2022 July PCEA-EC Minutes

Minutes: Piscataquis County Extension Association Executive Committee Meeting July 11, 2022, at 3 p.m. By Zoom


  • Members: Judy Cross, Joe Dietz, Beth McEvoy DVM, Rick Cabot, and Kim Merrit
  • Staff: Donna Coffin, Sheila Norman, Anette Moulton, Laurie Bowen, and Lisa Phelps
  • Guest: Sarah Robinson

Business Meeting:

Secretary’s Report – May 2022 minutes accepted as presented. The meeting was recorded to be available to create minutes of this meeting. 

  • Treasurer’s Report – Noted the One Tomato purchase in addition to regular expenses. Accepted as presented. Rick investigated the option of moving $50,000 into an interest-bearing account, but due to the cost of checks, the recent purchase of checks that will last a few years, low-interest rate, and the high complexity of change it was agreed to keep the current account as is.
  • Transactions
  • Cash flow

Program Updates from Staff

Sheila reviewed the 4-H youth report.

  1. Today, Sheila and Emily met with Mrs. Gosselin’s class and talked about fruits and vegetables. We made ants on a log (raisins and peanut butter on celery). Almost all of the students liked it and most said they’d make this at home.
  2. Sheila and new volunteer Elizabeth Fralick made bee hummers and presented information from the furbearer and entomology science kits at the Whoopie Pie Festival on June 25. We made a connection with a prospective volunteer that is interested in creating a traditional club in the Brownville area.
  3. Sheila, Emily, and Laurie will have entomology activities at the Pollinator Day events to be held at the Law Farm on August 10.
  4. Emily and Sheila will have an in-person dog clinic at UMaine on August 13 focusing on the skills of Canine Good Citizenship.
  5. The state-wide virtual summer learning program is in full swing. Registration is still open. Sheila will be doing a series of workshops using the Choose Health: Food, Fun, and Fitness curriculum. Emily is partnering with the Maine Challenger Learning Center for a couple of workshops about space.
  6. Sheila, Emily, Laurie, and Donna are starting to prepare for the Piscataquis Valley Fair. We are considering doing an activity with micro-greens using the extra soil we have. If you’d like to volunteer to help staff the building, please see our sign-up sheet or contact the office. Executive committee members make great Exhibit Hall volunteers! More information for prospective volunteers can be found in the volunteer role description.
  7. Plans are underway to start a club this fall with a homeschoolers association. We met this group through our partnership with Soil and Water Conservation.
  8. Sheila continues to represent Extension on the Working Communities Challenge and Emily continues to represent Extension on Helping Hands with Heart.

Laurie reviewed the report on Food preservation and gardening programs.

Food Preservation and Food Safety:

  •   Preserving the Maine Harvest webinars:  Next program is July 21 on Pickling
  •   Cooking for Crowds at Central Hall Commons in the Fall would like suggestions on possible groups to contact that serve meals to the public.  Organizations throughout Piscataquis County. 
  • I am attending Master Food Preserver training for 10 sessions.

Pollinator-Friendly Garden Certification:

  • May 19th, Certified 11 more gardens.  The next meeting date is July 25th.  
  • Certified the pollinator-friendly garden at Law Farm
  • Filmed video to promote pollinator-friendly gardens at Law Farm for pollinator month.  Will begin filming for the in-depth program in July
  • Adult & Children program on supporting pollinators at Thompson Free Library on June 22nd in collaboration with Piscataquis Soil & Water Conservation

Horticulture programming: 

  • Soil Health Day at Law Farm/Piscatauis Soil & Water Conservation District (Dirt Babies)
  • SeDoMoCha Second Grades:
    • Grains & Carrots
    • Composting
    • Soil Health                                   
  • What’s Wrong with My Plant at Thompson Free Library
  • Garden in a Box, Planting day & distribution.  There are 5 demo gardens:
    • Piscataquis Cooperative Extension Office   
    • Thompson Free Library
    • Abbott Library in Dexter
    • Shaw Library in Greenville
    • PRFC garden is at the Piscatquis Regional Y under the care of the summer camp kids
  • When to Harvest at Thompson Free Library

Donna reviewed the report on agriculture and gardening activities.

  1. One-to-one contacts – Phone (35), Email (28), Facebook (16), Face to Face (6), Surface Mail (1) from 70 people included questions on: seeding hayfields, soil fertility & reading soil test results, strange material in compost, fruit tree
    diseases, homesteading information, poultry disease, rabbit disease, hay stumpage, sheep shearer list, orchard information, livestock information and value added products, selling foraged food products, weed control in pasture,
    mushroom toxicity in lawn, insect identification and control, landscape plant suggestions, weed control in home garden and landscape, perennial flower diseases, pruning information, seeding a lawn, heavy metal accumulation in edible crops.
    2. Upcoming Programs/Meetings/Activities
    a. July 18th to 22nd, National Association of County Agriculture Agents Annual Meeting and Professional Improvement Conference, West Palm Beach, FL – presenting a paper, poster and national finalist for Search for Excellence in Farm and Ranch Programs (So You Want to Farm in Maine: Using BrightSpace), Regional winner for newsletter (Maine Farm News), and publication (Houseplant Care).
    b. Aug. 4th: Houseplant Care & Propagation Information Table at Milo Garden Club Plant Sale, 11 am, Milo.
    3. Past Activities
    a. PCEDC Quarterly Meeting on Creating Piscataquis County’s Economic Development Strategy. 15 attended
    b. Grassfed Beef Day: Fencing to Finish: Heartstone Farm, Charleston, lunch provided. 60 attended.
    Foot bath for bio-security Dan talking out in the field Chute and scales Folks inside the hanger

4. Staff Activities
• Working with Sheila and Laurie to transition executive committee responsibilities
• Planning Committee for Ag Price Reporting for this coming summer
• Serving on Maine New Farmers Program (aka: Equipping Farmers with Practical Skills Grant implementation).
• Continue to serve on Maine Farm Resource Network, Home Horticulture and Livestock Program Teams
5. Newsletters & Social Media
E-newsletter Sent Open Clicked
Maine Farm Newsletter (June 18, 2022)* 2,936 1,152 (42%) 152 (6%)
Maine Beef Newsletter (May 2022)** 743 286 (41%) 40 (6%)
* Weather link – 21 clicks. ** Grassfed Beef in Maine program – 11 clicks
Piscataquis County Facebook posts: 29 posts that reached 3,376 and 801 Likes
Date Content Reach
6/9/22 Seeds to give away 1,105
6/4/2022 At the Black Fly Festival 628

Old Business

  • One Tomato Distribution – Donna reviewed the report including the initial survey results for the 650 tomatoes distributed in Piscataquis and Aroostook Counties. 
  • Office Signs – We do have a new door sign that can be easily changed. The large sign by the main road is in the paint shop. It needs to be entirely redone. 
  • Survey on changing meeting times – Beth got no responses, but Rick would like to see a consent agenda. Staff would have to put their reports in the meeting folder before the meetings and members would need to be sure to read the reports before the meeting to be familiar with the agenda items. 

New Business

  • Annual Report – Donna and Laurie have been working on the annual report. The formatting issues will be resolved when the report is finished. We reviewed the committee membership list to be sure it was accurate. Staff asked the committee to review the last draft before it was taken over to the county commissioner’s office with the budget request cover letter and narrative. 
  • 2023 Budget Request Options – Sheila and Donna reviewed the different options for the committee to consider. Option 1 – 3-days a week $734 increase (1%), Option 2 – 3-½-days a week $4,644 increase (5%), Option 3 – 4-days a week $9,901 increase (11%), or Option 4 – 5-days a week $16,374 increase (19%). The four committee members present voted for Option 2. Beth will contact the other three members to get their votes. Beth will work with Laurie to write a cover letter and budget narrative to send to the commissioner’s office. 
  • Potential new members – 
  • Other new business – Sheila reminded folks to go to the link to sign-up for a shift at the Piscataquis Valley Fair 4-H Hall to greet fairgoers. Joe signed up for Saturday afternoon and Kim signed up for Sunday afternoon. Sheila will also reach out to retired executive committee members to fill in some of the shifts. 


Next meeting: Sept. 12th business meeting. – Meeting will be by Zoom and live
We will be meeting every other month (odd months) in 2022 at 3 pm by Zoom and live when possible.