UMF AmeriCorps Volunteer Team Plans Several Events for January

Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter

This year UMF has served as a host site for a team of AmeriCorps volunteers, made up of both past and present students, advocating for energy efficiency on campus and in the community. UMF Alum Vanessa Berry and Ben Rodriguez are part of the volunteer team who have been preparing for a few events AmeriCorps will be hosting in January.

According to Berry, Energy Efficiency Coordinator, the first event being held is a community energy forum and will be taking place on January 20th, with the location still to be announced. “It’s going to be informative for homeowners… mostly just giving educational materials that can help get people connected with local businesses and resources within the community,” said Berry.

The second event takes place the first Saturday after students return from break on January 27th from 9am to 1pm in the North Dining Hall. The AmeriCorps team will be partnering with United Way to build weatherizing window panels that will be installed in the homes of low-income families in Franklin County in effort to reduce fuel costs and making home more energy efficient as the winter approaches.

“It’s a four hour session, about three hours of it is actual work, and then the last hour is tear down and free potluck dinner,” said Berry. “A few off campus commuter students will be receiving these panels, and helping build them, so there are a lot of stakeholders involved in this project… On average, each window panel insert installed per home saves a save a gallon of oil a season, per square foot of panel.”

Rodriguez, Energy Efficiency Community Specialist, says he particularly enjoys the window building sessions. “They are just a great way to engage with the wider community. You see participants who are just volunteering their time, and you also have individuals who are receiving these panels attending the building sessions. It’s great to be able to work alongside everyone and then sit down and have a meal with them.”

The final event planned will take place Monday the 29th from 4pm to 8pm, also in the North Dining Hall. Berry says the AmeriCorps team planned this event in hopes that students and faculty who are done with their classes for the day will be able to participate. Dinner will be included for this event as well. “It is a great event for anyone interested in getting service hours,” said Berry.

Thanks to a grant written by Maine Campus Compact, who started an initiative under the Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship, creating six hosts sites, including UMF, to carry out services like those provided by this volunteer team, Berry says she feels she is able to make a more personal impact in her community. “The way we doing things is really site specific because we have different communities with different environments and people who all have different needs and finances to work with, who all can use support from the services we provide,” said Berry.

“We’ve also got a great network at UMF and they have been really supportive,” says Berry. “An example of that is just this week we were tabling to get donations to supply kits for low income families who are receiving our window panels for free, but we didn’t have any money in out grant to supply any other weatherization supplies, things like caulking guns and weather stripping… just the small stuff that creates a big change in the comfort of somebody’s home. Just from asking students for pocket change, we came up with almost $70 yesterday, and today a little of $87. The general support from the Farmington community in order to get projects done, is overwhelming.”

Berry graduated from UMF with an education degree in December of 2015 and was also a member of the Sustainable Campus Coalition for three years where she worked with Luke Kellett, the host site supervisor for AmeriCorps at UMF, before taking on this full-time position.

Rodriguez, quarter-time AmeriCorps volunteer, graduated from UMF with a History major and a minor in International Global Studies, “I know there isn’t exactly a correlation between my major and sustainability, but after graduating I just wanted to find a way to further engage with this community, that I really fell in love with for the four years that I was here,” said Rodriguez.

“I was a teacher’s assistant for an English 100 class, I was a tutor for the 21st Century Program, and I also was an archival assistant through the Partnership for Civic Advanced for the Temple Historical Society. Making those connections within the community and being able to reach out to the same people to help bring awareness to what were are trying to do with our initiative is what I love about this opportunity.” said Rodriguez. “I’ve always wanted to do environmental education and this is a really good way to kind of fill the deficit that I felt that I had in terms of experience with environmental work.”

The AmeriCorps volunteer team also works to help students and community members practice sustainability and energy efficiency in other ways. “We do campus and community audits, basically doing a consultation with families in their homes, and college students in their dorms and talks about ways to be more energy efficient,” says Berry. “We also do a an energy revamp challenge, a campus wide contest to encourage more students to reduce their energy use and offer incentives to do so.”

The efforts of the AmeriCorps volunteers amplify other energy efficiency efforts taking place in Farmington. “We have the biomass central heating plant, which is also a great educational piece that we will also try to become more involved with, including the solar panels that are to be installed, which will also be a really great educational resource that we will have right here in Farmington… We would love to get involved with spreading knowledge about the installation. If we aren’t exploiting it, then it’s kind of a waste… It’s going to put Farmington of the map in terms of sustainability. People are going to drive into Farmington and they are going to see all of the solar panels.”

The Effects of Modern Technology on the Social Behaviors of Generation Z

Lindsay Mower – Staff Reporter

What makes Generation Z (Gen Z), those born in between 1996 and 2010, different from Millennials, those born between 1977 to 1995, are two major characteristics: they have never lived in a world without the internet (many of them haven’t experienced dial-up) and most of them can only recall September 11, 2001 as a historical event.

As a Gen X’er, born between 1965 and 1976, UMF’s Assistant Dean of Teaching Learning and Assessment Ashley Montgomery says there is an apparent generation gap between her and her Gen Z students, which is brought to light in the classroom.

Montgomery teaches a first-year seminar every fall that examines the anthropological repercussions of technology in the modern world called ‘The Internet of Us’ where, ironically, the discussion revolves around how technology impacts our interactions with each other by altering conversation and social engagement.

“My Generation Z students have grown up with devices in their life, that I did not grow up with, and those devices are such a significant part of how they interact with the world from a very early age,” said Montgomery.

She points out that one of the biggest challenges that she recognizes her Gen Z students facing is struggling with having to make face-to-face interactions with adults. “They aren’t as practiced with thinking out loud. It feels like we have to do a lot of translation,” she Montgomery. She believes this is because the Gen Z population may lack certain processing skills, most likely caused by the impacts technology has had on their childhood development.

Montgomery believes the Gen Z population may not quite see in themselves technology’s dangerous impact on our behavior in conversation, but they do see it in their parents. “They have this dynamic where they think, ‘I need to talk to my mom about something, but she’s on her phone. She says she’s listening to me, but I don’t think she is.’ And maybe the reason they think that is because they know in themselves that if they’re looking at their phone,” says Montgomery. “They aren’t really hearing everything you’re saying. They are giving you distracted attention.”

Another struggle Montgomery says she sees Gen Z students facing is making the adjustment to adulthood. “For many of them the shift of college, the shift away, where they have to create their own structure can be hard for them… It’s something I have seen increasing, she said. “I teach first semester, first year students… They have grown up in a more structured environment, from the outside, from parents and school and after school activities, and they have a lot of expectations, and then suddenly their structure isn’t being artificially imposed from somebody outside of themselves, and that’s a big hurdle for some of these students.”

Senior Outdoor Recreation and Business major Vaughn Keenhold, who has grown up in the Gen Z timeframe, agrees with Montgomery, but naturally sees the whole picture from a slightly different perspective. “I’ve was fortunate to grow up in a time when I didn’t have a cell phone, I didn’t have cable and I didn’t have internet in my house. My parents would bring us to family get togethers and I was always able to talk with adults and hold legitimate conversations with anyone from a young age,” says Keenhold, “however, I can totally see with those around me they while they are engaged in their phones, everything is happening around them, and they are having a harder time engaging with adults because of this.”

Keenhold, a Millennial, also doesn’t believe technology’s effects on social behavior are only affecting the Gen Z population. “I also think that adults now, with social media usage and everything like that, adults are having issues relating to other adults, as well as children, because of the same technology,” says Keenhold. “With Millennials and Generation Z, they just aren’t making the connections and experiences that they would normally be making otherwise, I don’t think it has as much to do with disruption of normal child development.”

Feeling uncomfortable with a lot of the ways that Millennials have been “pigeon-holed” or the way that tern has become a stereotype in the media, Montgomery finds herself waiting to see if Gen Z will be portrayed with a more positive manner. She believes that understanding each other and the differences in place due to these generational differences can help us to learn from each other. “We can use this generation gap as a lense to relate to each other in order to help better navigate the world,” said Montgomery.

Alpine Ski Teams Set Mountainous Expectations for Winter Season

Alpine Ski Teams Set Mountainous Expectations for Winter Season

By Devin Lachappelle – Contributing Writer

   Although the Farmington area has yet to see significant snowfall, members of UMF’s Alpine Ski teams are already hitting the slopes and training hard as they look to get a strong start to the season. They hope to eventually make a run for the United States Collegiate Ski & Snowboard Association (USCSA) National Championships in March.

   Jed Stevens, a Junior and a captain of the men’s team, is cautiously optimistic about this season. Stevens expects that both the men’s and women’s teams will put up strong performances despite a lack of upperclassmen racers.

Ben Higgins takes a practice run down Chicken Pitch, a steep section of trail at Sugarloaf Mountain
Credit: Ben Higgins

   “We have a very young ski team this year,” Stevens said. “Luckily for me, the majority of our team has an ample amount of experience in racing. My expectations for the team this year are high, but skiing is a tough sport, so we take on our season by going one race at a time.”

       Jess Freeborn, a sophomore and a captain of the women’s team, agreed with Stevens, and noted that she appreciated her teammates’ energy. “The women’s Alpine team is a young but vibrant team,” she said. “The team [is] extremely excited and eager to hit the snow.”

   Although her teammates have shown incredible enthusiasm about this alpine ski season, Freeborn said that she still likes to keep a careful eye on her fellow racers to make sure no one gets overwhelmed.

   “I help make sure everyone’s attending practices and in a good place emotionally and academically,” she said. “I have been called the team mom more than a few times!“

    Ben Higgins, a recent transfer student from Currie College and a new addition to the men’s Alpine Ski team, was a bit more outspoken about his goals than Stevens and Freeborn were. “We’ve had nationals on our Google Calendar all year,” Higgins said, in reference to the USCSA Championships, which are held in New York at the end of the ski season.

   While the Alpine Ski teams don’t have official home racing venues, Stevens mentioned that he and his teammates train often at Titcomb Mountain, a small ski mountain located two miles from the school’s campus.

   “UMF and its snow sports teams have an excellent relationship with Titcomb Mountain,” Stevens said. “In my own personal opinion, Titcomb has one of the best trails for slalom races in the state of Maine.”

   Stevens also noted that Titcomb is particularly accommodating to UMF students, both for those looking to watch races and those looking to ski. “[Titcomb is] only ten minutes away and provides free skiing to all UMF students, [so] if you want to come watch us compete, this is the venue to do it,” he said.

   Stevens and Higgins mentioned that although it isn’t as close to campus as is Titcomb, Sugarloaf Mountain is a fantastic place to practice, given its substantial size and the difficulty of its trails.

    “Sugarloaf provides us with an opportunity to train on a large mountain with challenging terrain, which gives us a major edge in races held on difficult slopes,” Stevens said. “Once the season gets into full swing, this is our preferred training space for giant slalom [races].”

   Higgins agreed and said, “I would consider Sugarloaf to be part of our extended community here at UMF.” With laughter in his voice, Higgins continued, “It’s not too far away; if you give it a little bit of a lead foot you can get there pretty quickly.”

   The full schedules for the men’s and women’s alpine ski teams can be found at http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/malpineski/2017-18/schedule and http://athletics.umf.maine.edu/sports/walpineski/2017-18/roster, respectively.

   Any UMF student interested in getting a free season pass to Titcomb Mountain should visit http://www.titcombmountain.com/.

Indoor Track Balances Increase in Members with Limited Budget

Indoor Track Balances Increase in Members with Limited Budget

By Leah Boucher –Staff Reporter

    The UMF Track Club has recently grown to over 30 athletes, creating a challenge for its Executive Board to strictly adhere to the $4,200 budget given for the winter semester. With the first meet of the season on December 9th, the team faces the stress of funding before they begin to compete.

   Instead of coaches taking on the responsibility of the club, students on the E-board are in control of finding transportation, lodging, and calculating the costs of each meet while trying to stay under budget. Ben Toribio, President of the club, knows that the increase in team size this semester will force them to make some changes in order to stay within their funds.

Senior Jesse Enos and UMF Alum Sean Cabaniss compete in an indoor track meet in 2016.
credit: Jesse Enos

   “During the last indoor track season, we had around 20 athletes, allowing us to take school vans or local buses to meets,” said Toribio. “However, now that we are pushing 30 members, we need to look for other ways to transport the entire team without spending thousands of dollars on a coach bus.”

    Jesse Enos, Vice President of the club, has the job of finding out what, how, and when the team will spend the money, forcing him and Toribio to make the decision to cancel the original first meet on December 2nd.

 

 

“To my knowledge, I don’t think the budget has changed drastically since last year, but more members means more equipment, gear, and entrance fees,” said Enos. “Plus, after looking for a coach bus to Smith College for two days, it would have put us out of $3,500, which made it fiscally irresponsible to attend that meet with our budget in mind.”

    Kirsten Corey, Secretary of the Track Club, is sticking with a positive outlook on the season due to team growth. “When looking at our overall team goals for the winter semester, I do not expect that our limited budget will interfere with reaching them, as more members give us a stronger team,” said Corey. “Ultimately, our goals for indoor are to train and prepare for the NAC championship meet in the outdoor season, so even if we have a meet or two canceled, we can still prepare just as hard in practices.”

    Enos believes that if the indoor club was instead a varsity sport, they may have more money to work with to attend meets in Massachusetts and other states in New England.

   “Right now, it’s disappointing that we can’t attend more meets in various states, as this gives us more competition to work with and build from,” he said. “If we were a varsity sport, our funding would come from tuition, but as a club, most of our money comes from the activity fee that all students pay as well as any fundraising we take on, limiting our choice in meets in connection with their distance from UMF.”

    Although the team will compete in Maine for the majority of their meets, Corey doesn’t want this to discourage new members. “Most of our new athletes are freshman, and they have a lot of potential and put a lot of work into each practice,” she said. “As a team, we need to support them and stress the importance of their talents and efforts.”

Bust-A-Move Beavers Showcase their Fall Performance

Bust-A-Move Beavers Showcase their Fall Performance

By Gwen Baker, Contributing Writer

 Bust-A-Move Beavers (BAM), a student-led dance group, after a lot of hard work this semester, recently held one of their biannual showcases.

   The lights dimmed low as dancers dressed in black and yellow with their hair tied neatly in a ponytail waited eagerly in sitting positions, backs turned away from the audience. The crowd held their breath as the song Black and Gold by Sam Sparro started, cueing the dancers to begin.

Performers dancing to Black and Gold, Choreographed by Rachael Chavarie. (Photo Courtesy of Gwen Baker)

    Rachael Chavarie, a junior Elementary Education major and Vice-President of the club, choreographed this routine. Chavarie chose Black and Gold because it sounded like something she had never heard before. “I discovered the song in my favorite movie, Fame, and I just really love it.”

   Zyanya Holman, a junior majoring in Community Health, has been attending BAM recitals every semester since her freshman year to support her friends, including Chavarie. Holman loved everything about Chavarie’s performance in Black and Gold. “It was very sassy, very spicy,” said Holman. “It felt like you wanted to get out of your seat and join them.”

   One of the performers in Chavarie’s routine was the current club President Meagan Ring, a senior double majoring in Math and Actuarial Science. Ring choreographed the routine for She Used to Be Mine, by Sara Bareilles.

   “One of my favorite [routines] to perform was She Used to Be Mine because it is really meaningful and hits home for a lot of people,” explained Ring. “I wanted to use it to bring some awareness to domestic violence.”

   Another popular performance was “Inner Demons” by Julia Brennan, a duet choreographed by Autumn Hopkins and Meagan Ring. “I loved, loved, loved “Inner Demons”,  it was very graceful, very powerful,” said Holman. “It sends a message of strength and overpassing obstacles.”

   Ring describes the dynamic of BAM as a close group of people who share the same passions with one another. “We call each other a Bamily; we’re a family. A little spin on family,” said Ring with a fond smile.

    “BAM is awesome, it’s so much fun, we are a great group of people,” laughs Chavarie. “[However], we can get silly sometimes.”

   If you are interested in joining BAM, search for “UMF Bust-A-Move Beavers” on Facebook.

 

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