REGION — Students at Mt. Abram High School are among those from four counties that will have expanded learning opportunities thanks to a grant received by Rural Aspirations.

MaineSpark has awarded four $5,000 grants to innovative initiatives promoting postsecondary success for underrepresented student populations. The grants were made possible with support from the MELMAC Education Foundation and Educate Maine.

Educate Maine Executive Director Jason Judd said, “Local communities are doing interesting educational work. We wanted to learn about, support, innovative projects being done.”

Through grant funds, Rural Aspirations will support the second year of the Maine Forest Collaborative program. More than 50 students from six rural districts in Oxford, Piscataquis, Somerset and Franklin counties will be involved in efforts to contribute to the vitality of Maine’s forest communities.

Students at Mt. Abram High School are working on a MFC project through their environmental science course. They are addressing the challenge of the Kingfield region not having enough young people moving to the area to live there full time. The students are creating a website that showcases what the area has to offer Millennials considering a move to Maine.

Judd said, “Rural Aspirations is a connector between students and industry. Young people today struggle to go into the forestry industry, especially if they lack personal connections.”


Through MFC programming, students actively contribute, as citizens and stewards, to the vitality of forest communities today and into the future. They work through a rapid prototyping process, while considering how natural resources can be used to positively impact local communities.

Students meet three times throughout the year to test their ideas in front of industry experts, investigating economic, environmental, and socio/cultural impacts, learning about the amazing opportunities available to them in the diverse natural resource sectors of the future.

Although the primary audience is high school students, adults learn alongside the students. Identified are the skills students need to be successful contributors and ways to  build connections between community and schools in order to build a future together.

Also receiving grants were Oxford Hills Community Exchange, Project Launch and the University of Maine Machias. This is the second year grants were awarded.



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