The Somerset Newsflash, January 2022

Upcoming Events and Timely Bulletins for Somerset County

Important Dates



The New Newsflash

This looks different!

There have been a lot of changes in our office recently. You may have noticed that we have not sent out a newsletter in a few months. Well, this new year is bringing a new newsletter from a new staff team (who you can read about in the next article). The Newsflash can now be found right here on our website and readers will be able to access an archive to view past issues. Subscribers will receive an email that will include news highlights as well as links to the online articles.

We hope you find this newsletter helpful and informative and encourage you to reach out with any requests or suggestions!

The New Staff Team

Somerset County Extension Staff 2022
Clockwise from top right: Karen Giles, Christine Gettig, Alice Cantrell, Emily Collins

We have some new faces around! We are currently a team of four and three of us have started within the past year. We are all happy to be here and excited to learn all about the Somerset County community. We plan to continue to facilitate meaningful programs for the public and are looking forward to starting some new ones.

We would love to hear from you, so please feel free to contact us at any time! Our phone number is 207.474.9622 and you can find our individual email addresses in our profiles below.

Learn more about the team:

Karen Giles, 4-H Youth Development Professional
Started October 2021,
Karen GilesKaren is the 4-H Professional in the Somerset County office. She grew up in Maine working with horses her entire life, first in 4-H and Pony Club, and then as a nationally certified regular and therapeutic riding instructor. She has a BA in Art, with minors in Business Administration and Small Business Management, as well as an AA in Commercial Illustration. She published a children’s book that she wrote and illustrated, and is working on several more. She was previously the Executive Director of the Robotics Institute of Maine and has been the lead mentor of a high school robotics team for the past ten years. She also worked for Maine Farmland Trust in Belfast as their Art Gallery Coordinator. She has a son who recently graduated from UMaine with a degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology and owns three horses.

Alice Cantrell, Community Education Assistant (EFNEP)
Started March 2018,
Alice CantrellAlice is the EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Program) CEA for Somerset county and virtually for Franklin county. She has been in this role for almost 3 years. One of her favorite parts of her job is introducing new foods to kids and even adults while sharing recipes to add those new foods to. She lives in Clinton with her husband and their cat. Some of her favorite hobbies are gardening, cooking, creating art, hiking, and rockhounding. She also has a background in culinary arts and is working towards a BA in graphic design and media arts.

Christine Gettig, Administrative Specialist
Started January 2021,
Christine GettigChristine has lived in Maine her whole life and loves it. She has a wonderful son, 2 dogs, and 5 cats. She has worked in education for the better part of her career. She enjoyed working for MSAD 59 as an administrative assistant to the special education and adult education department. She also worked at Maine General in Augusta doing patient registration, a job she also loved. She is a people person and enjoys interacting with people and doing what she can to assist in any way needed. Her greatest joy is wandering through fields and woods with her dogs.

Emily Collins, Administrative Specialist
Started November 2021,
Emily CollinsEmily grew up on a small farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology, a Master’s degree in Environmental Education, and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management. She loves that Cooperative Extension is the perfect place to combine her experience in youth development with her newest interests in nutrition and agriculture. She is excited to learn more about these fields as she works in support of Somerset County. Her favorite things to do in her free time include traveling, camping, crafting, and cooking and she is always up for an adventure!

The News in Agriculture

Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program

The Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry (DACF) has allocated approximately $20MM in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for the new Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program (AIIP).

  • AIIP application period will open on January 14, 2022
  • AIIP application deadline is 11:59 PM EST on February 25, 2022

The AIIP will provide critical funding for Maine farms and agricultural food processors pursuing infrastructure upgrades that will:

  1. mitigate the adverse effects of COVID-19,
  2. increase capacity, enhance supply chain resilience, address market disruptions, and
  3. drive growth within the Maine agricultural and food economy while providing more locally available foods to Mainers. 

The Department has partnered with Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) to serve as Third-Party Administrator for the program.

Sign up for updates on the program on the Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program Notification page (Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry).

Download the draft version of the Application for the Agricultural Infrastructure Investment Program (PDF).

New Extension Soil Health Short Course

This 5-week online course is designed for farmers who want to improve their understanding of soil health science, principles, and practical management strategies. Agricultural advisors also are welcome.

Each week, course participants will complete 2-3 hours of assigned ‘homework’ independently (watch videos, read articles, explore online tools) and then take part in a 1.5-hour online session on Wednesdays from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. The program starts the week of February 14 and ends on March 25.

Course topics include soil biology and soil organic matter, physical and chemical properties of soil health, soil health strategies and practices, cover cropping, reduced tillage practices, crop rotation, soil amendments, soil health testing, and making a soil health plan.

Register early because spots are limited! The course fee is on a sliding scale ($120/$90/$60) and includes one free soil health test ($60 value) for those who complete the course and provide feedback. The deadline to register is February 6.

For more information, including how to register, visit the Soil Health Course page.

Upcoming Webinars

Hydroponics for Home Gardeners, January 24, 6-7:15 p.m.
This webinar will explain how to build a working hydroponic system for year-round indoor gardening with a few simple tools and materials. Jonathan Ebba, UNH Extension field specialist, will lead the workshop. Registration is required (click workshop name to register); a sliding scale program fee is optional.  

Winter Care of Equines, February 1, 2 p.m.
Workshop topics include winter health issues and options for freshwater, as well as mud management around the farmstead. Donna Coffin, UMaine Extension professor, and Dr. Beth McAvoy, consulting veterinarian and chief financial officer of Foxcroft Large Animal Veterinary Associates in Dover-Foxcroft, will lead the workshop. Registration is required (click workshop name to register); a sliding scale program fee is optional.

Extending the Gardening Season in New England, February 7, 6–7:15 p.m.
This webinar includes season-extension strategies ranging from targeted use of mulches and row covers to the use of small high tunnels, with in-depth guidance for how to build and implement these tools in home gardens. Frank Wertheim, UMaine Extension educator, and Becky Sideman, UNH Extension sustainable horticulture specialist, will lead the workshop. Registration is required (click workshop name to register); a sliding scale program fee is optional. 

Advanced Beekeeping: Honey Bee Diseases and Pests, February 10 and 17, 6–8:30 p.m.
This two-session class will cover the major pest and disease threats to honey bee colonies and their management. Focusing on non-chemical and IPM strategies, students will learn the best management practices for all of the major threats to colony health in Maine. The webinar will be taught by EAS-certified master beekeeper Erin MacGregor Forbes. The $50 fee includes the required textbook. Registration is required (click workshop name to register). 

Advanced Beekeeping: Swarming and Swarm Management, March 3 and 10, 6–8:30 p.m.
This five-hour class will cover swarming in depth. We will discuss the different types of swarms, swarm biology and behavior, and how to manage the swarming impulses in your colonies. We will also cover swarm trap building and use, swarm management and prevention, and swarm collecting. This class focuses on understanding the natural causes and benefits of swarming and encourages participants to embrace and utilize the natural reproductive instincts of colonies to improve colony health and apiary success. The webinar will be taught by EAS-certified master beekeeper Erin MacGregor Forbes. The fee is $35. Registration is required (click workshop name to register).

The News in 4-H

Public Speaking

The 2022 Regional Public Speaking Contest will be taking place this year at UMA’s Jewett Hall on Augusta on March 5th.  We are optimistic that this event will be held in person but want to keep flexibility in mind. The event will start at 10:00 a.m. and will run to approximately 3:00 p.m.

We welcome any 4-H member who wishes to join us- from anywhere in Maine!  This event will also be a qualifying event for the State Public Speaking Contest in April. 

If you have questions please reach out! To participate, please complete the registration form by February 18.

Maine 4-H ESE Intent Forms Due February 1

The 2022 Maine 4-H Eastern States intent to participate forms are available online for goat, dairy, and beef. In order to be eligible for participation this fall, 4-H members must complete the online intent form or mail a hard copy of the intent form to the Waldo County Cooperative Extension office before February 1, 2022. Please contact Sadee Mehuren at or 207.342.5971 with any questions.

New Maine 4-H Virtual Learning Hub

Maine 4-H Virtual Learning is a hands-on, virtual learning program for youth ages 5-18. Workshops will be organized by age and topic. Topics include engineering, science, animals and agriculture, teen leadership, and more.

Workshops will range from single-time events to short-term programs (typically four to six sessions). Participants will engage in hands-on activities and interact with other 4-Hers and positive adult role models.

No prior experience with 4-H is required to participate. If you are interested in learning more about 4-H, this is a great opportunity to become familiar with the program!

Read what 4-H Parents, Youth, and Teachers have to say about these 4-H Virtual Learning offerings: Visit the 4-H Parents, Youth, Teachers: Stories and Testimonials page.

For more information about 4-H, please contact Karen Giles at

The News in Homemakers

2021 Annual Reports Are Due Soon

Club Annual Reports must be compiled and submitted to your County President by March 15.

County Presidents, please take your County Report to the Extension office.  Send one copy to Angela Martin, maintain one copy of the report in the Extension office, and keep one copy for your own records, by March 31.

Lisa will work with MEHC President Bea LaPlante to compile a state-wide Annual Report by April 30.

Officers Needed

The State Advisory Board of the Maine Extension Homemakers Council is seeking nominations for leadership positions in 2022.

If you have ever considered holding an officer position on the MEHC Board, this is the perfect time to make that dream a reality. The MEHC Board will need to replace its President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer in 2022, which means we need YOU. Your County President and your County Advisor have application forms for you to fill out upon request.

The News in the County

An EFNEP Update

A variety of homemade baked good mixes in jarsUniversity of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) delivers interactive food and nutrition education to income-eligible parents, caregivers, young adults, teens, and children.

Alice, our EFNEP Community Education Assistant, has been busy leading a number of nutrition programs in the community. Recently, she led the first session of a series called CREATE MyPlate for the Groovy Go-Getters 4-H club. During this first class, they talked about MyPlate, fruits, and vegetables, and made different kinds of smoothies.

Earlier this month, she led a class called Gifts from the Kitchen for the Solon Pine Tree 4-H club. The youth learned how to make their own mix in a jar and decorate them to give as gifts. Most of this group planned to try out the gingerbread recipe themselves and then refill the jar to display in fairs this summer.

4-H members with homemade baked good mixes in jars

EFNEP is a free program — find out if you are eligible today! You can participate in EFNEP through individual and group lessons in homes or community sites including schools. For more information, email