Staff Biographies

Rick Kersbergen, Extension Educator, Sustainable Dairy and Forage Systems

Rick has been an Extension Educator in the UMaine Extension Waldo County office working on agriculture and home horticulture issues since 1987. Most recently, Rick has taken on some state-wide responsibilities in conjunction with his research on organic dairy farming systems in the Northeast, and serves as the sustainable dairy and forage systems educator for the state. He is currently finishing several research projects in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, the USDA ARS New England Plant Soil and Water Lab (where he is a cooperating research scientist) and the Maine Organic Milk Producers (USDA IOP “Reducing Off-Farm Grain Inputs on Organic Dairy Farms in the Northeast; NESARE “Expanding Grain Production and Use on Organic Dairy Farms in Maine and Vermont”). Rick is the PI on a project with the University of Vermont on “Reducing Fuel and Fertilizer with No-till Corn and Cover Crops” and is conducting this research on several farms in Waldo and Somerset counties. Rick is also a participant in a $1.4 million project involving organic bread wheat production, and recently returned form a week in Denmark researching wheat production and milling in Europe.

In January 2007, he was awarded the Northeast Extension Directors Award of Excellence for his work with organic dairy farms in Maine and New England and is the 2009 recipient of the 2009 Extension-Industry Award for the Northeast Branch of American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America and Soil Science Society of America. Rick has recently served as the chair of the Northeast Pasture Consortium and the Northeast SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education) Professional Development Program coordinator for Maine. Rick is the vice president of the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society, (MESAS) and serves on the state Nutrient Management Board. Rick loves to ski and helps to coach the Maine Central Institute ski team. Rick, his two sons and his wife Linda also sell cut flowers and mixed vegetables at the Unity Farmers Market on Saturday mornings.

Rick has a BA degree from Bates College in Lewiston and a Masters degree in Animal Science from the University of Maine. Prior to working for Cooperative Extension, he managed the University livestock facility in Orono and taught undergraduate classes in animal nutrition.

The Sustainable Agriculture program in Waldo County is broad, covering topics from animal nutrition and performance to tractor safety and pesticide education. Hundreds of homeowners call each season with questions about pests and cultural garden questions. Rick was instrumental in the nutrient management project that developed whole farm nutrient plans for dairy farms throughout the state. He also works collaboratively with MOFGA and Waldo County SWCD on many projects geared toward today’s small farmers. Rick helps with the Master Gardener program and teaches several classes, including soils, botany and season extension.

Rick also facilitates the county budget process and works with the county commissioners and county budget committee.

Parent Education Professionals

The Maine Families program in Waldo County are responsible for working with parents expecting a baby, beginning prenatally (as soon as the pregnancy is known) and continuing until the child is 5 years old. The two primary objectives are to improve school readiness of Waldo County children and to increase the level of family functioning.

The professionals work on a one-to-one basis with families, individualizing the curriculum to meet the needs of the family. The program is open to any first time parent interested in learning more about child guidance, regardless of age, income or other criteria. The Maine Families professionals teach fetal development, prenatal nutrition, preparing for the baby, birth education, infant feeding (breast or bottle), child development, parenting skills, coping skills including stress management, discipline techniques, child health/wellness, the need for developmental play, the importance of reading to infants and young children and other related subjects. They screen each child on or near each birthday to determine if the development of the child is on target for the age in language, gross motor, small motor, and cognitive skills; any child exhibiting a delay is referred for professional assessment and treatment. Periodic group classes are offered in the areas of first aid and parenting, as well as activities to enhance literacy interests.

The Maine Families program operates within a group of professionals devoted to the betterment of children below school age, such as the hospital obstetrical unit, public health nursing, social workers, midwives, physicians, family mental health workers, Case Management Services, Child Development Services, WIC, Head Start, etc. Every family enrolled in Maine Families minimally has the services of a physician, a public health nurse, and a Maine Families professional; this helps to ensure that the child gets off to a good start; other services are provided when appropriate.

Wesley Neff, Parent Education Professional

Wesley Neff is a 1975 graduate of the University Maine in Orono with a BA in Psychology. She has over 30 years of experience working with children and families in a direct service capacity as well as an administrator of programs that support family strengths and healthy growth. She has been a licensed social worker since 1989. Wesley began her career providing social work services to children with developmental disabilities and their families. She has worked in both residential settings and outreach programs. In addition to providing direct social work services, Wesley has developed and managed a variety of programs including behavioral health and day habilitation programs, therapeutic recreation programs, outreach social work and case management, transitional living housing for homeless pregnant and parenting adolescent women, home-based developmental therapy programs and home visiting. Currently Wesley manages the Maine Families home visiting program here in Waldo County and provides direct home visiting services to participating families.

Diane Russell, Parent Education Professional

Diane is a Camden native, now living in Hampden with her husband Mark. They have an adult son, Justin, who lives and works in Bangor. She holds a BA degree from the University of Maine in psychology, has credits toward a MS degree in infant mental health, and is nationally certified as a Parents As Teachers parent educator. She was a child protective worker and a preschool teacher before becoming a home visiting parent education professional in the Maine Families, (formerly Parents are Teachers Too), program in 1990. She’s worked as a home visitor with the Maine Families since 1990 and feels very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with many Waldo County parents and their children and also to have such supportive coworkers.

4-H Aide

Joyce Weaver, Program Aide II (4-H)

Joyce joined the Waldo County staff in 2000 after being a 4-H volunteer since 1990. She lives with her family in Winterport. She provides direct support to adults and older youth who are currently enrolled as 4-H Volunteers or interested in becoming new certified enrolled 4-H Volunteers. The Waldo County 4-H Program supports traditional community 4-H clubs and 4-H After-School Program partnerships. Through the after school venue, more Waldo County youth are able to experience high quality programs and 4-H opportunities. Joyce feels it is a privilege to work for an organization that values education and empowers volunteers and Maine families to invest time helping themselves, their communities and guiding youth into caring community citizens and leaders. Joyce’s responsibilities include recruiting new 4-H members and leaders, supporting 4-H leaders with training, planning and conducting youth development activities and organizing a monthly 4-H newsletter.

Support Staff

There are two support staff in the Waldo County Extension office. They have some individualized tasks they perform, but, in general, they provide support for all the staff persons with educational roles. They also have reception responsibilities to people phoning or visiting the office. They do word processing, data entry, desk-top publishing to produce bulletins and newsletters, order publications, keep track of budgets and have a wide variety of other responsibilities that keep the office operating on a daily basis.

Billiejo Pendleton, Administrative Specialist II

Billiejo has been with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in the Waldo County office since 2008, starting out part time and now full time since 2019. She supports the needs of the Extension educators, the 4-H program, and clients.

Billiejo was born and raised here in Waldo County for 32 years and has two children. She enjoys raising chickens and gardening.

Yadina Clark, Administrative Specialist II

Yadina has been with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Waldo County office part time since 2019. She supports Extension staff, clients, and program needs.

Yadina lives in Belfast and enjoys gardening and designing labyrinth installations. In 2012, she proposed and co-founded the Terrell House Permaculture Living & Learning Center, a University of Maine sustainability initiative in Orono.