Classroom Projects

Final project for CMJ 493: Framing the Penobscot River Restoration Project

A frame analysis of news articles pertaining to the Penobscot River Restoration Project as part of a final group project for CMJ 493: Environmental Communication. This was a group project in collaboration with Margaret Bouchard, Derek Douglass, Diyyinah Jamora, and Chase Brunton.

A Hidden Art

Final project for CMJ 351: Multimedia Production

It’s often said that there is no such thing like a true Maine winter—harsh, cold and with plenty of snow. When it comes to winter at the University of Maine, tensions often ride high when campus residents and commuters find themselves snowed-in or snowed-off campus. While many students contest the university’s Facilities Management department lags in cleaning parking lots and sidewalks of snow, further investigation reveals that there is more to campus winter management than meets the eye. Geremy Chubbuck, director of Facilities Management maintenance and operations for the university, detailed these efforts in an interview and early morning ride-around in a plow truck. Although he did not wish for his likeness — face, voice or other identifying features — to be used in the video, he revealed the staggering numbers and costs associated with winter cleanup. There are over 16 miles of sidewalks on campus and seven-and-a-half miles of roads. The university must haul away the snow to an off-campus dump, per Environmental Protection Agency regulations, and must then restore this dump to its original condition at the end of the season. Over 600 cubic yards of rock salt are used annually, and most of it is laid on the university’s over 2.8 million square feet of parking lots. They only receive $550,000 to do all of this, and it’s all done before most people wake up. Chubbuck described his job as much more than pushing snow. Between coordinating vehicles and staff members, planning for the storm using doppler radar and creating plow routes and paying for all of it, it’s an involved process that requires time, patience and skill. “It’s an art,” he said.

Fire and Ice

Audio slideshow in collaboration with Amanda Curtis

What do ancient volcanoes, polar ice, modern storms and a Texan all have in common?

A lot more than you might think.

Donna “Teye” Kalteyer, a University of Maine graduate student and research assistant who is researching the cryptotephra particles trapped in the ice at our planet’s poles, is trying to make the connection.

Tephra are the particles in volcanic ash released into the air during an eruption. Cryptotephra are very small volcanic ash particles that become trapped in ice after large volcanic eruptions. Kalteyer explains that, because the atmosphere is thinner at the equator, volcanic tephra particles, especially cryptotephra, can float above the Earth for upward of three years while simultaneously travelling great distances by wind.

Their destination? Anywhere, but Kalteyer is focusing on the cryptotephra found in ice. This cryptotephra can be radiocarbon dated to refine dates on major volcanic eruptions throughout the planet’s history.

By looking at ice core samples taken at the poles, Kalteyer hopes to identify major storm events over the last 800,000 years. Climatologists can observe how the Earth responded in these past events by looking at the paleoclimate record, which can help them better predict future climate change scenarios, according to Kalteyer.

“Humans have only been recording climate events for the past, at most, 500 years,” she said. “But we can actually look physically at the chemicals in an ice core and figure out what happened with the weather and with the climate.”

She hopes her research will be used to further understand past weather events so we can better understand today’s, bridging the gap in knowledge over the last 800,000 years.

“[Tephra] creates a time-linked layer, globally or regionally,” she said. “I just think it’s really cool.”

Correction Note: Ms. Kalteyer has noted she misspoke in saying the atmosphere was thinnest at the equator. She has told us the atmosphere is actually thickest at the equator, stating she’s, “aware that the atmosphere is actually thickest at the equator, but her enthusiasm outpaced her editor.”

Just Listen: The Peaceful Fight Against Domestic Violence

Audio Report on domestic violence in Maine, nation

Music: “Blue,” Rob Simonsen

It’s the topic none of us really want to talk about.

Domestic violence may be an incredibly personal issue, but by not talking about it, we aren’t helping to end it. That’s why Katie Hathaway and Shaunna Peard, both University of Maine business students, worked together to take charge and lead the effort in stopping the issue, once and for all.

Together with the Maine Business School Corps, they organized UMaine’s first March Against Domestic violence, which drew a crowd of nearly 200 students and faculty. Led by Dr. Robert Dana and Bananas the Bear, the march swept across the University Mall before ending at the steps of Fogler Library.

At the event, UMaine president Susan Hunter addressed the crowd. “Domestic violence and sexual assault are serious and continuing problems on campuses and in our community,” she said. She discussed efforts by the Obama Administration to combat domestic violence, quoting President Obama in saying, “You are not alone. We have your back. I have your back.”

“No one in this community is alone,” she said of the university community and the Bangor/Orono/Old Town area. “We are very committed to providing a safe community, so together — and I mean it, it takes all of us together to do this — we can make a difference in stopping domestic violence and sexual assault.”

I was in attendance at the event, and spoke with not only its coordinators but also students, and faculty and community members with expertise in women’s issues. All said that solidarity was important; all said that now is the time to move past acknowledging there’s a problem; and all said that now is the time to take action against domestic violence.

And the way to start? Just listen.

Farm-to-Table; A College to the Community

Returning healthy, locally-grown foods back to the community food system

For 20 years, University of Maine students have been bridging the gap between farm-to-table in their local community. Now, the Black Bear Food Guild — like its ever-changing harvest — continues to grow, supplying fresh, organic vegetables to 65 shareholders from the surrounding towns.

The Guild, as it is casually known, is a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program that took root in 1994 when sustainable agriculture students wanted to actively engage with their studies and “get their hands dirty,” says Dr. Eric Gallandt, director of the Guild and professor of weed ecology at the university. Now, what started as a mere supplement to the sustainable agriculture curriculum has grown into a focal point of the program.

“It’s an opportunity for students who want to learn how to farm,” Gallandt says.

For sustainable agriculture students Lindy Morgan, 28,  and Laura Goldshein, 26, there’s more to it than that. For them, it’s about reaffirming their love for what they do.

“I would say that the significant thing that I’ve gotten out of this experience is finding out whether or not I want to be a farmer for the rest of my life,” Goldshein says. “And the answer is, absolutely, yes.”

Although, they admit, it’s no easy task. The two farmers were set back by the sudden departure of one of their crew in early July. Left to run the entire 3-acre farm for the majority of the summer and now for the fall – working from about 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or later in the blistering heat – the two worked to establish the farm as certified organic by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

And they wouldn’t trade it in for anything else.

“We are actually the only completely student-run CSA in the country. No other schools have this program, not even other land grant universities,” Goldshein says. “It’s just a really special chance to experience things on a smaller scale before sort of taking the leap on your own and starting a farm.”

“They’re making all of the choices,” Gallandt says. “That’s very different from programs at other universities.”

Their hard work does not go unnoticed, however. There is a reciprocal benefit that comes from managing a CSA. The students learn about principles of farm management, soil quality and organic pest control, and the real reward goes out to the community — the shareholders who take stock in the Guild and support its existence. In return for their dedication, they receive healthy, organic vegetables grown right at home: Farm-to-table at its finest.

“There’s something about actually knowing your farmer really well that makes you realize where your food’s coming from, and supporting your community as well as supporting the student program,” Gallandt says.

In addition to growing over 35 varieties of vegetables this past season – including their most popular: cucumbers, tomatoes, summer and winter squash – Morgan and Goldshein sold all of the shares in the farm, mapped out the fields and installed irrigation systems, maintained the Guild’s Facebook page and email accounts and established a record keeping system.

All technicalities aside, Morgan and Goldshein love their jobs because they know their work makes people happy.

“They work their asses off all week long and twice a week they have these people coming in with smiling faces and kids,” Gallandt says. “They’re high-motivated to work hard because, no matter what, on Tuesday afternoon there’s a bunch of people coming to pick up stuff.”

And, yes, they admit they’re pretty proud of the work they’ve done.

“I was pleasantly surprised that, in spite of it just being the two of us and the weeds being so out of control and various problems with just sort of the farm infrastructure, that we not only made it through but we did a really good job, I would like to think,” Goldshein says, looking out at amber fields as the sun begins to set.

BBMC to Students and Beyond