From the community

John Piotti Featured Lapping Lecture Speaker at UCCPA on November 18

Posted Nov. 08, 2013, at 6:38 p.m.
John Piotti
John Piotti

Unity, Maine – John Piotti, a former Majority Leader for the Maine State House of Representatives and CEO of the Maine Farmland Trust, will be the featured Lapping Lecture Series speaker on Monday, November 18 at the Unity College Center for the Performing Arts (UCCPA), from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Admission is free and open to the general public. Light refreshments will be served.

The UCCPA is located at 42 Depot Street, Unity.

One of Maine’s rising stars in agriculture and food systems issues, Piotti will offer a critical overview of the challenges and opportunities related to farming in Maine.

A former Chair of the Unity College Board of Trustees and Trustee, Piotti was invited to be a Lapping Lecture speaker by a group of Unity College students who participated in an Environmental Issues and Insights course taught by Instructor James Merkel during the Spring Semester of 2013. Students in the class identified rising leaders in the fields of climate change, environmental justice and food systems. They then created 3 minute mini-documentaries on the leader they chose, one of whom was Piotti. These documentaries were presented at the Unity College Student Conference in May, a twice-yearly opportunity to showcase student research and art. Students voted on the documentary featuring a rising leader in Maine who they would most like to invite to be a featured speaker at the Lapping Lecture series.

Students chose the documentary featuring Piotti and Maine Farmland Trust from more than a dozen entries. Piotti accepted the invitation to speak on November 18.

A resident of Unity, Piotti is president and CEO of Maine Farmland Trust, an award-winning statewide non-profit organization that has helped over 400 Maine farms remain viable and helped protect over 35,000 acres of Maine’s best farmland.

He has worked on agriculture issues since the early 1990s—when most people dismissed farming in Maine as having no future. From 1995 to 2006, he managed all the farm programs for Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI). He was as founder of Maine Farmland Trust in 1999, and served on its board thereafter. He became the Trust’s CEO in 2006.

Piotti has served as chair of the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) and a director of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture. In Maine, he has been a key player in just about every state level committee and task force involved in agriculture over the past 15 years.

From 2002 to 2010 Piotti also served in Maine’s State Legislature, where he chaired the Agriculture Committee and later served as House Majority Leader.

In 2005, he was one of only eight Americans awarded a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship. He spent time in Sweden and Brussels exploring European models for using agriculture as a vehicle to advance sustainable community development.

A resident of Unity for over 25 years, Piotti has been active in town planning issues and was the force behind the creation of Unity Barn Raisers. For ten years, he served as Unity Barn Raiser’s executive director—a role he played as a volunteer, without any pay.

Piotti holds three degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): in engineering, public policy, and management.

He was recently named by Maine Magazine as one of the 50 people who have done the most for the state.

Unity College has been nominated as the Green University of the Year for the 2013 Climate Change Award by Responding to Climate Change (RTCC). This international award nomination recognizes Unity College for its green leadership, Unity being the only institution of higher learning from the United States to be nominated.

In recent years Unity College has gained national attention for a variety of achievements including for its focus on sustainability science, the leading-edge of 21st century ecological problem solving and the vanguard in the fight for the mitigation of global climate change; its ground-breaking green innovations such as the award-winning TerraHaus, the first student residence on a college or university campus built to the Passive House standard, the most energy efficient building standard in the world; and being the first college in the United States to divest from investments in fossil fuels, igniting a growing national movement in higher education.

Unity College is a private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education that emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.

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