge, attitudes, and behavior so youth will make healthy food, physical activity, and lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of obesity and chronic disease later in life. A second goal is to create supportive community environments where healthy lifestyles are the norm.

Of teen teachers participating in Maine YVYC:

  • 88 % reported eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • 66 % reported eating less junk food.
  • 71 % reported drinking less soda.
  • 88 % reported drinking more water.
  • 93 % reported learning cooking skills to prepare healthy foods at home.

Of youth participating in Maine YVYC:

  • 91 % reported eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • 81 % reported eating less junk food.
  • 88 % reported drinking more water.
  • 70 % of youth participants reported being physically active for 60 minutes every day.
  • 90 % agreed that being active is fun, and will help them stay healthy.

Meeting Learning Standards through Lakeside and Open Air Classrooms

Educators in Maine K-12 schools are tasked with aligning their lessons in meaningful ways with local and national learning standards. To succeed in meeting standards and improving student learning, teachers are looking beyond the walls of their classrooms to integrate different academic content areas and engage students in active learning environments. Gardens, vernal ponds, forested land, and outdoor classrooms have become more popular at schools across Maine, but teachers often lack the professional support to know how to best use these spaces to incorporate curricula.

UMaine Extension’s 4-H Camp and Learning Centers’ Open Air Classrooms (OAC), at Tanglewood, Blueberry Cove and Lakeside Classroom at Bryant Pond provide residential, nature and school-based programs that help schools to meet learning standards.

In 2017, the 4-H Camp and Learning Centers conducted Lakeside and OAC programs and with over 5,000 students from 100 Maine school groups. Teachers find the OAC a valuable complement to their traditional classroom.

University of Maine logo4-H@UMaine Gives Youth a Preview of the College Experience

Education after high school is critical to supporting skilled jobs in Maine. Engaging youth in getting college degrees helps to grow and strengthen Maine’s businesses and economy. Unfortunately, the number of Maine high school graduates enrolled in higher education lags at 40th in the nation. Although research recommends beginning to address college and career aspirations in elementary and middle grades, coordinating access to a college campus presents barriers for rural Maine communities.

UMaine Extension created 4-H@UMaine to provide a safe and supportive environment for Maine youth grades 6-12 to experience life on a college campus. Participants come to the UMaine campus and imagine the possibility of college attendance as they stay in campus residence halls, eat in the dining commons, get active in the student recreation center, and participate in hands-on workshops with UMaine students, staff, and faculty. While they are there, Extension also fosters healthy relationships using small-group settings led by trained adult leaders and teenage peer mentors.

In 2017, 4-H@UMaine hosted 55 youth (grades 6-10), 15 Teen Leaders (grades 9-12), and 27 adult staff and volunteers. In addition to the traditional youth experience for grades 6-10, college-ready teens took part in an exclusive experience that included pre-event training, planning roles as youth mentors, and workshops to further develop leadership skills and connect with campus staff.

Of those attending 4-H@UMaine:

  • 92% of all the youth indicated they learned about new career possibilities, helping to raise their career aspirations.
  • 91% plan to go to college.

4-H Ambassadors Sparking Student Interest in STEM Careers

STEM program logo artRelevant, meaningful, and authentic experiences in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are important to developing positive attitudes, increasing knowledge, and preparing Maine youth for the estimated 9 million STEM-related occupations projected between 2012 and 2022. Developing Maine youth’s STEM literacy is vital to ensuring that our state continues to thrive economically and socially. Given the remote and diverse communities to which Maine youth belong, informal education can help minimize inequities in rural youth STEM education and career pipelines.

In 2015, with the support of the UMaine System, UMaine Extension created the 4-H STEM Ambassador program, which trains college students as caring mentors to youth, and who facilitate STEM activities with them, and help them learn about college and careers.

Through this program, youth ages 8-14 come to view these Ambassadors as mentors and leaders in their community while also developing skills in STEM through hands-on activities. The program increases student leaders knowledge, and ability with facilitating STEM activities. It also increases university engagement in local communities that UMaine has not traditionally reached.

Youth were excited that someone from UMaine came to share STEM activities. Student participants reported that without this program their instructional time with STEM would be reduced. As a result of this program participating youth have demonstrated positive attitudes, increased knowledge, and expanded interest in STEM and STEM careers.

The County Extension Act

The County Extension Act explains the role of county government in funding local Extension offices.

Cooperative Extension work shall consist of the giving of practical demonstrations in agriculture and natural resources, youth development, and home economics and community life and imparting information on those subjects through field demonstrations, publications and otherwise. For the purpose of carrying out this chapter, there may be created in each county or combination of two counties within the State an organization known as a “county extension association,” and its services available to all residents of a county. The county extension is viewed as a unique and important educational program of county government. The executive committee of each county extension association shall prepare an annual budget as requested, showing in detail its estimate of the amount of money to be expended under this chapter within the county of counties for the fiscal year. The executive committee shall submit to the board of county commissioners on a date requested by the county commissioners, and the county commissioners may, if they deem it justifiable, adopt an appropriate budget for the county extension program and levy a tax therefore. The amount thus raised by direct taxation within any county or combination of counties for the purposes of this chapter shall be used for the salaries of clerks, provision of office space, supplies, equipment, postage, telephone, a contribution toward the salaries of county educators and such other expenses as necessary to maintain an effective county extension program.1

1Excerpted from Title 7, Chapter 7 of the Maine Revised Statutes, §191–§195.

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.


The University of Maine Cooperative Extension York County office is an EEO/AA employer, and does not discriminate on the grounds of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, transgender status, gender expression, national origin, citizenship status, age, disability, genetic information or veteran’s status in employment, education, and all other programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Sarah E. Harebo, Director of Equal Opportunity, 101 North Stevens Hall, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469-5754, 207.581.1226, TTY 711 (Maine Relay System).