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Wednesday
Nov062013

Social Media for the Woods 2013 with Rich Brooks, Flyte New Media


On November 1, 2013, a rainy Friday, representatives from a variety of influential Maine organizations dedicated to natural resources, ecology, and consevation gathered in Augusta.  Contrary to what you might expect they weren't discussing policy, or biodiversity, or economics.  Instead, they were messing around on Twitter and Facebook!

Well, not exactly - they were attending Social Media for the Woods, a workshop organized by Forests for Maine's Future.  The purpose of the workshop was to bring together leaders and communications professionals from the Maine natural resources community to learn to use social media in creating partnerships and selling a mission to a wider audience.  Use of social media, while old hat in some circles, is still new to many working the Maine Woods who got into the field to be outside rather than on the computer.  But, as indicated by the strong attendence and lively discussion at the workshop, social media represents an exciting way to reach a larger, younger, and more diverse audience.

The day started out with a welcome by Kevin Doran of the Maine Forest Service and Spencer Meyer of UMaine's Center for Research on Sustainable Forests, followed by the keynote speaker - Rich Brooks of Flyte New Media.  Rich pointed out right away that social media isn't a magic bullet solution to every problem - but it can be a way to accelerate your existing outreach, initiatives, and conversations.  Social media allows organizations the chance to find their audience, tell their story, get engaged, and listen to the concerns of their members or consituents.  Rich provided a brief intro to a variety of social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, blogs, podcasts, Youtube, webinars, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.  

Of course, an organization that tries to use all of these is going to find itself stretched thin.  So the next step was to determine the specific goals of each group in the room, and discuss the most effective social media to use to achieve those goals.  Group breakout sessions allowed for brainstorming and discussion around these questions, and potential communications partnerships were built as organizations learned they had similar goals or were producing similar content.  Some groups already had well-developed social media programs and shared insights with others who were just starting out.

Our hope is that the connections forged during the workshop will continue into the future.  If you'd like to stay involved with FMF's continued social media outreach project, watch for updates to this blog.  You can also "like" us on Facebook:  
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Forests-for-Maines-Future/305054109540329 or follow us on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Frsts4MEsFuture.  Stay in touch!

 

Wednesday
Oct302013

Maine TREE Foundation Summer Teachers' Tours 2013

When school lets out and summer begins, kids aren't the only ones who look forward to having fun in the Maine woods.  Teachers need time to play outside too!  And if outdoor fun is combined with a chance to learn about forestry, history, and ecology, and how to apply those subjects in the classroom, all the better.  That's the goal of the Maine TREE Foundation's annual Summer Teachers' Tours.  

Each year the TREE Foundation offers several chances for K-12 teachers to explore forestry in Maine on 4-day in-depth field trips.  Participants meet with foresters, naturalists, landowners, and researchers while discussing ways to relate their field experience to the classroom, with a focus on hands-on, place-based, and experiential learning.  Each tour begins with a Project Learning Tree workshop that introduces teachers to the preK-12 curriculum, then participants travel across the Maine Woods engaging in field discussions about biology, sustainable forestry, forest ecology, recreation, wildlife, wood products, and other forest-related subjects.

What were the favorite activities of the 2013 tour season?  A meeting with the director of Baxter State Park, for one, and tours of the Jackman & Moose River Lumber and Great Northern Paper mills.  Also a trip to the Great Northern Logging Museum at the Boom House on Ambejesus Lake to learn about logging history, and tours of a variety of different logging operations, on the land of Plum Creek, Prentiss & Carlisle, and others, with the chance to speak to several forestry professionals.  The accomodations weren't so bad either, as they included the Twin Pines cabins at the New England Outdoor Center and the Appalachian Mountain Club's Gorman Chairback Lodge.  

Teachers finished the field trips excited to bring what they'd learned back to their classrooms.  Many intended to use lessons from the Project Learning Tree curriculum.  Others were developing forest research projects for their students, planning outdoor classrooms, and inviting local foresters to teach special lessons.  Several teachers were interested in using the range of perspectives they experienced during the workshop as a place-based lesson in social studies and finding common ground.  

If you're a teacher in Maine interested in participating in the Summer Teachers' Tours in 2014, contact the Maine TREE Foundation at mtf@gwi.net or 207-621-9872.

Tuesday
Oct222013

FMF 2013 Membership Survey Results

In early 2013, University of Maine graduate student Bennet Leon helped Forests for Maine's future develop and administer a web survey of our entire membership.  We're excited to share the results of that survey with you, our FMF subscribers, many of whom took the time to give thoughtful and invaluable input.  Given that FMF's mission is to educate as many folks as possible about Maine's forests, we're working to expand our reach through both traditional means and new social media initiatives.  As we expand, this survey gives us a solid base upon which to understand our current membership and effectively reach out to new audiences.  So without further ado...

FMF Member Demographics
Of the 10.1% of FMF members who responded to the survey, 70% were male and 70% were over 55.  65% reported owning forestland in Maine.  42% were employed in a forest-related occupation.  

Impressions of Online Media
Survey participants were asked to rank their most desirable sources of information.  E-newsletters and websites came out on top, indicating that FMF is using the right methods to appeal to their current membership.  (Those over 75, however, ranked newspapers as their favorite source of information - the times, they are a-changin').  Most FMF subscribers (67%) visit the website once a month or a few times a year, most likely to read the feature articles.  Members reported that they read most of the e-newsletters they receive (from FMF and other sources), most of the time.  Favorite topics for the "Fresh from the Woods" feature articles?  Wildlife, conservation, history, and forest products.  Forest management and ecology were also popular.

What Could Be Improved?
Plenty of suggestions were offered for how FMF might expand and improve.  The most common suggestions were a calendar of statewide forest-related events on the website, more feature articles (and web content in general), and educational programs.  The "News from the Woods" e-newsletter was criticized for being both too broad and too locally-focused - go figure!  A few folks were also concerned about the e-newsletter getting lost in a flurry of other similar email.  And interestingly, despite the desire for more web content, only 2% of respondents thought that social media would be a good addition to the FMF outreach portfolio.  

So How Does Social Media Fit In?
FMF is in the process of expanding its social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, and this blog.  Based on the results of the survey, using these new methods of outreach may help attract people to FMF content who aren't the organization's traditional audience.  FMF already has a large membership of forestry-oriented folks who enjoy the e-newsletter and regularly check out the "Fresh from the Woods" features on the website.  But we don't want to preach only to the choir.  So we're hoping our membership can be expanded by these non-traditional means to draw in younger folks, folks that may not be landowners, or folks that don't work in the forest industry - potentially sparking a new interest in conserving Maine's forests that will continue to grow and spread.  

The Bottom Line
We're happy to report that our feature articles and newsletter are considered a useful and quality resource by the majority of our membership.  Joe Rankin's thoughtful, in-depth features and e-news summaries will continue as usual in the future.  We're also looking forward to following up on your suggestions, and we're hoping that the new, additional social media initiative can help us expand our membership beyond its current demographic make-up.  Thank you for your continued support of Forests for Maine's Future!
 

Tuesday
Oct152013

SWOAM Field Day 2013 - Maine Forest Fun, Education, and Memories

The day's hosts & special guest.Forests for Maine's Future partner SWOAM (the Small Woodland Owners of Maine) is a membership-based non-profit that offers support and advocacy to the state's small woodland owners.  The annual Field Day is SWOAM's biggest event of the year, where forest stewards can gather to get the latest info and meet their peers, and 2013 fit that bill perfectly.  250 forest-oriented folks attended the event on September 14, which was held at the Alton "Dude" Brown Memorial Tree Farm in Vassalboro.

The Brown Farm heron rookery - a rare sight!

 

 

Guests of honor were the Outstanding Tree Farmers of 2013, Abbot and Mim Ladd.  Abbott passed away at age 86.  Abbott was the first executive director of SWOAM and a certifier of Tree Farms for 50 years.  The Field Day offered the perfect opportunity to pay tribute to such an inspirational figure - he was remembered by many friend and colleagues, including Mark Brown and Betty Foster, the day's hosts.

Lumberjack action.The celebration involved a full slate of demonstrations, exhibits, and entertainment.  Music was provided by the RB Hall Band, of which Abbott Ladd used to be a member.  There were horse logging and cut-to-length harvesting demos, horse-drawn wagon tours, field dog training demos, a portable sawmill, a rare Lombard log hauler from the early 1900s, woodmen's team action from the University of Maine and Unity College, and a visit from Smokey Bear!  

The steam-powered Lombard log hauler.If you're looking for ways to get involved in Maine's vibrant community of forest stewards, the annual Field Day and other SWOAM events are a great place to start.  Check out the calendar on their website:  http://swoam.org/.  Or, contact them by phone at 207-626-0005 or email at info@swoam.org.  They're always looking for new members!

Friday
Oct042013

5 Places to Have A Maine Woods Educational Adventure

A big part of Forests for Maine's Future's mission is to educate Mainers about the benefits and wonders of our state's 17 million acres of forest land.  And what better way to learn than to experience the history and ecology of Maine for yourself?  At these five places, you can explore Maine's forest legacy and have a real outdoor adventure:

 
Wildlife habitat diorama at L.C. Bates Museum. (Photo: L.C. Bates Museum)1)  Rangeley Logging Museum, Rangeley, ME.  At this small museum on the outskirts of downtown Rangeley you can explore logging history, check out an impressive historic chainsaw and crosscut saw collection, and eat authentic "beanhole beans" during the annual Logging Days celebration!  http://www.rlrlm.org/; 207-864-3939; info@rlrlm.org.

 
American chestnut in flower at Viles Arboretum (Photo: Viles Arboretum)2)  LC Bates Museum of Natural History, Fairfield, ME.  This eclectic collection includes indoor wildlife habitat dioramas in the style of the 19th century museum, as well as outdoor nature trails.  It bridges historic interpretations of natural history with modern ones, featuring kids programs, adult nature walks, and invasive species education.  
http://www.gwh.org/lcbates/
LCBatesMuseum.aspx
; 207-238-4250; lcbates@gwh.org.

 
3)  Penobscot and Massabesic Experimental Forests, Alfred and Bradley, ME.  These two forests, in different corners of the state, are research laboratories for scientists and foresters.  Both have extensive trail networks where you can explore and learn about forest ecology and management techniques.  http://www.umaine.edu/universityforests/Penobscot_Experimental_Forest.htm; 207-581-2887 & http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/ef/locations/me/massabesic/; 603-868-7632.

 
Horses headed for the mill at Leonard's Mills. (Photo: Maine Forest and Logging Museum)4)  Viles Arboretum, Augusta, ME.  These 224 acres in the heart of Augusta are  a hidden jewel and a wonderful place to learn about plant ecology.  Check out the rare American Chestnut grove, many examples of both native and exotic tree species, and more varieties of hostas than you ever knew existed.  http://www.vilesarboretum.org/; 207-626-7989. 

 
(Photo: William Cullina, Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens)5)  Maine Forest & Logging Museum at Leonard's Mills, Bradley, ME.  Leonard's Mills recreates a late-1700s logging settlement, complete with blacksmithing, sawmilling, yarn-spinning, and bateaux-piloting.  The living history and extensive event calendar make this place a truly unique way to learn about several aspects of Maine's forest history.
 http://www.leonardsmills
.com/

207-974-6278; 
info@leonardsmills.com.

 
The majority of the information featured in this post comes from a longer piece by Forest for Maine's Future staff writer Joe Rankin.  Check it out for even more info about where to experience the history and ecology of the Maine woods:  http://www.forestsformainesfuture.org/fresh-from-the-woods-journal/learning-about-the-woods-places-to-go-things-to-see.html.

 

 

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