Friday, August 31, 2012

York Family’s Inspirational Story Becomes National News

Chris, Lauren, and Jason Durkin (photo courtesy Durkin family and ABC News)
By Pat Sommers
Staff Columnist

Sharon and Michael Durkin felt as if they were living a bad dream in 2006 when son Jason, then 18, was diagnosed with a rare disorder that affects the blood and bone marrow.
That bad dream became a recurring nightmare for the York parents.
Doctors subsequently discovered that their younger son, Chris, was suffering from the same condition, myelodysplastic syndromes, or MDS. He was 15.
Then, in 2009, daughter Lauren, now a senior at York High School, received the same diagnosis.
The story of the York family’s courage in coping with the potentially life-threatening illness was spotlighted this week on ABC’s “Good Morning America” television program. Robin Roberts, an anchor for the popular morning show who successfully battled breast cancer five years ago, announced recently that she has MDS. The disorder, she said, was triggered by her cancer treatment.
In MDS, the blood marrow does not make enough normal blood cells for the body. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets may all be affected, and the course of the disease is different for each of the 10,000 to 15,000 Americans who are diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndromes annually.
Though MDS can affect people of any age, at least 80 percent of all cases occur in people over 60, making the case of the Durkin siblings more startling. The disorder is more common in men than women.
In reporting on Roberts’ diagnosis and the upcoming bone marrow transplant that will be part of her treatment for MDS, ABC noted the extreme rarity of the genetic form of the disorder for which Jason, Chris, and Lauren were treated.
According to Dr. Inga Hofmann of Dana-Farber/Children’s Hospital Cancer Center, the Boston facility where the Durkin children received treatment, only about 4 in 1 million children in the U.S. are diagnosed with MDS. Having more than one child in a family diagnosed with the disorder is exceedingly rare, she said.
Jason was diagnosed after his ice hockey coach noticed the boy seemed to be lagging in tryouts. ”Something just didn’t seem right,” Sharon Durkin told ABC. A trip to the family doctor and subsequent blood tests led to the discovery of MDS.
As doctors searched for a matching donor for an urgently needed bone marrow transplant for Jason, they tested his brother. Chris was a perfect donor match, but the tests indicated he also had MDS.
Both young men received successful bone marrow transplants in 2007and, as part of the treatment regimen, both were quarantined for a full year to protect their fragile immune systems from infection. Similarly, Roberts is expected to take a leave of several months from her post on the morning show.
Treatment immediately prior to the bone marrow transplants essentially strips the body of all its immunity, Michael Durkin explained. The donor bone marrow is then introduced into the body where it starts to strengthen. “It’s sort of like getting a whole new immune system,” he told The Weekly Sentinel.
Lauren Durkin, whose tests for MDS were negative during the two years of her brothers’ treatment and recovery, received a positive result in 2009. When efforts to find a transplant donor match came up empty, she received a blood cord transplant of stem cells. A high fever and infection at one point severely threatened the teen’s life, but she fought her way through and is ready to resume classes at York High, where she is a member of the varsity hockey team.
Durkin said there is really no way to explain how the family handled the fear and anguish they felt during the past six years. “We just took it one day at a time,” he said. “That’s all you can do.”
The three children were “very strong” through the entire ordeal, their father added.
Comforting to the Durkin family was the response of friends, neighbors and total strangers.
“The community of York was absolutely fabulous,” Durkin said, noting that drives to register area residents as potential bone marrow donors for the Durkin children and others in need attracted about 800 people.
Both Sharon and Michael Durkin are community minded. They have both been active in sports organizations for children, serving in administrative capacities and assisting in efforts to coach area teams.
Their hard work was rewarded in the many events hosted on their behalf during the family’s time of crisis. “Community members were tremendous in their response,” Michael Durkin reiterated.
All three Durkin children are “now stable,” according to their father. Jason, approaching his 24th birthday, is an honor graduate of the University of Maine and has launched a career. Chris, 21, is a college sophomore. Lauren, ready to begin her final year at York High, is eying a career as a pediatric oncology nurse.
They are all healthy, enthusiastic, and optimistic.
And they shared that exuberance this week with ABC’s Roberts, each offering a personal message of encouragement and good wishes as she begins her own fight with MDS.

Thornton Academy Extends Global Reach to 16 Countries Recent Graduate Starts Life at an American College

Teddy Laing with new roommate, John, at Florida Southern College. Laing was a Thornton Academy Homestay student, who lived with the Trues of Saco for two years. (courtesy photo)

By Timothy Gillis

Thornton Academy, in the fourth year of its foreign outreach program, has seen a steady increase in the number of participants, as well as the involvement of several countries from all over Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
In fact, Mark Powers, director of admissions, is so busy flying around the world on recruiting trips that TA has added an admissions associate to help with the workload. Thornton just hired Abigail Swardlick, who will be “helping out to expand our reach worldwide,” said Powers. “Her first trip is to Latin America this fall.”
The program, which started with forty students, has grown each year.
“There will be 136 students (this year) on campus in our dorms or in our homestay program,” Powers said this week. “They hail from sixteen countries, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Spain, and Brazil.”
Powers’ job requires him to fly around world, learning about other cultures and sharing the prospect of American culture, in the form of a high school in Saco, with the people he meets.
“I’ve pretty much touched down all over the place,” Powers said, adding that he often travels with representatives from other Maine boarding schools, like Maine Central Institute and Hebron Academy. “My most recent trip was to China to do some recruiting and find out more about the country.”
Foreign students now comprise ten percent of Thornton’s total population, he said, necessitating the building of an additional dormitory last year. The new housing is named after retiring headmaster Carl Stasio, Jr. (Rene Menard, a TA graduate who taught there and become associate headmaster in 2007, is the new headmaster.)
Four teachers and their families supervise the dorm, living there full-time, Powers said. They engage in all the family-style activities one would imagine of any other family - during evenings and on weekends – joining the students in various activities coordinated by Kelli Corrigan, director of residential life.
The on-campus housing has expanded, and participation in the Homestay Program has likewise ballooned over the past four years.
Karen True was one of the first parents to participate in the program, and she recently flew to Florida to visit Teddy Liang, the student she hosted for two years.
“I wanted to make sure he was safely settled into his new school,” True said of Laing, a freshman at Florida Southern College.
She first heard about the hosting opportunity three years ago from her daughter-in-law, Tracie, a math teacher who moved from Thornton Academy High School to the TA Middle School, on the same campus.
“She decided she wanted to become involved in the dorm program, and she mentioned they were looking for Homestay parents,” said True, who added that she loved the experience and would gladly host another student.
“This young man did research online, found Thornton Academy, came to the US, all with no parental help,” she said. Laing lived in the dorm as a sophomore, then moved in with the Trues. “He had been in a boarding school in China, had never lived in a home environment.”
True said her family loved Laing’s “great personality,” and he loved being part of their family. “He integrated well into the things that we did. He’d even come with me on location to shoot commercials,” said True, a freelance film and commercial television producer.
Laing was planning to study business, at first, but is changing his major to study psychology. “He was fortunate enough to find international students at his college who speak Mandarin Chinese,” she said. “I became attached to Teddy and making sure his needs were met, as if he were my own child. I had to make sure his college experience is a positive one.”
True’s two children both graduated from TA in the 1990’s, and Laing’s arrival reminded her fondly of those days.
“Teddy's roommate is John from Nashville TN,” Trus said. “I spoke with Teddy last night, and he said that he is having fun and has already made some friends he is hanging out with. If you knew Teddy and how shy he is you would realize what a big step this is. I can't say enough nice things about Teddy. He truly became part of our family and brought us a great deal of joy. He only went home during summer vacations so he spent all holidays and vacation time with us too,” said True. “If my husband could have had the time off from work, he would have been in Florida too.”

Retired Doctor Hikes Entire Appalachian Trail in Five Months

Nathan Gagnon met his father, David, at the end of his long journey (courtesy photo)

By Timothy Gillis

David Gagnon, a retired family doctor who lives in South Berwick, recently completed a very long journey. He hiked all 2,184 miles of the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine. He completed the trek in five months, staying at hostels and shelters and camping along the way.
His travels were inspired by a gift from his daughter, Nicole, last year, and when giving it to him, she probably had little inclination her present would expand exponentially.
“My daughter got me a stay on Mount Washington for Father’s Day a year ago,” Gagnon said from his home this week, recuperating and planning his next voyage.
“I hiked thirteen miles and felt pretty good, so that planted the seed that I’m not over the hill yet.”
Gagnon’s Mount Washington experience solidified his resolve to take the longer trip, so he made plans and departed this past March. He took the “midnight train to Georgia,” said Susan Gagnon, his wife. He rode the Crescent Line, from Boston to New York to Philadelphia, and then on to Gainesville, Georgia, where he made his way to the start of the Appalachian Trail. Then began the epic trip, with Gagnon carrying his 40-pound backpack along the way.
He was a family doctor with a practice in Eliot until he retired last September. His wife, Susan, works as a nurse at Marshwood High School.
“She’s supporting me,” he joked. In fact, his entire family has been supportive of the trip. His daughter inspired it, and his son, Nathan, met him at Mount Katahdin to hike the last leg of the journey with him. Nathan, 28, and Nicole, 30, both went to Marshwood High School. Nathan went to the University of Vermont and now works at Northeastern in their curriculum planning department. Nicole went to Brown and the University of Southern Maine, and then followed in her mom’s footsteps and went into nursing.
Gagnon’s hike offered him a fair share of adventure.
“On the third day out, I had my food bag rifled by a bear,” he said. “So I had to get new supplies and a new waterproof bag the next day.”
That bear became a recurring visitor to Gagnon and his fellow hikers. “The bear came back two or three times. We kept trying to hang our supplies higher but we weren’t successful.”
He started the trip hiking with an Englishman nicknamed “Hop-along” as he had a funny way of walking, Gagnon said.
“We met the first day and hiked for the first few days together. He was very brave. He would run out and scare the bear away,” Gagnon said. “The trick to is don’t make eye contact, but try to scare them away. Don’t let them get used to hanging around with humans.”
Gagnon said he heard the story of the recent fatal bear attack in Denali National Park, the first such attack in the park’s history, so he knows full well – despite its rarity – of the possibilities of such trouble and the dangers inherent in wilderness walking.
Doctor Dave, as he is known on the trails, was separated from Hop-along soon into the trip. “It was raining, and I wanted to keet hiking but he stayed put,” Gagnon said, adding that people often get trail names from some quirk of their personality.
He returned home on August 12, when he met his son and wife at Mount Katahdin. He finished the journey by hiking to the summit and back with his son.
While on the trail, Gagnon said he had a cell phone, but there were days - even weeks - when he didn’t have cell service. Up next for the intrepid traveler is a more intellectual pursuit – he’s writing a book.
Submitted to potential publishers before he departed, he is now working with Vantage Press to fine-tune the work, a fictional account “about the things that happened to me as a doctor over the years.”
While the book doesn’t include any aspects of his journey, he is going to talk to his editor about possibly adding a chapter. “They say the book works pretty well as it is, so shouldn’t need much editing,” he said.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Memorial Bridge – First Builder Connected to Current Designer

The Atlas passing under the Memorial Bridge. Without a lift bridge, the river traffic on the Piscataque would be choked off.

Story and photo by Bill Moore
Staff Columnist

Once upon a time, there was this bridge carrying up to 14,000 cars and trucks a day back and forth across the Piscataqua River on the Post Road between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. That structure, the Memorial Bridge, was opened in 1923, and over the past six months -- because it failed a critical safety inspection on July 27, 2011 -- it was pulled down to make room for an innovative first-of-its-kind new bridge that will open in the summer of 2013.
That opening will be accompanied by a grand celebration that you won't want to miss.
In the coming weeks we will be putting a human face on the Memorial Bridge, providing something on its history and the evolving construction of a replacement structure. We'll give you interesting photos and facts about the ongoing work, all the major moments in the birth of this new and historic monument.
Before we go forward, let's go backward a bit to put the whole thing into perspective.
Leonardo da Vinci, the Italian sculptor, painter and architect, first conceived of a lift-bridge back in the 15th century, the idea being that the main span would be lifted upward so river traffic could travel either upstream or downstream under a bridge. Bridges, instead of being barriers to river traffic, became gateways to commerce.
That concept was expanded upon over the years, and a Canadian civil engineer trained at Rensselaer Polytechnical Institute in Troy, New York, named J.A.L. Waddell, perfected the idea and built hundreds of lift bridges around the world, including the Memorial Bridge.
And, as an extra interesting fact, the company that Waddell founded in 1914 formed the basis of the company -- HNTB -- that has designed the replacement bridge as well. The company doing the construction work is Archer Western.
At this point the 89-year-old bridge has been removed, and preparation is under way for the new, modern structure.
While the work going on right now is fairly dull from a visual standpoint, things will get busy at the end of this year as a new span for the Portsmouth side of the river is assembled at the New Hampshire state dock. That first span will be pieced together aboard the huge barge Cape Cod. Sometime in December, that first span will be floated down the river and placed on the Portsmouth side of the river -- as Mother Nature lifts the barge and span into position with the rising tide, the first step in having a new bridge will be started.
Because there are a lot of facts to digest, there are several links you'll want to check.
The first is brought to you by McFarland Johnson, the public relations company handling the overall presentation of information to the media. See that here:
The second important site to check is this:  It provides you with a real-time look at the work being done on the bridge.

York County Community College Loses a Great Leader

Dr. Charlie Lyons, 68, dies after battle with cancer

Dr. Charlie Lyons, president of York County Community College, died this past Wednesday after a battle with cancer.
“It is with great sadness that I notify you of the passing of Charlie Lyons, president of York County Community College,” said Dr. John Fitzsimmons, president of the
Maine Community College System. “Charlie passed away this morning after bravely facing the challenges of cancer. He was a devoted husband and father who always put his family first. Our thoughts and prayers are with his loving wife Barbara and their children.”
Lyons proudly served as a university and college president in Maine for seventeen years, and held various other leadership positions in higher education for twenty-two years. He was recognized as an advocate for students and a cheerleader for the importance of higher education in the lives of the people of Maine.
“Today, a family lost a husband and a father, and the state of Maine lost a great leader. We will all miss the energy and joy he brought to anyone in his presence,” Fitzsimmons said.
He had been appointed president of York County Community College in Wells in 2006. Described as a “dynamic and high energy leader,” Lyons was instrumental in transforming the college into a successful academic example.
He was former chair of the Maine Higher Education Council, chair of the Board of Visitors of the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, and a senior member of the Clinical Research Review Committee at Maine Medical Center. He had also chaired the Maine Higher Education Partnership, a group of six UMS and MCCS presidents charged with creating seamless articulation agreements among the fourteen institutions that comprise the University of Maine and Maine Community College Systems.
When he was hired by YCCC in 2006, he was selected from a field of sixty candidates following a national search. The father of five, Lyons graduated from Madison High School in Maine and was living in Scarborough. His wife is Barbara Lyons, a special education teacher at Sanford Junior High School, where she has worked for the past twenty-three years.

Concert in Kennebunkport to Benefit Wounded Warrior Project

The First Congregational Church of Kennebunkport, 141 North St., is sponsoring the only State of Maine appearance of the Sharon Concert Band of Sharon, Massachusetts. Under the direction of Stephen Bell, this benefit concert will feature a variety of music, which will include some patriotic pieces, on Sunday, September 9, 3:30 to 5 p.m. outside at the Consolidated School, (in the gym if it rains). Bring your lawn chairs or blankets. The concert is being held to honor all who have served in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan and to honor the memory of those lost on September 11, 2001. Participating in this event will be the Kennebunkport American Legion Post 159 Color Guard. The cost to attend will be your donation of any sum, with 100 percent of the donations going to the Wounded Warrior Project. Anyone unable to attend may mail a donation to the church address, or make an online donation to the Wounded Warrior Project Active members of the military may attend free of charge. First Church members will be providing a concession with proceeds going to the church. A reminder: the school property is a drug and alcohol free zone and this event is an alcohol free event.
The Sharon Concert Band was founded in 1988 by the late Roy Scott, under the auspices of the Sharon Recreation Deptartment in Massachusetts. The band has grown from a handful of Sharon residents to a large group of musicians ranging in age from teens to seventies. Members come from Sharon and area towns in Greater Boston and Rhode Island. Members include students, adults who picked up their instruments after many years, professional musicians, and music teachers. The Sharon Concert Band offers one of the best opportunities in the Boston/Providence area to make quality music in a collegial atmosphere. The band maintains an active performance schedule throughout the year. For more on the band,
Bell is in his fifth year as musical and artistic director for the concert band and the Roy Scott Big Band. He has served as the Director of Instrumental Music at Eastern Nazarene College, in Quincy, Massachusetts, where he directs two ensembles and instructs various instrumental method classes. A former music educator and director of music with the Rockland Public Schools, Bell is a recipient of the Lowell Mason Award presented by the Massachusetts Music Educators Association. For more information, contact church member Jan Dicey at 207-967-0641 or

Friday, August 17, 2012

Run for the Fallen this Weekend in Ogunquit

Tributes and flags from last year’s Run for the Fallen (courtesy photo)
By C. Ayn Douglass
Staff Columnist

On Flag Day, June 14, 2008, a group of runners made it their goal to run from Fort Irwin, California, to Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate the lost lives of servicemen and women who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Since then, the Run for the Fallen has been an annual event in many states and is locally supported by many towns.
On August 19 in Ogunquit, the fifth annual Run for the Fallen will take place with an expected 200 runners covering the forty-two miles between the town square and the end point in Portland.
While the energy and excitement of the event is spectacle enough, the run is a staging point for a  more sobering and deeply felt commitment held by organizer John Mixon and his dedicated group of volunteers and supporters. Their mission doesn't begin or end with the Run for the Fallen. It is a year-round labor of love.
Mixon, a military veteran himself, realized that the pain from the sudden loss of a family member on foreign soil doesn't end with the funeral. It goes on and takes the form of emotional and financial upheaval. In Maine, the lives of the families of eighty-one servicemen and women have been changed forever as a result of that loss.
“The biggest thing we do is raise awareness and make a great day for them,” Mixon said. “Not only a great day; a no red-tape lifeline when they have a need.” Those needs are quite basic such as fuel oil, medicine, funeral expenses or vehicle repair. “Throughout the year, we know they are legitimate (needs) because they're sent to us by Survivor Outreach, a program run by the National Guard.”
The project also set up a scholarship fund for surviving children of veterans. This year, five $1,000 scholarships were awarded to family members. “All who applied got one. Same as last year,” Mixon said.
In addition to helping with financial needs, Mixon has helped to create an emotional support network within the Maine families, many of whom will be at the event on August 19 either at the start or the end of the run. He calls the families the 'silent sufferers.' “We, who haven't experienced that, can't understand. It's real-life stuff and you're touched by it.”
He sees the difference between the Vietnam-era culture and that of today.
“The country has done a 180-degree turn from the 60's and 70's. I can't turn back the hands of time, but we can make it better for this generation of soldiers,” he said.
Mixon said he expects a good turnout for this year's run and doesn't ask or encourage anyone to attempt to run all sixty-five kilometers. “We have no expectation that everyone will finish.”
It's enough, he said, that the soldier's family will see the runner and recognize the tribute that he or she is paying to the fallen soldier. There is no one-size-fits-all description of a participant. Mixon said many families, military people, or people who just want to walk have taken part on event day.
Mixon relies on a dedicated team of volunteers who assist him throughout the year including more than 100 on event day alone, as well as a core group of individuals who assist him the rest of the year.
Though 2012 is the final year Mixon and his volunteers will organize the Run for the Fallen, memorializing the servicemen and women and honoring their families in the future may take a new form, perhaps as a 5K run, Mixon said. Also, he is working with Governor Paul LePage to create a non-profit acquisition of land in Kittery to build a memorial to all Maine veterans.
“It's the start of the Gold Star Highway,” he said. It would tie it all in and permanently honor Gold Star Families and Maine veterans.

Ogunquit Playhouse & Maine Children’s Cancer Program Team Up

Jillian Dumais with Damn Yankees cast member Justin Flexen

Kids get chance to play ball with Damn Yankees cast

Story and Photo by Timothy Gillis
Staff Columnist

OGUNQUIT – The Maine Children’s Cancer Program visited the Ogunquit Playhouse this past Sunday, August 12, to catch a matinee edition of “Damn Yankees” and then play ball with the cast. It was a special day for several children as they got to meet the actors and actresses, team up with them in the field, and take their cracks at the bat.
The event, which took place on the field beside the playhouse, provided young cancer patients and their families a day’s respite from the ongoing battles.
“It was a fantastic day,” said Timothy Boynton, development manager for MCCP. “The families had a great time.” Also taking part in the festivities were physicians, board members, and staff members.
“The kids liked the play so much,” he said. “It’s all they’ve been talking about.” Part of the purpose of the event was to “keep cancer from getting in the way of kids being kids,” according to Boynton. “It’s great for them to be able to take a day off from thinking about being sick.”
The event is one of more than thirty that MCCP plans each year. Their big, annual walk is September 15, and they participate in the Maine Marathon, held on September 30.
Boynton was quick to point out that, contrary to most of their other functions, Sunday’s play and ballgame were not fundraising events, but the start of an important partnership.
“It’s the beginning of a relationship with the Playhouse,” he said. “We are a comprehensive cancer research center. We see fifty to sixty new children a year. We are currently treating 275 children with cancer right now, mostly from Maine. What’s unique about MCCP is that we focus on the whole family. Once someone is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family is diagnosed with cancer. So we try to see the whole picture.

Lead Role on Injured Reserve for Ballgame
Sam Prince, who plays the lead role in Damn Yankees, had hurt his back during a scene in the performance when he jumps into a crash pad.
“It’s very safe. I just tweaked my back. I wish I could play, but I’m taking it easy.”
The minor injury was enough to keep him out off of the baseball game with the kids, but he could be seen cheering from the sidelines.
Prince, a 25-year-old actor from Garden of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is in his first production at Ogunquit Playhouse, and is visiting Maine for the first time as well. The scenic surroundings have certainly made an impression on him, though.
“I love Maine,” he said. “It reminds me of the north shore in Minnesota.” Prince received his musical theater degree from Oklahoma City University, where he studied opera.
Speaking about the baseball game with the children, Prince said this was one of the very reasons he got into acting.
“I wish we could do more of this, where we have theater and then talk to the kids after. It’s how I got started. Kids get starry-eyed,” he said. “It was cool to see myself in them.
Next up for Prince, he will head to New York where he’s got some leads on some acting contracts. Prince said national celebrity Carson Kressley, who plays the devil, has been fun to work with.
“He’s a great person, a very nice man. We’d had good times on stage and off.”
Prince said he has eaten lobster every other day since he’s been here for the play’s run.

Fireball Run Contestants Plot Strategies for Upcoming Race

Leanne Cusimano and Robert Levinstein with their 2006 PT Cruiser, dubbed Ogunquit-a-GoGo

Story and photo by Timothy Gillis
Staff Columnist

The team of Leanne Cusimano and Robert Levinstein have jumped in the Fireball Run race, joining Bill and Valerie Sowles of Yarmouth, and Timber Tina Scheer and Carolann Ouellette of central Maine. Cusimano, who owns Café Amore and Amore Breakfast, and Levinstein, executive producer of 22Q Entertainment in New York City, are trying to raise awareness for missing teen Ajariana Ouftt, from Brockton, Massachusetts.
The new team invited their Maine competitors to dinner last week to share strategies and prepare for the epic, eight-day race.
The Sowles, who will be trying to increase awareness for the search for Aydriana Tetu of Lewiston, joined Cusimano and Levinstein at Amore Breakfast in Ogunquit for some fresh Maine lobster and to share a heaping helping of strategic advice. (Bill Sowles owns Morong Brunswick and Morong Falmouth with his brother, Peter.)
Scheer, a world champion lumberjill, and Ouelette, director of the Maine Office of Tourism, could not make the dinner. Scheer’s nightly lumberjill show and Ouellette’s busy Monday precluded traveling south for the evening. Their team will be raising awareness for the search for Ayla Reynolds, of Waterville.
The new team of Cusimano and Levinstein has had some success already. The first child they were linked with was considered a “cold case.” Levinstein plugged her name into facebook and found her profile. He made a friend request, and was pretty startled to have it accepted a few days later.
“Her page said things like ‘Where are you?’ and ‘What happened?’ so I was pretty sure it was the right child,” Levinstein said. He alerted the organizers of Fireball Run of the discovery, and they connected the team with Ouftt, hoping to help create a greater awareness of her absence.
Levinstein, who was associate producer at Ogunquit Playhouse for six years and stage manager before that, was back in New England for a wedding, so he took the opportunity to link up with his racemate. Even though the Sowles are technically competitors in the race, the four participants shared strategies during the meal, with a constant eye on the real purpose of the contest – to help locate missing and endangered children from all over the country.
The Sowles have also made progress on their search. They talked to Tetu’s mother and discovered that the girl is a runaway and doesn’t want to be found.
“She had leukemia as a child,” Bill Sowles said. “She ran away, they found her and brought her back. She ran away again. Her mother just wants her to go to the hospital for a blood test to find out how she’s doing.”
The teams will begin in Independence, Ohio, and travel more than 2,000 miles in eight days, through fourteen cities. The trip stops in Ogunquit and Sanford on Friday, September 28, and ends in Bangor the next day. They will complete hundreds of missions, locating items of local, historic nature or something from pop culture. The teams race to collect points for achieving a mission, and then find out what the next mission is.
The four talked about using the internet and a network of pre-established friends to help with each task. “We wake up each morning with a CD with our next tasks slipped under our door,” Bill Sowles said.
The first stop on the trip in Jamestown, New York, Cusimano’s birthplace and the hometown of funny lady Lucille Ball. Cusimano’s café and breakfast place are filled with visual references to the comedienne.
The race is also filled with feel-good stories. Thirty-eight children have been located because of Fireball Run’s efforts since its inception in 2007, thirty-nine when you count the recent facebook find.
Last year, the event helped locate twins at a homeless shelter.
“The father of those two children is doing the run this year,” Valerie Sowles said.
Next year, no new racers will be able to join, as the popularity has caused participation to swell to capacity.
“Next year, it will only be for alumni,” Cusimano said. Asked whether or not they will compete in 2013, the two teams seemed focused on making it through this year’s epic road rally first.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Royal Lipizzaner Stallions Perform at Hamilton House

A Royal Lippizzaner that featured at Hamilton House last weekend

Story and photo by C.Ayn Douglass
Staff Columnist

A piece of Historic New England hosted a piece of historic Austria last weekend when Herrmann's Royal Lipizzaner troop appeared at Hamilton House in South Berwick.
Lipizzaners date back to the 16th century and were originally bred from Andalusian and Arabian bloodlines for the Hapsburg royal family of Austria. During World War 11, General George Patton led a dramatic rescue of the horses ahead of the Russian advance, and that story was documented in Disney's “Miracle of the White Stallions.” In keeping with that military tradition, riders are outfitted in military uniforms.
On August 3, 4, and 6, fourteen stallions and seven riders thrilled horse lovers with dramatic and graceful moves on the grounds of Hamilton House. While appearing like a ballet, the intricate formations were developed as part of battlefield strategy.
Rebecca McCullough is a third generation Herrmann - granddaughter of Ottomar Herrmann who brought the stallions to America in the 1960s. She and her mother, Gabriella Herrmann, are on tour from June through October in the northeast and spend the winters at their farm in Myakka City, Florida, teaching riding and dressage. 
“After Patton saved them, the Herrmann family was given a couple of horses,” she said. “We came to America and settled in Vermont and then in Florida. We keep our riders in military-based clothing partly in honor of Patton and his rescue of the horses and partly to make it pretty.”
McCullough said the horses appearing at Hamilton House range in age between seven and twenty-seven years old.  “We use stallions in our shows because they are flashier, and mares and geldings typically aren't. We have a lot of teenagers (horses) in this show,” she said.
While the horses are all stallions, the seven accompanying riders are all women.  “Our family was mostly girls,” McCullough said. “The boys just don't want to do it. They wanted to go play with trucks and stuff.” Three-year old Sydney McCullough, Rebecca's daughter, is already in training to continue the family legacy and travels with the show.
Peggy Wishart, Historic New England site manager in South Berwick, said the Herrmann's Royal Lipizzaner Stallions have performed at another HNE property in Massachusetts.  “Two years ago they approached us to see if there were other sites where they could perform, and we suggested Hamilton House.  It's a fascinating breed and story,” she said.
The show typically spends one week in each location. Their schedule as well as more information can be found at

Local Wood Carver Selected to Teach His Craft

These duck decoys – a blue winged teal pair, hollow wood, painted with artist acrylics -  took 1st and 2nd place at the Ward World Championship this past April. (courtesy photo)

Six Students to Learn to Create Duck Decoys

Jim Higgins, a wood carver from Eliot, is one of fourteen artists from around the country to have been selected as part of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Higgins is to teach six students from Maine and New Hampshire how to carve and paint a working decoy through a project with the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art, Salisbury University.
“I’ve been making decoys forever,” Higgins said. “But I haven’t taught it in probably fifteen, eighteen years.” Higgins said the students were selected by word of mouth.
“It went very quickly. Within hours of finding out I was involved, friends in the business talked to people and filled half the positions. I have a neighbor who was interested.”
Higgins said he was hoping to get some high school kids involved, to help lengthen the tradition by teaching it to the young.
“The youngest is twenty-three (years old), and the oldest is probably quite a bit older than that. I wouldn’t hazard a guess,” he said. “Three of the students have never made a decoy in their life; the other three have a bit of experience.”
Higgins is going to start the classes August 15, teaching two students at a time.
They will spend the next couple of months, creating, carving, and painting wooden duck decoys, and then bring their all their produced artwork down to a show in the fall.
The products are functioning decoys.
“Of the group I have, two of them are duck hunters,” said Higgins, an avid hunter. “Of course, that’s how I came to it. I started making them for myself, back in 1974.”
The Ward Museum was awarded the grant by the N.E.A. to support the project, which is called “Carving Out Future Decoy Makers.” The thirteen other carvers selected to teach are: Jim Burcio, Antioch, CA; Tom Matus, Boise, ID; Billy Pinches, Arcata, CA; Bill Browne, Lincoln, NE; Jason Russell, Gadsden; Mark Schupp, Boonville, MO; Gene Herbert, Houma, LA; Pat Gregory, Bloomington, IL; Rich Smoker, Marion, MD; Bob Hand, Sag Harbor, NY; William Belote, Lewes, DE; Ross Smoker, Selinsgrove, PA; Patrick Eubanks, Farmville, NC and Brian Ballard, Hopkins, MI.
This project intends to help preserve, promote, and present the decoy carving traditions of the United States. This is the sixth year that the National Endowment of the Arts has awarded the Ward Museum a grant to support this project. The first two years were limited to the Mid Atlantic region; it now is expanded to represent the four major migration flyways across the United States. The NEA provides the funding to pay the professional carver’s instructor fee and a stipend for materials. The students have the unique opportunity to learn how to craft a functional hunting decoy from a professional carver at no cost. It is hoped that this experience stimulates the eighty-four students to continue the tradition of decoy making, an original American art form.
Each fall the Ward Museum holds the Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo on the grounds of the museum, next to Schumaker Pond. The Expo is an opportunity for carvers and collectors to meet each other, exhibit their decoys in a public forum, and compete for ribbons and prizes. The decoys completed in this project will be entered into the Chesapeake Challenge held on October 13. Their work will be judged as functional working decoys along side the work of other regional carvers. The instructors will also participate in discussions regarding their efforts to pass their skills and knowledge to their students and their community.
In addition to the Chesapeake Challenge, there are many other activities at the Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo held October 12-13 that promote and preserve waterfowling traditions. On Friday and Saturday the front parking lot becomes a festive Market Place to buy, sell and trade an eclectic mix of fine antique decoys, collectible hunting items, folk art, and antique furniture. Decoy identification and appraisals are available both days.
The museum hosts an Eastern Shore Seafood Feast on Friday evening which is sponsored in part by Chesapeake Utilities.  Special programs follow the pig roast and are of interest to both the collector and contemporary carver.
Saturday is a day of competitions. Collectors enter antique decoys from their collection into the “Old Birds” Antique Decoy Competition. Competitors enter a canvasback into the Contemporary Antique Decoy Competition in which carvings are to resemble those made prior to 1950. There is also a duck head carving competition in which participants are given one and a half hours to complete the carving of a drake hooded merganser head. Each year the species for the above competitions change.
During the Expo, the LaMay Gallery showcases “Great Lakes Decoys and Folk Sculpture.”  The five Great Lakes, in the heartland of North America, have provided natural habitats, easily navigable waterways, and abundant food fresh water since their formation more than 10,000 years ago. Humans and wildlife alike have thrived along the shores of Lakes Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior as well as the smaller St. Clair, which together form the largest system of freshwater lakes in the world. Great Lakes Decoys and Folk Carvings presents many individually-made and commercially-produced wildfowl and fish decoys, patent drawings, and related folk sculpture from Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota, along with a history of exclusive hunt clubs in those regions
The festive atmosphere beckons visitors and competitors. Admission to Expo and the museum are free. Tickets for the Eastern Shore Seafood Feast can be purchased at the museum store. Children’s programs are offered on Saturday. A variety of food and beverages will be for sale on Saturday.
For more information regarding the project “Carving Out Future Decoy Makers” or Chesapeake Wildfowl Expo call the Ward Museum at 410-742-4988, 106 or visit

Daisy’s Children Founder Spends Month in Honduras

Hand-making tortillas to feed more than 100 children (courtesy photo)

One of Noble’s local heroes talks about trip

Story by Sharon Beckwith

“Welcome back.”
“You got some sun.”
“How was your trip?”
“Was it successful?”
“Did you have a good time?”

All genuine questions posed when one returns to Maine from a summer adventure. But how do you answer when you feel like you've traveled through time warps and experienced the unimaginable?
Not a reasonable, pert answer can be readily developed on the fly. Which part do you divulge to the one who asked? Do you describe the rush of hot, humid air as you walk out the airport doors into what often looks like “the land before time?” Perhaps you should smile politely as you describe hand-making authentic tortillas with your daughter to feed more than 100 children. Will this person be able to relate to your tales of traveling down a narrow, mountainous cattle path by car amid the cattle so that you can access food for the hungry children? Then of course there are the cold showers that you actually look forward to as temperatures soar. Let's not forget the tropical thunderstorms which look and sound like those on the television at home, as the electricity goes out yet again, and you watch the mountain road outside wash away in a sea of brown rapids. Will you spend another early morning sweeping mud and water out of the rooms of the guarderia?
Can you impart the joy as you see once malnourished children laughing, playing, or in their uniforms preparing to walk to school after breakfast? Will they understand the humility and pride as you are asked to speak as the voice of the village children by the mayor during negotiations with a neighboring mayor who refuses to allow road access, access that could mean life or death to a child? Will they believe your witnessing of life in a typical hospital in which two women post-Caesarian shared a single bed with their two newborns as well?
And so unfolds my true-life journey. I’m  a local kindergarten teacher, and this is a familiar journey for me, as I travel to the village of Concepcion del Norte, Santa Barbara, Honduras at least twice a year. What began as a trip to aid a travel group in 2007, has now become so much more. Daisy's Children, named after Deysi Suyapa Madrid Chavez, is a non-profit organization which strives to provide sustenance, clean drinking water, education, and medical intervention within this and surrounding villages.
In 2008, I returned to the village again to serve as medical support. Using my former career as a nurse to support a group for a week seemed like a reasonable thing to do. Just prior to traveling, a story reached me that confirmed why I should go. A young woman in the village had recently died, leaving behind several children. She had died because she opted to not eat so what little she had could be fed to her children. Little did anyone realize what my first meeting with these three children would bring to all that it has touched through an initial photograph and the voice brought to it. 
What began as the urge to feed three has evolved, through the help of many, into a guarderia or daycare center, as we in the states would refer to it, that now feeds 119 children two meals and a snack, Monday through Friday. I got to spend ample time aiding the four women from the village who run “Casa Verde” - as the locals refer to it - as a well-oiled machine. Also, my daughter Ashley and I were able to coordinate a parents day in which all parents came to answer some vital questions to allow Daisy's Children to develop valid statistics surrounding family structure, education level of parents, as well as current height, weight, and photographs. Acute awareness pierced the air as we listened to parents struggle to recall ages or birthdates of their children. This was emphasized even further as parents and grandparents alike completed the forms with three Xs as their signature.
So many poignant images come to mind as I try to recall twenty-four days spent amongst these people that I have developed such strong ties to. Happy faces bringing roadside flowers and love notes. People who truly have nothing brought me gifts of avocadoes and mangoes. One of the most concerning 'littles' brought me a red plastic bracelet in gratitude, and it still sits on my wrist to remind me of those I leave behind each time. And then I remember the moment that strikes my core each time I recall it: the tears welling in the eyes of a mother who tells me how proud she is to now have the opportunity alongside her husband to work selling firewood - work that makes her heart swell with pride because she was able to buy a small wooden table and a mattress for her family of seven. The children no longer have to sleep on the cold earth floor.
Each step I take on this side of such a trip makes me aware of every blessing I have, including the group of 119 children who call me by name from wherever they are in the village, making each time I tell the story, and each moment I spend conjuring up the next fundraiser worth ten times the effort.
We are currently formulating a group to join us in February of 2013 to aid us in transforming a dilapidated two-room school house into a functional space to house a study center for our older children, as well as a site for high school equivalency studies and a future English as a Second Language Center. The completion of this project will lead to our acquisition of the adjoining land to build our permanent guarderia as well as a vocational center. We have hosted multiple groups prior to this and even serve as an annual Alternative Spring Break setting for Northeastern University. For more information, we suggest you read our blog and preview our Volunteer Handbook, both available on our website at To contact me directly, email me

Friday, August 3, 2012

Marshwood Teacher Wins Age Group in Ironman Triathlon

Science Instructor is 2nd in Amateur Division, 6th Best Overall

Vinny Johnson (courtesy photo)

By Timothy Gillis
Staff Columnist

Vinny Johnson, a science teacher at Marshwood High School, finished first in his age group (35-39), second in the amateur division, and sixth overall in the Ironman Triathlon, held two weeks ago in Lake Placid, New York.
The Ironman is a grueling race, one of a series of long-distance triathlons organized by the World Triathlon Corporation and consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a marathon 26.2-mile run, raced in that order and without a break.
Johnson, who instructs students in biology and anatomy courses, said he uses what he teaches in the classroom when he is out on the race courses.
“People say they have a feel for the race; I don’t,” Johnson said. “I have an analytical approach to it. Everything is planned out, even the amount of carbohydrates I need.”
Things often have a way of changing doing the race, Johnson said.
“At end of race, though, I have a sense of trusting myself. Sometimes it can backfire, but for the most part, it gets me to a performance I feel like I’m capable of.”
He also returns the exchange and takes his triathlon experience into the classroom. So many high school classes are about rote memorization, he said, so he tries to infuse his lessons with real examples from his body’s chemical changes during such an exerting race.
“Remember high school? You were usually made to memorize charts and tables<” he said. “I try to use myself as an example, to have students note reactions in the body to tie into real life.” Johnson said he uses such personal examples as heart rate data over the course of a race to illustrate the way the body reacts to adverse conditions. He also covers such topics as nutrition and how it can help an athlete perform better.
“I try to tie in my own, real-world experience in class,” he said.
Johnson’s results meant that he qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii, but he declined the spot.
“Instead, this allows me to pursue the professional license, allows me to race as a pro.”
Johnson, who has taught at Marshwood for thirteen years, is already gearing up for his next race, a “half Ironman” called Rev3 in Old Orchard Beach on Sunday, August 26. This race features a 1.2 mile swim at OOB, a 56-mile bike ride inland towards Buxton and back, and a 13.1 mile run to top it off.

Triathlon from the POV of a Champion
Johnson has written extensively, from a first-person point of view about his recent race.
“We do that so people can read through it and get the planning and mindframe that goes into it,” he said. “It’s not about just going out there and running as fast as you can. It takes planning, knowing what you’re actually capable of and (being able to) execute that, instead of trying to keep up with someone you shouldn’t be.”

Here are some excerpts from his writing, which can be found at

Ironman Lake Placid 2012
“Coming out of Ironman Florida, I had a whole new confidence level for my run segment. After checking out both mentally and physically on the first half of the bike leg in Florida, I was able to snap out of it. Snapping out of it meant, doing a bit of an experiment on the fly. I wanted to destroy my legs on the bike, and see how they would hold up for the duration of the marathon. Needless to say, they held up. As a result I gained a sense that regardless of how I felt coming off of the bike my run would be there.
Fast forward 8 months, and I was starting to taper down for Ironman Lake Placid. The training had been great. I didn't focus on working harder, I just focused on recovering harder. This focus allowed me to maintain a consistent effort level on the days that counted. I never faded, never felt like I “didn't have it,” never bonked. I'm not saying it was easy, and I enjoyed every minute, but when I had to dig deep it was there.”

Swim: Lined up right next to the dock, on the start line. Figured there would be some fast feet in that location, but once the chatter started about swim times I realized I was going to miss out on the front group. I’m never right up there, but at least able to hang on to the back of the lead pack. Cannon went off, and swam as fast as I could for 400 yds, the whole time seeing a group take off towards the middle of the field. That 400 hurt, almost too much. I was struggling just to keep the arms moving after such a violent effort.
Swim time. 53:24 1:23/100m AG rank: 2 OA rank: 21

Bike: Heart rate was through the roof, but with the terrain and heat it wasn’t going to be about heart rate on the bike. The ability to make a hilly course flat is key to a great run coming off of a tough bike leg. So today it was all about wattage. I figured I would be able to hold 225-235 watts and then run a 3:15 marathon. When you ride and run for over 8 hours over the course of every weekend for the last 6 months, you can figure that kind of stuff out. Every 5 minutes fluids went in, every aid station two bottles of water would be poured all over me, every 30 minutes fuel went in. Salt tabs at the 2 hr mark, and 4 hr mark. 98 grams of carbs/hour, 772 mg’s of salt/hour. Ironman racing can be more like a science experiment than any else, and I like science experiments! As we know, science experiments are only valid if they have been tested over and over again with the same results.
Bike : 5:19:53 21.0mph AG rank: 3 OA rank: 13

Run: Came out like I got shot out of a cannon. This is my segment. This is where I feel confident. This is where I can dig deep, run angry, run with a chip on my shoulder. So this is where I was going to make this thing happen. This is where I was going to get to that ledge and go for it. I knew, no matter how horrible I feel, I can run. As we made our way down Main St., all I could remember was QT2 coach Pat Wheeler walking towards me, almost felt as if he was going to jump in front of me, and he yelled “Slow Down”!!!! I just remember thinking, not today.
Then I realized, I had just covered .1 miles, and had 26.1 to go. That .1 felt fast, and for the fist time, I did feel like I dug deep, worked a bit too hard. I had 3 hrs plus left of running, so figured slowing down was some great advice, and did. As a result I watched as images of the racers in front of me got farther and farther from me. So I backed off the ledge, and didn’t go for it. Figured that last 6 miles might require some ledge jumping, so I would save it for then.
Run: 3:11:16 AG rank: 1 OA rank: 6

I thought if I had an OK day, I would go under 9:50. A solid day, around 9:40. An epic day would get me under 9:40. I had an epic x2 kind of day
9:32:58 1st in AG, 2nd OA amateur, and 6th OA.

I only found this out as I sat in the corner of the changing tent, by myself, looking at the results on my iphone. Still in shock, I called Brooke. Not much could be said due to the emotion of the moment. What people see as results on paper gives no justice to the amount sacrifice that goes into a “time” you get on race day.

I’m not going to Kona. I declined my slot. I knew going into this event, I wasn’t going to go due to too many variables that just didn’t make it the right choice this year. However, due to the stars aligning just right, I did earn the right to gain a pro card for the next few years. This is an opportunity that I will cash in on. This will allow me to race with more flexibility, and get to more races. That is what attracts me to the pro level. What I will lose, is the ability to get to Kona over the next few years. To get there at the pro level, under my circumstances is impossible. Impossible are odds I like, and need, to further improve myself as an athlete, coach and person. So bring on impossible!”

Kittery Youngsters Serve Local Seniors a Lobster Luncheon

Lauren Welch and Olivia McCray of the Kittery Recreation Department's Adventure Program helped serve at the department’s Senior Lobster Luncheon held on Thursday, July 26. (courtesy photo)

Nearly 100 Kittery area seniors armed themselves with bibs and crackers to enjoy the 10th Annual Kittery Recreation Senior Lobster Luncheon.  Although rain threatened in the morning, Mother Nature prevailed, providing weather suitable to chow down. Held outdoors at Frisbee Common, which is the Kittery Rec Department and the Kittery Community Center’s new home, the luncheon turned out to be a great opportunity to share friendships and enjoy a wonderful lobster lunch.
An annual event that offers the area’s seniors a chance to eat a generous portion of lobster or chicken, corn on the cob, potato salad, clam chowder, and strawberry shortcake, the Lobster Luncheon is enjoyed by all who attend.
One portion of the event that continues to evolve and flourish is the relationship between the seniors and the participants in the Kittery Recreation Department’s Adolescent Adventure Program. 
Thirty-one youngsters, in grades 5 through 8, served as waitstaff for the lobsterfest.
“Some of the kids came in with aprons, others were dressed in black, like they worked in a restaurant,” said Jeremy Paul, assistant director of Kittery Recreation Department. “They really got into it this year.”
The kids have helped out for nine of the ten years the department has been hosting the luncheon. They serve the seniors drinks and chowder and don’t stop until the last cup of strawberry shortcake is finished. 
“The first year, we tried to do it with our staff of four or five, but we were overwhelmed,” Paul said.
What once began as a meal for seniors has truly turned into an intergenerational afternoon of friendship.
The success of the event would not be possible without the extreme generosity of several local businesses who donated lobsters and more. 
The following businesses all made donations for this community building event:
Greenhead Lobster Company, Island Seafood, Chrissy D. Lobster Company, Seaview Lobster, Taylor Lobster, Marshall Rental Center, and P Gagnon and Son. Weathervane Seafoods donated all of the chowder, corn on the cob, chicken, bibs, crackers, and more.

Student from Kennebunk Does Specialized Research with her College Professor

Kennebunk native Amelie Jensen, conducting research in Vermont (courtesy photo)
Amelie Jensen , daughter of Arleen and John Jensen of Kennebunk, was one of 46 Saint Michael's College students to be awarded grants to do research with a professor this summer. Jensen, a senior biology major, graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland before attending Saint Michael's College, which is located in Burlington, Vermont.
Jensen is carrying out a project titled U.S. Fish & Wildlife internship, and working with
Professor Doug Facey, head of the biology department at St, Mike’s.
“I’m getting as lot of field experience,” Jensen said this week from Vermont. “I’m also working with Leah Szafranski, a member of the US fish & wildlife in Essex Junction, who was contracted to do this monitoring project.”
Jensen and her partners are monitoring trees that were planted in the Lake Champlain watershed over the last twenty years to help with erosion and watershed quality.
“So we are going back and looking at these trees and seeing how they’re doing,” she said. “We’re looking at the success of these planting projects to see what works best.
Jensen said that, especially after Hurricane Irene, a lot of these streams have flooded and destroyed the banks. She is receiving a paid internship through the grant, and gets better-priced housing at St. Mike’s during the summer.
Next year after she graduates, she’d like to get some more experience in the field of biology, she said.
“I just spent last semester immersed in biology. Right now, I’m just trying to get a feel for what type of specialty I want to go into after school.”
Jensen is not all brains; she has plenty of brawn as well.
She  is president of the college’s Women’s Rugby Club.
“I've been playing since 2010. It is not a varsity sport. We do have a coach, but it is mostly student run. We have different officer positions such as public relations, treasurer, captain, match secretary and president,” she explains. “Last fall I was match secretary so I was in charge of organizing games with other teams, getting meals for away games and bringing the necessary things for games such as jerseys, food and medical supplies. This season I will be president so I am the liaison between our team, or coach and the school. I will be in charge of more logistical items.”
For her position, Jensen plays the second row in the scrum. She says that, although biology and rugby may seem worlds apart, they are actually quite comparable.
“There certainly is a correlation between my position as an officer on my rugby team and my job now. In both positions, it is important to be organized,” she said. “With rugby, it really helps when scheduling team activities and games. At work, we are collecting a lot of data every day, so it is important to have a system and keep things organized. Communication between my rugby team, coach and other officers is key and also at work. Again, in the field collecting data, it is important to communicate clearly with everyone I'm working with… In both instances tackling one job (or one player!) works much better when people work together. We could never finish our whole summer monitoring project alone, and I could never win a rugby game alone.”
Her school’s administration is proud of the work Jensen has done, on the field and out in it.
“Undergraduate research is a natural extension of some of Saint Michael's College's most strongly-held beliefs as an educational institution,” said Dr. Karen Talentino, SMC vice president for Academic Affairs. “We believe that close student-faculty interaction facilitates learning and student development,” said Talentino, herself a biologist.
The research happening at the college ranges from environmental data collection with the Vermont EPSCoR Streams project to surveying Vermont's workforce in an effort to increase the effectiveness of the Workforce Investment Act. Funding also has been provided by the college's summer fellowship program, the Vermont Genetics Network, the National Science Foundation, SMC alumni funds for research and other sources.
The wide range of research happening at the college includes, along with scientific research, history studies, and social science research, such as a study of the Impact of Technology on Religious Concepts of Community.
“We expect our faculty to pursue scholarly and research activities in order to inform their teaching and to contribute to their disciplines,” Talentino said. “We try to facilitate the growth of each student in all dimensions, and to prepare them to be lifelong learners.” She said working with faculty, who are themselves researchers, is one of the best experiences a liberal arts education provides to students.