Salmon in the Sandy

By Nolan Pakulski Contributing Writer

   On the cold clear morning of March 6, 2019, Nancy Prentiss and her Bio 110 class helped the Maine Department of Marine Resources deposit the eggs of Atlantic Salmon into a tributary of the Sandy River.

    Prentiss and her class snowshoed through the woods that morning, until they reached the Sandy River. “[It] was a gorgeous day in the single digits, about 8 degrees. I’m not sure if the temperature ever broke out of the single digits,” said Prentiss.

   The tributary – a stream that flows into the river – that the group snowshoed to is called the South Branch. The students and Prentiss hauled the equipment they would need through several feet of snow. This equipment included coolers of already fertilized salmon eggs, water cannons, and aluminium cones. The water cannons and cones were used to create artificial redds – nests on the river bottom that wild salmon lay their eggs in.

   First the aluminum canister is inserted and then the water cannon blasts away the pebbles on the bottom to create a sandy place for the eggs. In charge of the whole operation was Paul Christman a marine scientist who works for the Maine Department of Marine Resources.

   The eggs that were used were provided for the project by the Craig Brook Fish Hatchery, in East Orland Maine, about 2 hours away from Farmington. The eggs had already been incubating for 8 weeks before coming to the South Branch.

   After a few hours of planting the eggs, the job was finished. Prentiss and her class then returned to campus. “I think it was a fun and very interesting activity, more or less in our backyard. For me it was real exciting to be physically part of trying to save an endangered species,” said Prentiss.

   The students in the class enjoyed the project as well. “I had a lot of fun going out in the woods – especially getting to snowshoe out to the egg site – it was a good time,” said Mariah Bonneau, a sophomore in the class.

   Atlantic Salmon used to number in the millions, returning up the rivers to spawn in New England’s waterways. As European settlers progressed, mills and dams were placed on numerous rivers throughout the Northeastern United States. Gradually the population of Atlantic Salmon has declined enough so that scientists can count the few salmon that return to Maine waterways to spawn.

   However, the salmon population is being helped along by the planting of eggs in Maine rivers to allow the species to come back. In addition to egg planting, dilapidated dams are being removed, (Farmington voted to remove during November) and people are building fish ladders (or elevators) for the fish to help them move up the rivers.

   Maine is currently the only state where Atlantic Salmon still return up the rivers. The project that the Bio 110 class participated in is an attempt to raise the number of salmon to help the species survive.

    “It is possible to bring back the salmon. The idea is that we can help them with part of the life cycle,” said Prentiss. “They say that the Sandy River may be one of the best, if not the best, [for the salmon] because of the temperature and flow, the structure of the gravel bed, the clean water, and the aquatic insects [for the salmon] to eat.”

   The eggs are planted every year around late February or early March, and volunteers are always welcomed. Anyone interested in participating in next years egg planting can contact Paul Christman at

A Beaver For The Books: Erin Buckland

By Libby Shanahan Contributing Writer

   From racing down snowy mountains of western Maine, to scoring a try while playing rugby with some of the best collegiate female athletes in the Floridian flatlands, Erin Buckland – junior, Officer of Club Affairs (OCA) of Student Senate, and general studies major – sheds light on her exciting life as a UMF Beaver.

   A Farmington native, Buckland attended the nearby snow sports academy Carrabassett Valley Academy, (CVA) where she was able to hone in on her alpine racing abilities while competing alongside some of the best in the business. “I have always been competitive and dedicated to what I decide to do,” said Buckland. “With that being said, being in that environment gave me an edge that I have been able to see transfer over into my day to day life.”

   Since first arriving to UMF in 2016, Buckland has gotten involved in several on-campus leadership roles, clubs, and organizations – even working her way to becoming the student-assistant alpine coach. “I’m not quite sure how it all began, like I don’t think that there was a huge moment where I realized that this was what I wanted to do,” Buckland said, “I guess I sort of came into these positions with not only a clear idea of the changes that I wanted to make, but how I wanted to be involved.”

   Buckland is an active member of Student Senate. She first began as a senator but has now moved into the executive role of OCA. Among many duties, Buckland primarily oversees the functioning of all clubs on campus, and assures that all clubs are using funds properly and keeping up to date on proper documentation.

  Buckland has a personal goal that she wishes to tackle before leaving her position as OCA. “I want to make it so that clubs, both sports and regular clubs alike, have someone that they can see as a sounding board in Senate,” Buckland explained, “When I first had a got elected to E-board for rugby as Vice President of the women’s team, I was shocked at how much shuffling around from different offices and people that you had to do just to get your club remotely on the books.”

   Perhaps Buckland’s most gleaming passion is for the rugby team. Buckland described her first season as a rookie on the team, “I was completely new to the sport, but I also had a feeling that I had met a solid group of girls who kicked a**, as cliche as that may sound.” No stranger to hard work, Buckland picked up the sport within weeks and scored her first “try” (which is worth five points, the maximum amount of points that can be scored).

   After her first season, Buckland was elected vice president of the team. Shortly thereafter, her talents and accomplishments were recognized and moved into the captain/president role on the team. “I take being captain and president very seriously, and it really means a lot that the girls trust me to be that position,” said Buckland.

   “I guess I was just excited that I was able to find something that ultimately has become one of my favorite things to do, and hopefully something that I could turn into a career,” said Buckland.

   “Now that I have some coaching experience on the hill, and even though the sports are vastly different, I keep toying with the idea of coaching rugby,” Buckland said. “Even though I never thought that I would go to UMF, I am glad that I did… I don’t think that I would have come into these positions anywhere else.”

Checking in on Spring Student Teachers

By Avery Ryan Contributing Writer

  The projector whirs with the display of a world map. A flurry of Expo markers paints rules, legends, and keys across the expanse of the whiteboard. Students ponder, murmur, and think. Suddenly, a spark. Discussion deepens, smiles spread across students faces as their understanding grows. The bell rings and students rise from their seats, but discussion has not stopped.

   “That’s my goal. To have a classroom that is both engaging and enjoyable,” said Isaac Michaud, a social studies student teachers at Skowhegan Area High School. Michaud, like all spring student teachers, has reached the halfway point of his assignment. “I felt prepared educationally, [in January, when he started student teaching] but I was still very nervous… you never know what can happen in a classroom.”

   Michaud emphasized how valuable the experience of student teaching has been for him. “I hadn’t been in the classroom in a while, and being in a classroom teaching what I love made me want to teach.” Even will all of his classes, Michaud felt that there was much to be gained from student teaching. “You can be taught lesson plans and strategies, but you can’t prepare for the behavior and interactions from students and faculty.”

   Chelsea Ballard, another student teacher, offered a different perspective going into her assignment: “In October I joined this class for the Advanced Practicum and transitioned right to student teaching in January… I already knew my mentor teacher, the staff, and my kiddos so I wasn’t introduced to anything new. My perspective on teaching hasn’t changed, and this has confirmed that this is exactly what I want to to do with my life. I look forward to getting up and going to school everyday.”

   Both student teachers noted the “lightbulb moments” as their favorite times in their placements. “This student was really confused one day during math instruction. I noticed, and took the time to sit down with the student one on one and break down what we were doing,” said Ballard. “At the end of my explanation, a light bulb went on in the students head, and they finally understood. I love being able to have those special moments with my students. It makes me feel like I am doing a good job.”

   Similarly, Michaud stated that “It was one of my first activities with a senior group. I was nervous about how close we were in age, and it was an activity focused on the development of countries. They got really into the activity and asked if we could do it again with different countries. They left the class smiling.”

   On the topic of obstacles, both Michaud and Ballard noted how difficult it is to balance their personal lives with teaching. “Whether it be managing time with schoolwork, or trying to have a social life, it can be pretty difficult,” said Ballard. “As a college student there are a lot of different times during the day to do schoolwork. When you are teaching, there is barely any time to go to the bathroom. So learning how to manage your time for schoolwork and a social life can be challenging.”

   Michaud echoed Ballard’s thoughts: “In teaching you can only plan so far ahead. When I get home I’m doing all kinds of other work.” Michaud continued with advice from his mentor, “You have to ask yourself, ‘Is it important, or urgent?’ Does it have to happen now or can it happen tomorrow? Go for that run, hang out with friends – take care of yourself.”

   As far as advice for future student teachers, Michaud said “Don’t be afraid to take risks that are different from your mentors approach, and don’t get caught up in all of your outside work for seminar. Take care of yourself, then your students, then seminar.”

   Ballard offered another perspective: “Take every opportunity you can get. Go to every meeting, every parent teacher conference, and really get to know your kids. You would be surprised to how much you learn about yourself as a teacher from your students. Kids need us and we need them.”

Laps for a Cause

Laps for a Cause

By Madison Lecowitch Contributing Writer

 Every year UMF hosts Relay for Life, an event supporting individuals who have had cancer impact their lives. This year the event is scheduled for April 12th, with a goal to raise $100,000. Alyssa Higbie, captain of the Campus Residence Council (C.R.C.) team for Relay for Life and senior at UMF, has seen first hand how cancer can devastate families and change lives forever. Through participating in Relay for Life, Higbie has used her experience to help benefit other people battling with cancer.

(L to R): Taylor Rossics, Alyssa Higbie, and Michaela Carney participated in Relay for Life in 2018. This will be Higbie’s third year participating. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Higbie)

   Higbie first saw cancer impact her family when her dad was diagnosed. He is now a survivor of ten years. “My family was lucky that my dad’s cancer was only mouth cancer and the tumor was taken out, and he is able to be a survivor,” said Higbie. “Not everyone is that lucky, not everyone has as easy of a journey, and that’s why it is important that we do give back – that we do raise money for this.”

   Relay for Life is an event that is run by the American Cancer Society. The event raises money to help families and individuals who are battling cancer. “Relay for Life benefits people who are survivors, people who are dealing with cancer, the families of people who have cancer,” said Higbie. “It could be from financial help, to helping get rides to and from the cancer center, to helping figure out who the best doctors are.”

   Every donation to the organization helps. Last year, UMF and the Farmington community donated $21,000 to Relay for Life. “Every dollar we raise goes to research and it goes to early prevention and screenings,” Higbie said. “It goes to helping people who already have a diagnosis, so it gives help, it gives hope, and it gives care to people who need it the most.”

   Higbie understands how important it is to support other families who are dealing with cancer. “It could have been a lot different for my family if my dad’s cancer was more severe – and so to give back, to help families who might need a little more help then we needed – is really important to me.”

   To Higbie, there is a deeper meaning behind what Relay for Life stands for. “Relay for Life to me means hope. It means a chance of being able to help others, and it means to me a community coming together for a cause,” she said. “It means that people who need help in a dark time can get it, and if I can be a small part of that – that’s wonderful.”

   This will be Higbie’s third year participating in Relay for Life. Higbie has found that community support is what makes the event so spectacular. “Last year I raised $500 personally, and it was really all about talking to friends, family members and people from my church. A lot of the donations were $10-$15 a piece, so it’s not like it’s just one big donation from one person.”

  There will also be fundraising taking place throughout the night at the event. “We have live performances like the UMF Dance Team, Clefnotes and Deep Treble [who performed last year]. Different clubs have different tables around, as well as the community,” Higbie said. “We did snow cones last year, someone else had nail painting, and someone else had raffle baskets. It’s a real community event where everyone comes together to raise money.”

   Relay for Life will be held in the FRC on April 12th. The event is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. and usually ends early in the morning. Higbie encourages anyone who wants to participate to join the C.R.C. team and to email her at if there are any questions. To join the Relay for Life as a runner/walker a minimum $10 donation is required. “Everyone should join! Join a team, go as an individual, go for it,” Higbie said. “If you want to just go and support, you can also do that too.” 



Belly of the Beast

By Milo Fitzgerald Contributing Writer

   As I stood in Lafayette Park in Washington D.C., protest sign in hand and comrades by my side, I couldn’t help but laugh at the White House. That laughter turned from genuine to exasperated as a tour group of kids no older than twelve, wearing USA hoodies and MAGA caps, strutted past with their phones directed at us, pointing and laughing. We were the entertainment part of their tour.

   I was in D.C. that day to march alongside the Answer Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation in a demonstration condemning U.S. intervention and imperialism in Venezuela. Under the socialist-leaning government of the late Hugo Chávez and current president Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has provided its people with hundreds of social programs benefiting millions of its poorest citizens. Maduro’s Venezuela has protected Indigenous rights, raised literacy rates to nearly 100%, and continued the legacy of the Bolivarian Revolution. Venezuela has even been providing free oil heating to impoverished communities in the South Bronx since 2006.

   An article from teleSUR written by former war correspondent John Pilger reports that the 2018 Venezuelan presidential elections, where President Maduro was re-elected with 68% of the vote, were free of crime and corruption. “‘Of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored,” said former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Centre is a respected monitor of elections around the world, “I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” By way of contrast, said Carter, the U.S. election system, with its emphasis on campaign money, “is one of the worst.’”

   Venezuela also happens to have the current largest natural oil reserves on the planet. What a coincidence that the U.S. is attempting a coup, right? Not like the same excuse hasn’t been used in Iraq or anything.

   The United States is using its power and leverage to economically choke the Venezuelan people through sanctions and support terrorist opposition groups and leaders, including Juan Guaidó, the self-declared “president” who 81% of Venezuelans had never heard of prior to his announcement. Through decades of sanctions, the United States has banned Venezuela from importing food, medicine and other life necessities, and from nationalizing their oil reserves, which could dramatically boost their economy. On top of this, the U.S., Canada and Europe are holding over $23 billion dollars of Venezuelan gold and refuse to give it back to the country unless Guaido is sworn in as president. This is what you call democracy?

   Several weeks ago, a “humanitarian aid” truck tried crossing over the Colombia-Venezuela border. In western media outlets, including CNN and BBC, it was reported that the food aid in the truck was burned by President Maduro’s National Guard. This lie was spread across the globe until a few weeks later, when the New York Times published an article admitting there was video evidence of the opposition group (under Juan Guaidó) making molotov cocktails and burning the “aid.” The Intercept claims, “The liars from the U.S. Government and their allies in the corporate media were, as usual, given a platform to spread their lies without any challenge or dissent.”

   This is not to say that the government of Venezuela is blocking genuine humanitarian aid. The only countries blocked from sending aid are the U.S., Brazil (under fascist President Bolsonaro) and Colombia. The Intercept reports, “Both the Red Cross and the United Nations expressed concerns about ‘humanitarian aid’ from the U.S. on the grounds that it was a pretext for regime change and would politicize humanitarian aid,” as it has done so in the past.

   Venezuela has every right to doubt the authenticity of U.S. aid. Elliott Abrams, Mr. Trump’s newly-appointed special envoy to Venezuela, was let off the hook by President Bush in the 1980s for helping smuggle illegal weapons to terrorist organizations in Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra scandal. Seriously, look it up. There is no doubt in my mind that the same thing is happening in Venezuela. Just within the past couple months, the U.S. has sent cargo planes to Venezuela containing assault rifles, ammo and radios intended for Juan Guaidó and his mercenaries.

    We are witnessing a sequel to the 2003 Iraq invasion, although it can be hardly called a sequel when the United States has attempted to overthrow foreign governments over one hundred times within the past century.

   You will hear propaganda about the “corruption” and the “repression of free speech” in Venezuela, repeated by white Venezuelan bourgeois in Miami and American war mongers alike. I implore you to study these accounts critically. The U.S. has lied to you about nuclear weapons in the Gulf War, Iraq and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They have lied to you about the civil wars in Libya, Syria and Yemen.

   They have lied to you about the social and economic progress achieved through socialism in Cuba, and the intake of hundreds of Nazi war criminals into the U.S. following WW2, who would later become doctors, scientists, researchers and CIA agents. They have lied to you about the genocides in North America, Palestine, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, East Timor, the Philippines and Afghanistan.

   It seemed almost funny to me that day at Lafayette Park, that the world’s most brutal military force receives orders from such a disappointing and lame building surrounded by brainwashed children with red hats. As the sun burned my neck and my voice became hoarse, while men in business suits lined up on rooftops to observe our march and I was offered water, snacks and hot packs, I realized that we are living in the belly of the beast and have the ability to take direct action against the capitalist and imperialist forces that threaten freedom and self-determination at home and abroad. The heart of the empire is a scary place to be, but that’s where the change needs to be demanded.

   History will absolve us.