UMF Partnership for Civic Advancement celebrated

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FARMINGTON — The University of Maine at Farmington’s Partnership for Civic Advancement celebrated the completion of the first year of its internship program during a recent dinner event on the UMF campus.

UMF’s Partnership for Civic Advancement is a new initiative to engage students in meaningful community-based activities. These activities are designed in collaboration with the western Maine community to address community needs and economic and community development priorities, while also achieving specific learning objectives of the students.

Bangor Savings Bank Foundation, which awarded a three-year grant to the Partnership for its internship program last December, sponsored the event at UMF.

F. Celeste Branham, UMF vice president for student and community services and director of the Partnership for Civic Advancement, acknowledged the university’s deep gratitude for Bangor Savings Bank Foundation’s “generosity and community-mindedness, which caused the Partnership to become more than a concept-in-development, and instead a living, breathing initiative that they (Bangor Savings Bank) helped to launch with the gift of financial support for students working in the community.”

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UMF’s Partnership “is a pioneering example of campus-community collaborations, the first of its kind within the University of Maine System, and one that yields measurable benefits for our students and the community alike,” Branham stated.

In awarding the three-year grant, the bank viewed it not so much as a gift to the university, said Yellow Light Breen, executive vice president and chief strategic officer for Bangor Savings Bank, but rather as a way for the bank to “make a gift of these students’ talents, energy, and skills throughout our community through these student internships.”

Having had an internship experience in college herself, UMF President Kathryn A. Foster talked about the impact of that experience on her life, noting that “it was real … it was beyond the classroom,” and that she felt a part of something important.

“It not only gave me the opportunity to test myself in the field, but helped me gain experience and confidence,” Foster said.

The internship program, a key component of the UMF Partnership, matches the skills and interests of undergraduate students and faculty mentors with the needs of small businesses and community organizations requiring assistance with projects that are critical to their operating and strategic success.

Through these internships, students gain valuable work and life experiences and develop the professional, civic and leadership skills they will need to be productive and successful employees and actively engaged and responsible citizens, while small businesses and community organizations benefit from having access to important resources they need to succeed.

The Partnership placed eight interns during this past summer and fall including:  Nicholas Camic of Waterville; Joseph Dignam of York; Ty Hughes of Yarmouth; Kyle Norweg of Norridgewock; Veronica Penniman of Northport; Michael Phelan of North Kingstown, R.I.; Anna Soule of Kingfield; and Sarah Spencer of Farmington.

These interns worked with seven different community organizations:  High Peaks Alliance, Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust, Western Maine Community Action, Somerset Woods Trustees, Western Mountains Alliance, Mercer Community Club and the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area’s TerraCycle Program.

Two of these interns have been hired by their sponsoring organizations, two others have been asked by their organizations to extend their internships for a second semester, and all seven of these initial community partners already have, or are in the process of developing an internship for the coming year.

University faculty members recognized for their service as mentors for these interns included: Linda Beck, Matthew McCourt, John Messier, and Nancy Prentiss.

Approximately 10 to 14 internships for the spring semester are currently being finalized between the student applicants and 12 community organizations. Internship opportunities for the upcoming summer and fall are already being developed with community partners and are posted on the Partnership’s website (pca.umf.maine.edu) as they are received.

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