June 21, 2018
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Forestry program unites KidsPeace participants, conservation groups

By Kevin Miller, BDN Staff

ORLAND, Maine — A unique forestry partnership between the KidsPeace program in Hancock County and an Orland land trust has expanded to allow children and young adults to share their handiwork with organizations throughout the region.

For several years, students at KidsPeace’s Graham Lake campus in Ellsworth have spent one day a week working with Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust, which operates the roughly 4,300-acre Great Pond Mountain Wildlands in Orland. KidsPeace is a national program for children and young adults with behavioral, emotional or learning challenges.

The KidsPeace participants have helped clear land and brush, build birdhouses, remove beaver dams and perform other services. Called the KidsGiveBack Forestry Program, the partnership helps the students learn about teamwork and build self confidence while working outdoors.

More recently, the students began building and painting small sawhorses that the trust uses to mark potholes, block roads or trails in the wildlands, post signs or protect saplings. Each of the “little sawhorses” — simple, folding contraptions painted either red or green — bears a tag labeling it as being built by KidsGiveBack program and naming the students involved.

“But word has gotten out and a lot of people are requesting them now,” said Hans Krichels, coordinator of the KidsGiveBack program. “It’s a question of how fast we can make them,” he added.

On Thursday, KidsPeace participants Joey Branch, 20, and Billy Buckland, 13, helped Krichels deliver more than a dozen new sawhorses to Great Pond Mountain Conservation Trust as well as to representatives of Friends of Sears Island and Maine Coast Heritage Trust.

“It’s something that I’ve always liked doing, sawing and painting and things like that,” Buckland said.

Branch, meanwhile, said he enjoys helping the trust’s foresters and learning woodworking, a valuable skill.

There is no charge for the sawhorses, although donations are accepted. For more information about the KidsGiveBack program, contact Hans Krichels at Hans.Krichels@kidspeace.org.

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