FARMINGTON — Sixteen students in University of Maine at Farmington’s first-year seminar course, “Sustainability in a Changing Climate,” are making a real-world difference in their local community with a $7,300 Project Canopy grant they recently received from the Maine Forest Service and GrowSmart Maine.

The grant will directly impact UMF and the surrounding area with the planting of about 20 full-size, trees and shrubs encompassing 11 species native to Maine on the Farmington campus next fall.

Project Canopy is Maine’s urban and community forestry program. Its mission is to create and maintain healthy urban and community forests for the economic, ecological and quality of life benefits for Mainers.

The idea of submitting a Project Canopy grant proposal was embraced by the students as a class project early in the 2014 fall semester. UMF’s first-year seminar courses are designed around a topic beyond the classroom that helps orient first-year students to college-level academics.

Recent construction of the Emery Community Arts Center and installation of heat wells for UMF’s Preble and Ricker Halls led to the removal of a number of large trees on campus that reduced its carbon storage capacity. Students saw the grant as a chance to increase the biomass on campus by planting new trees while also stimulating public awareness of the benefits of the role of forests in the community.

Andrea Nurse, UMF faculty member teaching the seminar course, divided the class into separate groups with each group working on a section of the grant proposal, including completing an application form, narrative, three-year maintenance plan, project-map and collecting letters of support.

Students spent much of the fall semester building the grant “from the ground up,” concentrating their research efforts on carbon storage, erosion, tree selection and the importance of mature trees to the environment and aesthetics of the community.

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