Local collaboration will provide classroom activities

Posted Jan. 31, 2012, at 5:14 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A group of volunteers are gardening and farming this winter with the GrowME program offered to kindergarten through grade three teachers in Piscataquis County. The program is a collaboration of Valley Grange, Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District and University of Maine Piscataquis County Extension.

The program uses local volunteers who will work with teachers to schedule an agricultural activity in their classrooms during Maine Agriculture Week, March 12-16. A GrowME volunteer will visit the classroom for about 20 minutes and assist students with a simple, grade-appropriate activity.

The program is the brainchild of Shelia Richards, executive director of the conservation district and Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange.

Boomsma said that 27 classes already had signed up. “We’ve got master gardeners and farmers available through extension programs and [the conservation district] includes partners and resources that are committed to good stewardship. Our goal is to keep this informal, local and a true partnership between our schools, teachers and volunteers,” he said. “Our volunteers will have the sort of agricultural experience and background especially relevant to students while providing insight into the importance of agriculture in our area.”

This year, the group is planning to focus on kindergarten through third grade but is hoping to make the program an annual event to expand into additional grades.

To learn more about the program, email grange@boomsmaonline.com or call Richards at 564-2321. Information also is available at valleygrange.com.

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