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,

Maine DHHS Announces Winners of Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest 

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), in partnership with the Maine Department of Education (DOE), today announced the winners of the video competition for Maine children to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.

DHHS and DOE announced the contest on November 3, inviting Maine youth ages 5 to 17 to submit 30-second videos that they believed would encourage other children, along with their parents, to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

The winners are:

  • 1st place: Renée Morin (sophomore), Olie Saywell (sophomore), Hunter Roberts (junior, created original score), Ian Kruger (senior, camera operator); The New School (high school), Kennebunk
  • 2nd place: Spencer Michalski (8th grade), homeschooled, Columbia
  • 3rd place: Natalie Waters (6th grade), Lincoln Middle School, Portland

The winning entries can be viewed here:

“Congratulations to the winners of our Maine Kids COVID-19 Vaccination Video Contest, who displayed creativity, conviction, and courage in their submissions,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine CDC Director Nirav D. Shah. “We’re grateful to every Maine child and teenager who submitted an entry – they are all public health champions. Thanks to people like them, Maine is quickly getting enough students vaccinated to begin returning to more normal ways of learning and having fun.”

“Getting back to normal and doing our part to end the pandemic inspired us to submit to the contest,” said the first-place team from The New School. “By spreading awareness and empowering fellow young people with facts about vaccination, helping younger Mainers to not be afraid, and using skills we learned in video production, we hoped to contribute to positive public health messaging.”

“My plunge into the frigid water was worth the sacrifice for the greater good,” added Olie Saywel.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is promoting the winning videos on social media.

Additionally, first-place winner The New School will receive $50,000; second -place winner Spencer Michalski selected Downeast Audubon as the nonprofit to receive the $25,000 second-place prize to fund summer camp scholarships; and third-place winner Lincoln Middle School will receive $10,000.

Schools can use the winnings to supplement school meals with healthy treats; purchase playground, classroom, gym, sports, or music equipment; enhance a special school activity; or support a school field trip for all students.

Over 50 submissions were reviewed, without identifying information, by a committee comprised of DHHS, CDC and DOE staff members. The selection criteria included originality and clarity of the message, consistency with public health information on youth vaccination, and potential to reach unvaccinated groups, among others.

Children could produce the video submissions on their own or as part of a school activity. Participation was limited to Maine residents.

The prize winnings are supported by the Federally funded Coronavirus Relief Fund at Maine DHHS, which was the source of funds for previous COVID-19 vaccine incentive programs in Maine.

The video competition is part of Maine DHHS and Maine CDC’s broader plan to support vaccination of children ages 5 to 11. Nearly 29% of Maine children ages 5 to 11 have received at least a first dose of vaccine, nearly double the national average of 14.7 percent and ranking Maine third in the nation, according to the U.S. CDC.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for children 5 to 11 years old in a two-dose series, and is administered in a lower dose than the vaccine for adolescents and adults.

COVID-19 vaccines are available at no charge at sites across the state. For information on getting a vaccine, please visit or call the Community Vaccination Line at 1-888-445-4111.

WEBINAR: COVID-19 Vaccines for School-Aged Children: What Parents and Families Should Know

Please join the U.S. Department of Education and National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement for an informational webinar following the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech age 5-11 vaccine.

Thursday, December 9, 2021
At 8:00PM EST

This is a such special time of year, and this year, we all have one more thing to be grateful for: Kids ages 5 to 11 are now eligible to get vaccinated. The vaccine is safe and effective, specifically formulated for young kids. And getting your child vaccinated is the best way to keep them safe from COVID, including the Delta variant. This is great news for parents and families.

During the webinar, esteemed panelists including United States Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten along with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics will address common concerns and worries among parents and families about the COVID-19 vaccine for their child(ren) ages 5-11.

Parents are invited to submit questions about the vaccine on the registration form. Pre-submitted questions will help plan the content of the session. Time will also be reserved for live questions and answers at the end of the event.

Register in advance for this meeting here!

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For further information please contact or visit


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,

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, 207-624-6744