New logo celebrates Somerset County natural resources

SKOWHEGAN – When Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District decided to update its logo, it had a good sense of where to look.

Knowing the vibrancy of the region’s arts community, the District worked with Mary Haley at Main Street Skowhegan and Wesserunsett Arts Council to craft a call for submissions for a logo design contest.  The contest yielded a host of submissions from all around the region.

“It was remarkable to see the different creative expressions of our conservation mission,” says Jennifer Brockway, the District’s outreach coordinator.  “We provided guidance on desired elements, and the participating artists showed tremendous diversity in their designs.”

In April, a design submitted by Crista Lavenson of Belgrade was selected as the winner.

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Lavenson is Marketing & Communications Manager at the Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCA of Greater Waterville at the Alfond Youth Center. The versatile logo will be used across all District publications and materials, as well as online and on hats and t-shirts.

“We are really pleased with the whole process. The District’s intent with the redesign of the logo was to create an image that was reflective of Somerset County’s diverse natural resources and agricultural producers,” says Joe Dembeck, the District’s executive director. “As a District, we are a locally focused organization that focuses on providing assistance to address local natural resource management needs; therefore, a logo representing this focus was considered to be important.”

The new logo and information about the District’s programs and services may be found online at www.SomersetSWCD.org and on the District’s Facebook page.  For more information phone 207-474-8323 x3 or email somersetswcd.outreach@gmail.com .

Newport designer takes bird conservation program to new heights

SKOWHEGAN – It is almost time for grassland birds to return to Somerset County, and a collaborative project at Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District is gearing up for a third season of fledgling success stories. 

 The District’s Ag Allies project works with landowners across the state to include grassland bird nesting opportunities in the management of open lands.  And thanks to a recent collaboration with Jim Miller of Miller Signs & Graphics of Newport, the project has a new logo.

 Featuring a bobolink, an iconic sight in hayfields each spring, the logo was the winning entry in the District’s recent logo design contest.  The logo will be used on all project materials, including a new sign recognizing participating landowners.  

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 “The new Ag Allies logo helps to provide recognition and unity to farmers and landowners who are working with the program to integrate nesting habitat with forage and recreational needs of their grasslands,” says Laura Suomi-Lecker, Somerset County SWCD technical coordinator. 

 Bobolinks, meadowlarks, and sparrow species - which are suffering rapid population declines - require undisturbed hayfields for nesting.  Hay harvesting occurs earlier and more frequently in recent decades, often coinciding with the nesting period.  Fields not used for forage production are often cut during nesting timeframe, too.  Thus, the human impact on grassland bird breeding success is significant and results in widespread nesting failure across much of Maine’s habitat each year.

Through Ag Allies, Suomi-Lecker provides field managers and landowners across the state the technical support needed to make best-fit management changes that give grassland birds the opportunity for nesting success.  In 2018, more than 450 acres were enrolled in the program, including lands managed by dairy, beef, horse and sheep farmers, land trusts, and non-agricultural landowners.  The project received several national grants for this year’s work, including The Cornell Lab - Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative, Blake-Nuttall Fund of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, and the William P. Wharton Trust.

To learn more about the project and how to participate, contact the Somerset SWCD at 207-474-8323 x3, email info@somersetswcd.org or visit www.SomersetSWCD.org.

Conservation District Announces 2019 Outstanding Farmer Award

SKOWHEGAN – The Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce that Tim Hewett of Skowhegan has been named the 2019 Outstanding Farmer.

Skowhegan Farmer Tim Hewett, 2019 Outstanding Farmer, with helper Kadin.  Laura Suomi-Lecker photo.

Skowhegan Farmer Tim Hewett, 2019 Outstanding Farmer, with helper Kadin. Laura Suomi-Lecker photo.

Tim grew up on a dairy farm and has been running his own diversified farm in Skowhegan for 30 years, producing and selling hay, corn, cattle, compost, maple syrup and wood.  Tim is constantly re-defining his farming operation, with an eye to adding diversity and improving sustainability on his farm. 

 “Tim’s attitude of stewardship and care of the land shine through in his farm management,” says Laura Suomi-Lecker, technical director at Somerset SWCD. “He has found a way to balance his financial needs with the health of the land, creating a sustainable operation that will serve him as well as future generations.”

 Tim was the first to sign up in 2014 for a Somerset SWCD project with USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) providing financial and technical assistance to landowners to add cover crops and reduce tillage on their farms.  After that initial project, Tim continued to focus on soil health on his farm, experimenting with his cover cropping, no till and crop rotation strategies.  Tim also manages his woodland and is slated to do a crop tree release for improved forest stand health. 

 In 2018, Tim became a first-time participant in the Somerset SWCD’s Ag Allies grassland bird project.  The program works with farmers managing fields with high grassland bird populations, such as bobolinks, where hay harvest can be delayed until after the young have fledged in early July.  Tim enrolled a 30-acre field in the program, allowing large groups of bobolinks as well as savannah sparrows to be successfully reared in the field. 

 “You have to be open to trying new things,” says Tim. “What I like about farming, is that you can always try to make it better, and that is what makes it interesting.  If you can make it better after you make a mistake, then you are happy.”

 The Outstanding Farmer and Outstanding Woodland Owner awards will be presented at the Somerset County SWCD Annual Dinner at 6 PM Thursday, April 25 at the Canaan Farmers Hall.  Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal is scheduled to speak at the event, which also includes a locally sourced dinner prepared by Radici Cucina of Skowhegan.  Seating is limited and tickets must be purchased by April 18 at the SWCD office located at 70 East Madison Road in Skowhegan.  A ticket mail order form is available online at www.SomersetSWCD.org.  For more information, phone 207-474-8323 x 3 or email somersetswcd.outreach@gmail.com.  

 

Conservation District Announces Woodland Owners of the Year

Bob and Mary Burr of Mercer are the 2019 Woodland Owners of the Year at Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District. The award will be presented at the SWCD Annual Dinner, April 25 at Canaan Farmers Hall. Contributed photo.

Bob and Mary Burr of Mercer are the 2019 Woodland Owners of the Year at Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District. The award will be presented at the SWCD Annual Dinner, April 25 at Canaan Farmers Hall. Contributed photo.

SKOWHEGAN – The Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce that Mary and Bob Burr of Blue Ribbon Farm, Mercer, are the 2019 Outstanding Woodland Owners.

The Burrs have been actively managing their woodlands since 1976 and have been part of the Tree Farm family for more than 40 years.  Through the years they have had a variety of commercial timber harvests, annually harvested firewood, thinned stands, and improved the complexity of wildlife habitat on the property.  Some of these efforts have been conducted with assistance of USDA-NRCS contracts while others have been performed on their own initiative.

While they work in their woods in all seasons, they particularly enjoy being active in the fall.  Bob’s love for the forest began in the 1960s when he was working for Jim and Sandra Pottle in Perry; the Pottles twice won the Maine Tree Farmer of the Year award.  

 In addition to the management activities conducted by the Burrs, they have also sponsored several forestry workshops organized by Maine Woodland Owners.  The Burrs have been ardent supporters of the organization for years, attending the annual meeting and potluck.  They have sponsored that event the last two years at their restaurant, 122 Corson.

 The Outstanding Woodland Owners and Outstanding Farmer awards will be presented at the Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District Annual Dinner at 6 PM Thursday, April 25 at the Canaan Farmers Hall.  Maine Dept. of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal is scheduled to speak at the event, which also includes a locally sourced dinner prepared by Radici Cucina of Skowhegan.  Seating is limited and tickets must be purchased by April 18 at the SWCD office located at 70 East Madison Road in Skowhegan.  A ticket mail order form is available online at www.SomersetSWCD.org.  For more information, phone 207-474-8323 x 3 or email somersetswcd.outreach@gmail.com.   

Calling All Creatives! Logo Contest Deadline Extended

We are excited to announce that the deadline for submissions has been extended 2 weeks! Please submit your designs no later than Friday, March 15.

The Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District is pleased to announce we are looking for not one but two new logos in 2019!

Recognizing the strong creative community of Somerset County, we seek submissions from the public for: a new logo for the organization, and for the first-ever logo for our Ag Allies Grassland Bird Project.

The winning Ag Allies logo will be used on publications, digital media and signage that relate to our grassland bird project launched in 2016.  Visit the Ag Allies Project page on our Web site to learn more about this growing program and the farmers and grassland birds it supports.

The new organization logo will be used on our digital media, letterhead, publications, and staff clothing and should therefore represent Somerset SWCD’s work to increase good stewardship of our natural resources. More information about our work may be found on our Web site and Facebook page.

The Somerset County SWCD will award a $250 honorarium to the creator of each winning logo in appreciation for the contribution to our work and community. Full contest details may be downloaded here.

There is no limit to the number of entries you may submit, but entries must be submitted no later than March 15, 2019. The Somerset SWCD staff and Board of Supervisors will select the winning entries. For more information, contact Jennifer at 207-679-7306 or by email at somersetswcd.outreach@gmail.com.

Thank You Students!

Our technical director Laura Suomi-Lecker enjoys sharing her love of birds as a volunteer with Avian Haven. A recent grammar school visit netted the most wonderful thank you cards. Hats off to the staff and students of Thomaston Elementary! On Dec. 14 Laura travels to Hampden Academy to share her Unleaded Loons presentation with the environmental science class, which is studying a water quality unit to finish the year.

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Conservation District Seeks Public Input on Services

SKOWHEGAN – The Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District is conducting a brief survey of Somerset County residents and landowners to assist in the development of programs and services.  Everyone who completes the survey will have the opportunity to enter a drawing for a $100 gift card at Campbell’s Agway-True Value. 

The survey will take just five (5) to ten (10) minutes to complete but will inform District programs and services for the coming years.   All residents and landowners of Somerset County are encouraged to complete the brief online survey, located at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Somerset2018.  To request a paper copy, visit the Somerset County SWCD at 70 East Madison Rd. in Skowhegan, email somersetswcd.outreach@gmail.com or call 207-679-7306. 

Education and Outreach are at the core of the District’s mission. Through these avenues the District provides farmers, woodland owners and residents with information and techniques that protect the soil, water and natural resources of Somerset County.  Currently the District provides a host of educational workshops and outreach events that cover topics ranging from forestry management, pollinator habitat planning, wildlife habitat, soil health, and invasive plant/forest pest species.  Nearly all these efforts have partners that may include state agencies, federal agencies, nonprofits, Maine Association of Conservation Districts (MACD) and other Districts.

Annually the District endeavors to provide diverse and numerous activities desired by the different groups that it serves.  Programs that are successful are repeated in following years, while those that are not, are reworked or replaced by new programs.  Survey participants will be assisting the District to better focus programs and services for Somerset County residents.

For more information about current programs and services, visit the Somerset County SWCD on Facebook, online at www.somersetswcd.org or call 207-474-8323.

 

District Supervisor Elections

Persons desiring to run for the office of District Supervisor for the Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District should contact the District office at 70 East Madison Road, Skowhegan ME 04976, telephone (207) 474-8323, to obtain nomination papers. Nomination papers must be received at the District office no later than October 26, 2018. Persons wishing to vote in the election of District Supervisor must contact the District to receive a ballot.

Persons who desire to run for office of Supervisor must be a resident registered voter residing within the boundaries of the Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District. All registered voters within the boundaries of the Somerset County Soil and Water Conservation District are eligible to vote.

Additional information may be obtained by contacting the District.

Local Partnership Nets National Grant Award

SKOWHEGAN, ME – A winged ally of Maine farmers is the focus of a new partnership between the Somerset County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Damariscotta River Association. 

A $5,000 grant from the 2018 Cornell Land Trust Small Grants Program will support the Ag Allies program, a project to educate Maine citizens and work with local farmers and land trusts to provide much-needed safe nesting habitat for steeply declining populations of grassland bird species.  Read more