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!”

Support Our Troops-Linens Needed

Valley Grange Members Jim and Mary Annis have a grandson currently serving his fourth tour in Iraq. His unit, the 51st Trans Company is finishing up their tour and was the unit to “close the gate” as they left Iraq and entered Kuwait. In about 6 weeks they will be returning “home” to Mannheim, Germany. For married soldiers everything is already set for their arrival as their spouses will see to their needs. However, 109 single soldiers will be arriving to live in the barracks. Usually a FRG (Family Readiness Group), an organization made up of family members and volunteers, provides basic linens for these returning soldiers, however, this group located in Mannheim does not have enough funds to provide these linens. They are hoping to collect twin sheets, pillow cases, pillows, towels and washcloths for each of the single soldiers.

The army does provide brown towels, wash clothes and sleeping bags when a soldier enlists. The reason the barracks rooms are set up before their arrival is because when they deploy they pack up their rooms and everything gets put into storage. Sometimes they arrive in the middle of the night and go straight to bed. The soldiers do not have access to the stored items for several weeks.

This call for help is going out to several organizations in several states. Any extra items collected will be donated to an orphanage in Germany.

If you’d like to help in some way just bring your donations to the next Grange meeting on the 20th or contact Jim or Mary who have said they’ll take care of shipping the items to the proper location.