The Somerset Newsflash, April 2022

Important Dates


The News

Somerset County Extension Seeking to Hire Agriculture and Food Systems Professional

We are hiring!

The Agriculture and Food Systems Professional with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension is a full-time, fiscal-year, continuing contract eligible faculty appointment. This position is responsible for implementing educational programs in support of the over 500 commercial farms in the county, including a vibrant maple production industry. This work will often be done in partnership with county-based colleagues and statewide commodity (potato, dairy, vegetable) or subject specialists (water quality, pest management, food safety) within Cooperative Extension. The professional will also respond to the needs of home gardeners and have overall responsibility for the county Master Gardener Volunteer program.

Please help us spread the word about this opportunity! If you know someone who may be interested in this position, please refer them to the position description on the UMaine job site.

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month in Maine

Blacklegged Tick or Deer Tick (adult female)

With warmer weather on its way, Lyme Disease Awareness Month is here again! Health care providers reported 1,508 cases of Lyme disease in 2021 (as of March 25, 2022). The 2022 Lyme Disease Awareness Month theme this May is “Tick Wise.” This reminds us to stop and practice tick prevention measures frequently. The easiest way to avoid tick-borne diseases is preventing tick bites. Please remember to be “Tick Wise” and:

  1. Know tick habitat and use caution in areas where ticks may live.
  2. Wear light-colored clothing that covers arms and legs.
  3. Use an EPA-approved repellent such as: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon
  4. Perform tick checks on yourself, family members, and pets daily and after any outdoor
    activity. Take a shower after exposure to a tick habitat to wash off any crawling ticks.

Infected deer ticks can spread the bacterium that causes Lyme disease when they bite. For
transmission to occur, the deer tick must be attached for 24-48 hours. Use frequent tick checks to find and remove ticks as early as possible.

In Maine, adults over the age of 65 years and children between the ages of 5 and 15 years are at
highest risk of Lyme disease. People that work or play outside are also at high risk of encountering
infected ticks.

If a tick bites you or you spend a lot of time outdoors, make sure to watch for symptoms for up to 30 days after exposure. Also be sure to call a health care provider if symptoms develop. The most common symptom of Lyme disease is a skin rash. This is better known as the “bull’s-eye” rash. The rash usually appears 3-30 days after the tick bite and can show up at the bite site or anywhere else on the body. Other symptoms include fever, headache, and joint or muscle pain. Lyme disease is treatable, and most people recover fully.

Lyme disease is not the only disease that deer ticks in Maine can carry. Anaplasmosis, babesiosis,
Borrelia miyamotoi disease, and Powassan virus disease are other tickborne infections found in
Maine, which saw record cases of anaplasmosis and babesiosis in 2021 and tied the record number
of Powassan virus disease infections statewide.

The deer tick is the only species of tick in Maine that can pass the bacterium that causes Lyme
disease. Still, there are several other species of ticks found across the state. Tick identification is
important, especially when removing ticks. Free tick identification resources can be ordered at the
Maine CDC website. University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick ID Lab also offers tick
identification and testing services.


  • Lyme disease information available at
  • Lyme disease data available through the Maine Tracking Network at under “Maine Tracking Network: Tickborne Diseases” on the left-hand side of the page
  • University of Maine Cooperative Extension Tick ID Lab submission instructions found at
  • For additional questions, please call Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821 or email
  • Tickborne disease videos found at under “Videos” on the left-hand side of the page
  • Tick identification resources and other materials available to order at
  • To continue getting Lyme updates throughout May, follow Maine CDC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

Maine CDC 2022 Lyme Disease Awareness Poster Contest

Each year, Maine CDC hosts an annual Lyme Disease Awareness Month poster contest for K-8th graders in Maine. The topic of this year’s contest is “Tick Wise,” reminding everyone to be “tick wise” and take steps to prevent tick borne diseases, including Lyme disease. The contest rules and release waiver can be found on the Lyme Disease Poster Contest webpage.

Posters will be accepted through Friday, April 29. Winners in each category receive a one-day park pass to any Maine State Park for their family and tick removal kits for their classroom or group. One grand prize-winning poster will be chosen to feature as the 2022 Lyme Disease Awareness poster for Maine CDC.

Apply to be a Master Food Preserver

Applications now available; due May 6th

Do you enjoy the art and science of food preservation? Would you like to develop expertise in food preservation? Consider becoming a Master Food Preserver. Visit the Master Food Preserver page to learn more and apply.

UMaine Extension Landscape Design Webinar

University of Maine Cooperative Extension will offer a webinar for home gardeners about designing welcoming landscapes, noon–1:15 p.m. April 29

Designing Welcoming Landscapes” will provide an overview of questions and considerations when evaluating a garden space, with specific examples of ways to make landscapes more fun, comfortable and safe for all ages. Clair Ackroyd, garden designer and author, leads the workshop.

Registration is required; a sliding scale fee is optional. Register on the Designing Welcoming Landscapes webpage to attend live or receive the recording link. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Pamela Hargest, 207.781.6099;

Dean Hannah Carter Pens Op-ed for BDN About Volunteering

Hannah Carter, dean of University of Maine Cooperative Extension, wrote an opinion column for the Bangor Daily News about the value of volunteering. “April is also National Volunteer Month, a time for us to celebrate the thousands of people across the state who give selflessly of their time and talent. Volunteers are the heart of our organization. Without them, UMaine Extension could not fulfill its mission to bring practical, research-based information from the state’s research university to the people of Maine — work that enriches lives and strengthens communities,” Carter wrote.

Maine Public Interviews Mallory About the Grain Economy in Maine

Ellen Mallory, University of Maine Cooperative Extension professor and a professor in the School of Food and Agriculture, was interviewed by Maine Public for a story about Maine’s growing grain economy. “People really like the idea of eating local. If you develop a local grain economy, with relationships between farmers and processors, then you can stabilize prices and provide some predictability for farmers in terms of a price and in terms of volume [that they can sell],” said Mallory, who is on the board of Maine Grain Alliance and works with farmers to help them meet the new economic opportunities with grain production.

Helpful Gardening Resources

CarrotsWe want to remind you that Cooperative Extension offers all kinds of helpful resources for Maine gardeners. If you have a garden, you may want to check out some of these:

  • On Demand Webinars: Bundles of three to four prerecorded webinars about starting and maintaining a home orchard, gardening with native plants, composting and soil health, and seed selection and starting. The webinars allow viewers to watch and learn at their own pace and include lists of recommended resources. The webinar bundles are offered on a sliding scale fee of $0–$30. More information about how to purchase the bundles is available on the gardening webpage. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation, contact Rebecca Long, 207.743.6329;
  • Growing Maine Gardeners: An initiative led by UMaine Extension’s Home Horticulture team to address the increased demand for gardening education throughout the state of Maine and to provide additional support for beginner gardeners.
  • Garden Mentorship Program: direct technical assistance and encouragement via phone or email throughout the season from trained Master Gardener Volunteers.
  • Maine Farm Products and Pick-Up Directory: The directory provides information on available local farm products and alternative pick-up options developed by farmers statewide to accommodate the recommended social distancing in light of COVID-19.
  • Identifying insect pests: Charley Armstrong, will identify pest samples via images. See instructions for submitting an insect specimen.
  • Identifying plant diseases: Dr. Alicyn Smart will identify plant disease samples via images. See instructions for submitting a sample.
  • Tick testing: Ticks are being tested on a limited basis. See instructions for submitting a tick sample.
  • Publication orders: We are still processing orders from our publication catalog, including pesticide application training materials.
  • Soil testing: The Analytical Lab and Maine Soil Testing Service remains open and is taking samples with a priority on commercial samples. If you need to drop off a sample, you can place it in the box outside of Deering Hall; do NOT enter the building.
  • General gardening questions: Contact your county office. Emails are preferred. If it’s necessary to leave a voicemail, please leave your email address (if available) or a mailing address in addition to your phone number.

Greenhouse Plastic Recycling Program Opens April 19

University of Maine Cooperative Extension expects to open its Greenhouse Plastic Recycling (GPR) program April 19 with drop-off sites available statewide through November 21. 

Plastic eligible for recycling is clear, low-density polyethylene #4 (LDPE #4) used to cover greenhouses, high tunnels, hoop houses and other agricultural structures. The program will also accept white overwintering plastic bundled separately from clear plastic. UMaine Extension’s GPR program video explains the process in full.

This will be the third year for the recycling program, begun in 2020 with a one-year Maine Department of Environmental Protection Waste Diversion grant. The program’s goal is to collect at least one-third of Maine’s annual waste greenhouse plastic, diverting that waste for use in new plastic products. To date, the program has collected almost 2,600 pounds of this plastic waste.

There is no program fee; registration is required. Register and find more information on the GPR program website. More information also is available by contacting Matt Wallhead, 207.581.2949;

The News in Agriculture

PFAS Farmer Wellness Fund

The PFAS Farmer Wellness Fund is intended to holistically support farmers and farm workers impacted by PFAS contamination and is being jointly administered by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA), Maine Farmland Trust (MFT), and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension (UMCE) and is funded by the Farmer and Rancher Stress Assistance Network.

As farmers wellness is broadly defined, there is a wide range of eligible uses for this fund including therapy, childcare, acupuncture, gift cards to purchase uncontaminated food and/or water, massage, traditional healers, and other supports that would help reduce stress at this time.


  • All commercial farms. A farm does not need to have confirmed high PFAS test results though those farms and farm workers will be prioritized
  • Farm workers based on a farm affected by PFAS
  • Indigenous food and medicine growers providing for community

We cannot pay the applicant directly for or reimburse any expenses, and will instead directly pay for any services or products you have requested. Please take care to verify the contact information for payment for the service or product before submission.

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Update

Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, Extension Veterinarian and Director of the UMaine Veterinary Diagnostic Lab has just completed an update to Bulletin #2109 Avian Influenza and Backyard Poultry.
Avian Influenza (AI) is a contagious type A influenza (“flu”) virus of birds that occurs worldwide and is not uncommon in wild birds of many types.
As a flu virus, AI replicates in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts, so it is spread via respiratory droplets, saliva, mucus, and manure. It may also be capable of airborne spread if conditions allow (for instance, when very high amounts of virus are being produced). Contaminated surfaces, feed, water, environments, and items such as tools or workers’ boots can also spread the disease. Influenza viruses can survive for extended periods of time in cool, moist environments like wet bedding, manure, and mud. Regular sanitation and disinfection practices can help prevent spread of AI via this route.
As a small flock owner, how would I know if my birds have Avian Influenza?
  • AI is something to keep in mind, should you notice respiratory disease in birds, but it’s not the only cause of respiratory symptoms or diarrhea in birds. There are several forms of influenza (AI) that can affect poultry: relatively non-pathogenic (low path AI; LPAI) and the more dangerous form (high path AI; HPAI). If you see severe illness and sudden death losses in your flock, you should call the regional USDA hotline: 866.536.7593, and also let your farm vet know. If your flock is experiencing losses, but you doubt that they are due to HPAI, then you should have a necropsy conducted; the University of Maine Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory can assist farmers in our region. As well, now is a great time to review your poultry management to ensure the safety of your birds; we call this biosecurity.
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry HPAI Situation Report
Current Situation:
  • USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the presence of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in samples taken from nine small flocks of non-commercial backyard birds (non-poultry). APHIS website.
  • Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) placed the properties under quarantine, and humane depopulation efforts have been completed.
  • DACF has implemented additional safety measures, including monitoring properties with domestic flocks within a 10 km radius and notifying bird owners of the importance of proactive safety measures to help prevent disease.
  • The risk for HPAI remains high, and backyard flock and commercial operators are advised to keep birds indoors to prevent the spread of this disease.
HPAI Common Questions
  • Q: How long do we have to keep our birds inside?
    • A: As long as the disease transmission risk is high. Please reference the Maine DACF Animal Health website for up-to-date information.
  • Q: What are the signs of HPAI in birds?
    • A: Sudden death without clinical signs; Lack of energy and appetite; Decreased egg production or soft-shelled or misshapen eggs; Swelling of the head, comb, eyelid, wattles, and hocks; Purple discoloration of wattles, comb, and legs; Nasal discharge, coughing, and sneezing; Incoordination; or Diarrhea. Learn more.
  • Q: How do I protect my flock from HPAI?
    • A: The best approach is to practice good biosecurity – this means keeping your birds separate from sources of disease, such as infected wild birds and their environment.
  • Q: What should I do if I have sick birds or large mortality in my flock?
    • A: Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.
  • Q: Can people contract AI?
    • A: No cases of this particular strain of the avian influenza virus have been detected in humans in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recent detections of this strain of influenza in birds in Maine and several other states present a low risk to the public.
  • Q: Does HPAI present a food safety risk?
    • A: No, poultry and eggs are safe to eat when handled and cooked properly.
  • Q: Is compensation offered to impacted flock owners?
Additional Resources
According to the USDA, all bird owners, whether commercial producers or backyard enthusiasts, should:
  • Practice protective security measures to help prevent disease
  • Prevent contact between their birds and wild birds, and
  • Report sick birds or unusual bird deaths to State/Federal officials, either through your state veterinarian or through USDA’s toll-free number at 1-866-536-7593.
For backyard and commercial poultry producers:
For more information contact Jim Britt at:

Would you like to sign up for Open Farm Day?

Now is the time! Maine’s annual Open Farm Day happens the fourth Sunday in July (July 24 this year). There is no fee to join promotions, but you must opt in via Real Maine.

The sign up steps differ for those with who currently have a listing, and those who don’t. Please, start here:

Value-Added Producer Grant Open Now

The Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Notice of Solicitation of Applications (NOSA) was published on March 1, 2022.

Here are just a few highlights:

  • Applicants must be an Agricultural Producer
  • There are two types of grants: Planning with a maximum award amount of $75,000 and Working Capital with a maximum award amount of $250,000
  • There is approximately $19.75 million available in program funding.

For more information and to apply, visit the Value-Added Producer Grant webpage. Electronic applications that are submitted through are due on April 25, 2022.

UMaine Team Ranked Third in 2022 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge reported that a team of four animal and veterinary sciences students from the University of Maine ranked third among six teams at the 2022 North American Intercollegiate Dairy Challenge this month. The Dairy Challenge contest is a three-day event when dairy students tour and evaluate a dairy farm based on production, health, breeding, financial data and the business’ short- and long-term goals. This was the first time in two years that dairy students were able to compete in the national Dairy Challenge, held this year in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Dairy Farm Labor Survey

Would you take a few minutes to give your input on the labor needs of Maine’s dairy industry, as it looks on your farm? You must be 18 years old or older to participate in this anonymous survey that will take 15 minutes or less.

To learn more and to take the survey, visit the Dairy Farm Labor Survey form.

Beginning Farmer Training Needs Survey

If you have been farming for under 10 years, UMaine Extension needs YOUR input! UMaine Cooperative Extension: Equipping New Farmers with Practical Skills and Knowledge is a newly funded project to help new and developing farmers get trained in agriculture. We are asking for your help in identifying the skills and knowledge needs that you have.

To learn more and to take the survey, visit the Beginning Farmer Training Needs Survey form.

The News in 4-H

Maine 4-H Dairy Judging Tryouts Scheduled for April

The 2022 Maine 4-H Dairy Judging Contest will be held on April 23 at Juniper Farms in Gray, ME and Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, ME. The event is open to all enrolled 4-H dairy members and will serve as the official tryouts for the 2022 Maine 4-H Eastern States Dairy Judging Team. Visit the Dairy Judging Contest webpage for a complete schedule, contest rules, and directions to the farms. For more information or to request a reasonable accommodation please contact Sadee Mahuren at or 207.342.5971.

Animal Approval Forms

Don’t forget to submit your animal approval forms (pdf) to your county office. These forms must be submitted by the deadline for your commodity to participate in 4-H shows or other events this summer. If you think you might be interested in going to the Big E this fall, put in your animal approval form by the deadline!

  • ESE Dairy: May 1
  • ESE Horse: May 1
  • Working Steer: May 1
  • Market Lambs: June 1
  • All other sheep classes: June 30
  • All other commodities: June 30

The Maine App Challenge

Love technology? Here is a chance to put your passion to a purpose and win a scholarship along the way! The Maine App Challenge is an incredible opportunity for Maine middle school and high school students who are 13 years of age and older to create a mobile application with a chance to win a scholarship and other valuable rewards. A series of innovation workshops from the University of Maine Foster Center for Innovation will help you get started! There are three scholarships available for the top mobile apps: $6,000 for first place, $3,000 for second place, and $1,000 for third place.

Other awards include $500 to the high school with the highest participation, tablets to the first 50 completed submissions, a guaranteed internship interview for the top 10 submissions following his/her college sophomore year. Visit the Tyler Technology Maine App Challenge website for more information.

The News in Homemakers

Spring Newsletter Published

Head on over to the Homemakers Newsletter page to check out the latest issue of the Maine Extension Homemakers Newsletter.

Enjoy Some Summer Time Fun at the MEHC State Spring Meeting!

At long last, the Maine Extension Homemakers Council will hold a Spring Meeting on May 21, 2022, in Bangor. Registration packets have already been sent to all County Club Presidents and are also available at each County Extension office by asking the support staff for a copy. This meeting will be the first state-wide gathering of the Extension Homemakers in more than two years. The theme is “Summertime Fun” so members are encouraged to come in their comfortable summertime clothes!

Help Us Collect Can Tabs

Can Tabs

All Somerset County Homemakers Clubs are collecting can tabs to be recycled for cash that will be donated to the Ronald McDonald house. Anyone is welcome to contribute to the effort and can tabs can be donated by contacting any of the Extension Homemakers or by dropping them off at the Somerset County Extension office.

Volunteer in Somerset County!

Would you or someone you know like to become more engaged in volunteerism throughout Somerset County? Consider joining Homemakers! The Somerset County Extension Homemakers are always welcoming new members. Please visit the Maine Extension Homemakers website for general information about the program or reach out to the Somerset County Extension Homemakers President, Rita Fortin with any questions or to express interest. Rita can be reached at 207.453.2945 or at You may also contact the Maine Extension Homemakers Coordinator, Lisa Fishman at 800.287.1421 or at

The News in the County

EFNEP in April

Plastic cups with seedlings growingEFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) had a busy month in April! EFNEP CEA Alice Cantrell has been working with local schoolchildren and adults teaching a variety of programming about nutrition and gardening:

  • Three different schools participated in the MyGarden MyPlate nutrition and gardening series. Bloomfield Elementary School 3rd graders, Skowhegan Area School Afterschool program, and Forest Hills Consolidated School 4th graders all participated in growing plants from seed and learned about nutrition as they observed a crucial step in the food production process (growing their own!).
  • The Skowhegan Area Middle School participated in the Kids in the Kitchen series which focuses on cooking skills and food safety that coincide with making healthy lifestyle choices.
  • The El Rancho De La Vida Addiction Treatment Center finished up the 10 Steps to a Healthier You series, which went over cooking, food safety, food resource management, meal planning, mindfulness, and getting more movement in the day. Alice will be returning in May and starting a new series called Eating Smart Being Active.