BETHEL – The 2006 annual fund campaign has passed the $23,500 level from more than 400 donors, according to John B. Head, chairman of the society’s Annual Fund Committee. Those wishing to make a tax-deductible gift to the society before the end of 2006 are asked to send it to the P.O. Box 12, Bethel, ME 04217-0012.

Kent C. Ryden, director of the American and New England Studies Graduate Program at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, was the featured speaker for the final lecture of the season on Nov. 9. The series was sponsored, in part, by a grant from the Maine Humanities Council in honor of the society’s 40th anniversary of founding in 1966.

A graduate of Carroll College in Wisconsin and a native of that state, Ryden, who holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Connecticut and a PhD in American civilization from Brown University, discussed the New England landscape with an eye to understanding its past.

His topic, “Landscape with Figures: Nature and Culture in New England,” was presented with a series of slides along with extended commentary, where he emphasized the role of nature and history in creating and maintaining the New England landscape.

An associate professor at the University of Southern Maine since 1994, Ryden is the author of two books, “Mapping the Invisible Landscape: Folklore, Writing and the Sense of Place” and “Landscape with Figures: Nature and Culture in New England.”

More information about the society and its activities may be obtained by calling 824-2908 or 1-800-824-2910, e-mailing [email protected] or visiting

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