GrowME Collaboration Announced

Valley Grange is pleased and excited to announce yet another collaboration… this time with PCSWCD (Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District) and Piscataquis County UMaine Extension Service.

For a number of years Valley Grange “Bookworms” have visited Kindergarten through Third Grade Classrooms in S.A.D. 4 to provide a short reading and activity period in conjunction with Maine Agriculture Week. Students and teachers look forward to our visits in March almost as much as we do! Some of those activities are well on the way to becoming annual “rituals.” Second graders, for example, know that Mr. Boomsma will be making butter with them. Shelia Richards of PCSWCD has visited pre-school classes accompanied by a kid — not the human-kind. In this case a baby goat!

These activities have been meant to make some “hands on” farm and garden activities available to schools and teachers in our county. We’ve also made favorite farm animal graphs with Kindergarten classes and planted sunflower seeds in CD cases with third graders. If there’s been a frustration it’s that we’ve had limited resources and time and haven’t been able to get to more schools and classes.

Thanks to this collaboration, we anticipate having ample volunteers and will now offer the program to schools throughout our county. Many of these volunteers have the sort of agricultural experience and background to be especially relevant to students while providing insight into the importance of agriculture in our area. Our intent is to conduct these activities during Agriculture Week–celebrated this year from March 12 – 16. For this year, we are planning to focus on kindergarten through third grade. Our hope is that this will become an annual program and we may expand into different grades.

Our most immediate need is some gauge of interest and volunteer requirements. To that end, we are contacting schools and teachers with a simple offer: a GrowME volunteer will visit your classroom for about 20 minutes (at a mutually convenient time) to work with your kids on a simple, grade appropriate activity. Teachers and administrators need only furnish contact information: teacher’s name-email address and grade. We’ll take it from there! Interested teachers may email or call Shelia at PCSWCD, 564-2321.

If you’d like to help with promotion, download the GrowME Poster… and be sure to sign up for the GrowME newsletter so you’ll get updates and schedules. (We won’t share your email address with anyone else and we won’t bug you too much!)

In the spirit of collaboration we fully intend to work together to create a program that works for everyone. Suggestions, ideas, and questions are welcome–as are volunteers interested in conducting activities or helping us build the program. Please help us spread the word and “GrowME!”