Maine FFA State Officers Attend Maine Agricultural Trades Show

Pictured: Maine FFA State Officers Ava Cameron (Secretary-Treasurer), Graham Berry (President) and Camryn Curtis (Vice President) stand above the many agricultural organization displays for the 2020 Maine Agricultural Trades Show.

Student State Officers of the Maine FFA Association—formerly known as “Future Farmers of America,” with name changed simply to “FFA” to reflect increased diversity in agriculture including horticulture, natural resource management and other areas—participated in the 2020 Maine Agricultural Trades Show at the Augusta Civic Center on January 14th & 15th.

Maine FFA State President, Graham Berry, State Vice President, Camryn Curtis, and State Secretary-Treasurer, Ava Cameron, toured the many displays showcasing organizations and growers involved in Maine agriculture.  Accompanied by their State FFA Advisor, Doug Robertson, from the Maine Department of Education, student Officers were impressed by the extent of agricultural entities and opportunities.  They also attended the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Luncheon, with guest speaker Governor Mills, as well as a legislative reception hosted by the Maine Potato Board, and held a meeting for interested students from prospective Maine FFA chapter Maine Academy of Natural Sciences, Hinckley.

Maine’s State FFA Officer team was pleased to see in attendance at the Trades Show representatives from so many of their active sponsors including the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, Maine Agriculture in the Classroom, Farm Credit East, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Maine State Grange, Hammond Tractor, Maine Beef Producer’s Association, and many others.

Maine FFA provides leadership trainings, competitions and awards to students grades 7 to 12 enrolled in courses related to agriculture and natural resources, including science courses with practical applications through school gardens and greenhouses.  Maine FFA is affiliated with the National FFA Organization, the largest youth leadership organization in the United States.

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

Maine DOE Launches Culinary Video Series to Support School Nutrition Programs

The Maine Department of Education (DOE), in collaboration with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, recently launched two sets of videos to help support Maine school nutrition programs around the state. Links to the two sets of videos are available below:

  • Farm to School Videos – showcase the partnerships between farms and schools in an effort to grow the Farm to School movement.
  • Culinary Videos – assist school nutrition professionals in scratch cooking and utilizing local products. The videos can help build culinary skills in a variety of areas such as fruit and vegetable preparation, food safety, time management, and using local ingredients in school recipes.

The Team plans to continue building the video series by incorporating Maine dairy and seafood, among other proteins, in school recipes as well as other educational videos in the near future.

The Department would like to extend a special thank you to the people who made these videos a success:

  • Chef Samantha Gasbarro (Consultant)
  • Mike Flynn (School Nutrition Director for RSU 12)
  • Alisa Roman (School Nutrition Director for Lewiston Public Schools)
  • Chef Heidi Parent (Culinary Arts Instructor from Capital Area Technical Center)
  • Josh Girard (Girard Farm)
  • Kelby Young (Olde Haven Farm)
  • Trent Emery (Emery Farm)
  • Ryan Roderick (Chef and Wellness Coordinator for RSU 14)
  • Justin Deri (School Garden and Greenhouse Manager from Falmouth Schools)
  • Martha Poliquin (School Nutrition Director, Falmouth Schools)

In addition to the videos, the Child Nutrition Team also offers in-person and webinar trainings. The next culinary training will be on February 21st and will be geared towards new and trending school breakfast ideas. Check out all their training opportunities in the Child Nutrition calendar, you can also stay up-to-date on child Nutrition news by joining the Child Nutrition email list.

All of the the videos are available on the Maine DOE’s website here: www.maine.gov/farmtoschool. For more information about the Farm-to-School Program, please visit this website.

50+ School and District Leaders Come Together to Enhance Student Support and Instructional Practice

Collaboration and support was the primary focus of three recent technical assistance session held in Ellsworth, Brewer, and Augusta between 50+ school and district leadership teams and the Maine DOE ESEA Federal Program team members.

During the half day sessions, the 100+ participants worked alongside DOE staff, including school leadership coaches, to explore innovative approaches to leveraging federal funds through blending and braiding of ESEA Federal Program allocations, school-wide authority, and additional Title I school improvement funds to supplement and enhance current student support and instructional practice.

“We had great turnout, great conversation, and enthusiasm at these meetings and we are encouraged as we move forward,” said Janette Kirk, Maine DOE Chief of Learning Systems.

Maine Youth Action Network Offering Free Trainings Focused on Youth Engagement, Social Emotional Learning, and more!

For the 2019-2020 academic year, Maine Youth Action Network (MYAN) is hosting 26 free Continuing Education Trainings that are focused on Youth Engagement, Social Emotional Learning, and more. Each of these trainings are free to attend, offer CEUS, and provide lunch.

Transforming Knowledge into Action

Participate in a learning cohort with other emerging leaders in the youth engagement field. This three-part series provides participants with train-the-trainer content on youth mentoring best practices, engagement & retention strategies, and youth facilitation strategies. You’ll leave with training materials, strengthened skills, and deeper connections to other youth workers in your community.

This series follows a cohort model. Over the course of the three trainings, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a consistent community of professionals in your field to share strategies and challenges, build connections, and develop new skills to take back to your work.

For those unable to commit to a cohort, each training will be offered individually in the Augusta area:

Emerging Best Practices of Youth Prevention

Join the MYAN team for a three-part series focused on leveraging prevention best practices to effectively engage youth within our communities. Learn the neuroscience behind why scare tactics miss the mark in adolescent brains, strategies for directly involving youth in prevention-focused research, and how to grow and sustain lasting, supportive relationships with any young person.

This series follows a cohort model. Over the course of the three trainings, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with a consistent community of professionals in your field to share strategies and challenges, build connections, and develop new skills to take back to your work.

For those unable to commit to a cohort, each training will be offered individually in the Augusta area:

Two-Day Intensive Workshops

Join us for four certificate based training programs designed to offer in-depth and youth-focused learning opportunities for Maine adults. Learn advanced facilitation skills, how to help adolescents through mental health challenges, incorporate restorative based practices into everyday work with youth, and learn how to navigate differences in culture and identity along with their impact on youth engagement.

Youth Mental Health First Aid
Bangor Feb 25-26 – Bangor Registration
Youth Mental Health First Aid is designed to teach parents, family members, caregivers, teachers, school staff, peers, neighbors, health and human services workers, and other caring citizens how to help an adolescent (age 12-18) who is experiencing a mental health or addictions challenge or is in crisis. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD), and eating disorders.

Advanced Youth Facilitation Skills
Portland Jan 28-29 – Portland Registration 
Bangor Feb 11-12 – Bangor Registration

Fill your toolbox with activities, skills and facilitation strategies intended to grow your practice working with youth groups. Learn the skills to help groups solve complex problems, leverage diverse points of view, practice social-emotional skills and build engaging sessions for your team.

Practicing with a Restorative Lens
Bangor Mar 3-4 –  Portland Registration
Portland Mar 24-25 – Bangor Registration

Are you incorporating social emotional learning into your teaching practice? Working with colleagues to build a trauma- or healing-informed approach? Join fellow educators and youth facilitators in layering a restorative lens onto youth engagement practices. Workshop participants will explore restorative frameworks, build foundational skills, and strategize opportunities to promote restorative approaches in relationships and communities.

For further information visit the MYAN Continuing Education web pages or contact MYAN.

Keep Kids Moving, Keep Kids Learning!

During these cold winter days of cabin fever in the classroom, we want to support educators with resources to keep kids moving and engaged.  Evidence suggests a positive impact of physical activity on academic achievement and in reducing behavioral challenges. Active recess time, physical education classes, and utilizing action-based learning strategies in the classroom can all be part of the regular school day.

We share the following as a resource.

Programs to explore

Healthy Kids Healthy Futures:  Staff can learn about the benefits and best practices of physical activity in child care and early education (including pre-school) settings. Physical activity habits learned in early childhood can last a lifetime.

Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program:  This guide is for schools and school districts to develop, implement, and evaluate comprehensive physical activity programs. School-age youth should participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, and schools have a significant role to play in helping students achieve this recommendation. This guide will help schools identify how to establish more active school environments.

Let’s Go: Let’s Go! is a childhood obesity prevention program found across Maine and in Mt. Washington Valley, New Hampshire. These programs use evidence-based strategies to increase healthy eating and physical activity among children from birth to 18. The foundation for change is the 5-2-1-0 healthy habits message, developed in Maine and recognized nationally.

Explore Physical Activity:  School staff can learn about the five components of a comprehensive school physical activity program and how this new national model can support a culture of physical activity at your school.

I Can Do It (ICDI):  The “I Can Do It” program is a strategic physical activity program for students with disabilities in the K-12 school setting designed to provide access, equity, and facilitate and encourage opportunities for students with disabilities to be physically active for 60 minutes a day.

Specific Class Motor Break Ideas

Classroom Exercise Breaks for Elementary Students:  Classroom exercise break suggestions for elementary school classrooms.

Reading:  Literacy and movement suggestions to engage middle school students in acquiring knowledge. The suggestions require minimal materials and teacher preparation.

Scholastic Teachers:  Suggestions for combining both exercise and movement in early childhood classrooms across the content areas.

Math: quick physical activity games:  Movement suggestions to engage students while improving number sense.

Physical Activity Math Games:  A list of possibilities for supporting kinesthetic learners during mathematics instruction.

Classrooms in Motion :  A review resource hub for teachers committed to infusing movement into their instructional plans.

For more information or to share ideas, contact Jean Zimmerman, Health and Physical Ed. Consultant, at  Jean.zimmerman@maine.gov or 207-624-6687.