Bath Middle School Takes Hands-on Approach to Learning About Ocean Sustainability

Inspired by the Expeditionary Learning model, Bath Middle School has taken a hands-on approach to examining the issue of ocean sustainability.  As part of this project, as citizen scientists, the 7th-grade students took to the local waterfront to collect data on the invasive green crab species and graphed their results.

Students also visited the Maine Maritime Museum in downtown Bath to learn about the history of Maine’s fishing and shipping industry.  Working with Museum educators, they generated timelines through the examination of the museum’s artifacts.

The culminating activity was for students to design and build a product that would address an issue that threatens the sustainability of our oceans such as pollution, climate change, or invasive species.  On Thursday, December 16th, parents, and the community were invited to attend an event that displayed the students’ work.

parents at event

In a “Shark Tank” format, the top five projects were pitched to a panel of judges to determine a winning product.  Students created videos, websites, and prototypes to convince the judges of their product’s ability to impact and help solve an issue that puts the sustainability of our oceans at risk.

After much deliberation, the judges determined that the winning product was Compostable Condiments designed by Sadie C. and Laura K.  This product proposed using an invasive seaweed to make a biodegradable substitute for the plastic used in takeout packets like ketchup.

Congratulations to all the 7th graders for their innovative ideas that could help to preserve one of Maine’s most essential natural resources.

This story was written and coordinated by MLTI Ambassador Holly Graffam as part of the Maine Schools Sharing the Success Campaign. To learn more, or to submit a story or an idea for a story, email rachel.paling@maine.gov. 

Maine FFA Members Convene for Fall Workshop

Over 100 middle and secondary student members of the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) met at the University of Maine in Presque Isle on November 19, 2021 for a workshop on leadership skills and FFA opportunities.

The FFA is available to students grades 7 to 12 at schools featuring an agriculture or natural resources class/program that has chartered an FFA chapter.  As the largest student-run organization in the United States, with over 750,000 members, the FFA relies on its student officers to conduct activities and trainings.

The November 19th workshop was no exception, as the three State FFA Officers, Nickie Deschaine, President; Delaney McKeen, Vice President; and Ryder Brewer, Secretary-Treasurer, presented sessions that they themselves had developed to FFA students from Ashland High School, Ashland Middle School, Easton Junior/Senior High School, Central Aroostook High School, Central Aroostook Junior High School, Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center, and Washburn High School.

Workshop topics included:  “What is FFA?” “Qualities of Leadership,” “Balancing Life” and “Opportunities in FFA.”  FFA-cited opportunities included travel, competitions, awards, scholarships and a number of specific events available to members. Workshop participants left with information and resources to take the best advantage of their school years and their FFA experiences. 

For more information on FFA and on starting an FFA chapter, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, Maine Department of Education, 207-624-6744, doug.robertson@maine.gov

Maine FFA Delegates Return to the National Convention

Maine FFA (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) sent States Officers, President Nickie Deschaine and Secretary-Treasurer Ryder Brewer, to participate as delegates to the 94th National FFA Convention & Expo on October 25-30, 2021 in Indianapolis.

Last year’s National Convention was held as a virtual-only event due to COVID-19.  Maine FFA State Advisor from the Maine Department of Education, Doug Robertson, accompanied the delegates who are both currently juniors at Central Aroostook High School in Mars Hill.

This year’s convention was attended by over 60,000 FFA student members, guests and advisors. Delegates participated in committees tasked with charting the future course of the organization, with each committee coming to consensus on recommendations to present to the entire delegate body for a vote.

During their time in Indianapolis, Maine’s delegates met other delegates from the rest of the United States, attended inspirational Convention sessions and toured the Expo that featured representatives from the agriculture and natural resources industry, as well as a number of colleges and universities.  Special in-person speakers included Courtenay DeHoff, “Fancy Lady Cowgirl,” Joe Hogsett, Mayor of Indianapolis, and the National FFA Officers.  Video welcomes were provided by Vice President Kamala Harris; Miguel Cardona, U.S. Secretary of Education; and Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

As well as gaining committee experience, making new friends, and exploring Indianapolis, Maine’s delegates had the chance to attend the “World’s Toughest Rodeo,” held in the coliseum on the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  State FFA President Nickie Deschaine observed that her travel to Indianapolis represented the furthest west she had yet been.  She also commented:  “Words truly cannot describe the overwhelmingly amazing feeling of seeing all the blue jackets filled by people who are just as passionate about FFA as I am!”

Delegates returned to Maine with many new ideas on how to best serve their 400-500 Maine FFA members.  Maine FFA serves students grades 7-12 who are enrolled in classes/programs related to agriculture and natural resources.  Schools with gardens and greenhouses may qualify to establish chapters.

For more information on how to initiate a Maine FFA chapter, please contact:  Doug Robertson, Maine FFA State Advisor, Maine Department of Education, (207) 624-6744, doug.robertson@maine.gov.

Maine FFA Student Leaders Learn New Skills at Presque Isle Workshop

Twenty-five Chapter Officers of the Maine FFA Association (formerly known as “Future Farmers of America”) gathered on October 22, 2021 at the University of Maine at Presque Isle to learn more about leading their local chapters. FFA is a national organization for agriculture and natural resources students grades 7-12, with affiliated chapters in all fifty states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Presque Isle’s workshop participants came from five different Aroostook County FFA chapters: Ashland High School, Central Aroostook High School (Mars Hill), Easton High School, Presque Isle Regional Career & Technical Center, and Washburn High School.

Leading the workshop were State FFA President Nickie Deschaine, State FFA Vice President Delaney McKeen, and State FFA Secretary-Treasurer Ryder Brewer. Participating Chapter Officers learned Leadership, Teamwork, and developing imaginative, worthwhile activities for their local chapters despite challenges associated with COVID-19. Students got a chance to know each other, to share ideas, and to participate in brainstorming and fun activities.

Follow-up activities for the year will include agricultural and community projects at the local level, a subsequent workshop for FFA members, and a State FFA Convention with competitions and awards.

For more information on starting an FFA chapter to access student agriculture/natural resources opportunities related to leadership events, travel, community, competition and scholarships, please contact the Maine FFA State Advisor in the Maine Department of Education, Doug Robertson, doug.robertson@maine.gov 207-624-6744

Middle School Student Resources on Agriculture and Environmental Sustainability

The Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council has provided a new “Fuel Up to Play 60 Learning Plan” which offers classroom lessons to help middle school students discover more about staying active and healthy, being mindful, and pitching in to the make the planet greener.

Each set includes lessons, educator resources, and different student activities/assignments, and will:

  • Focus on agriculture and environmental sustainability.
  • Emphasize STEM learning, including Health, Science, Agriculture and SEL (social emotional learning) topics.
  • Align with national standards for grades 6-8 in science, social emotional learning, and health education.
  • Incorporate a high degree of individual goal-setting, responsible decision-making, and mindfulness.

These particular lessons, Farmers Fuel The World, discuss agricultural-related careers, environmental stewardship and sustainable food systems.

For more information, please contact: Catherine Hoffman, School Programs Manager, Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council / Maine Dairy Promotion Board, catherine@drinkmainemilk.org or 207-287-3621