A Week of Earth Day at UMA!

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Earth Day was founded on April 22, 1970 and is celebrated each year as a “…reminder of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging us to come together and take action for a healthier planet and brighter future.” (earthday.org).

This week at UMA, we at the Office of Civic Engagement hope you will join us in celebrating Earth Day by engaging in community-based environmental and conservation efforts, educating one’s self on the important challenges we face… and by enjoying our local environment!

Earth Day Activities in the UMA Community and Beyond:

EVENT: Attend “Signs of the Season Workshop“, an in-person volunteer training co-hosted by the UMA American Conservation Coalition. Participants will learn the goals of the program, how to make scientific observations of phenology (the study of cyclic and seasonal changes), practice making observations, and leave with the tools and knowledge needed to set up their own site to observe and record changes in phenology in their own yard or community. Monday, April 22nd from 10:00am-12:00pm in Jewett Hall 180. Free to all with registration.


ONLINE EVENT: Attend Rethinking Gardening Workshop to learn about how to garden in a world impact by climate change. Wednesday, April 24th from 7:00pm-8:00pm. Free with registration.

EVENT: Watch Oyate with the Office of Civic Engagement. This documentary follow indigenous activists and politicians who resisted the Dakota Pipeline. Screening on Thursday, April 25th from 2:00pm-4:00pm in Jewett Hall 289. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided. Attendance is free. Can’t make the screening in person? This film is available at no cost to students through the Academic Video Online: Premium, courtesy of UMA’s Library Services.

ACTIVITY: Read a book from the Earth Day selection available at Katz Library on the Augusta Campus. Free to students with a UMA ID.

ACTIVITY: Commit to personal change with 10 simple choices for a healthier planet. Climate change will require institution-level change, but personal choice still matters!

A scenic path at Viles Arboretum

ONGOING EVENT: Visit Viles Arboretum,  When? Any time from sunrise to sunset. Free.

ACTIVITY: Join one of our community gardens. UMA’s Bangor campus community garden is thriving and UMA’s Augusta campus community garden is starting anew with a student led garden club!

The Bangor Garden Club will be having a clean-up day on Wednesday, April 24th starting at 9:00am & will be planting sunflowers that afternoon. Contact kate.corlew@maine.edu for more information.

Join us at the Augusta campus garden on Saturday, April 27th from 11:00-2:00pm to pick up a free Mint Plant starter or vegetable seeds (supplies limited!), help us prepare for the summer, or just to see what we’re all about! Contact zachary.roth@maine.edu for more information.

ONLINE ACTIVITY: Learn how to make public comments on climate change or Write your representative directly. Free.

Recent Activities at UMA and Beyond

Volunteers from UMA and the Greater Kennebec Area Helped CA$H Maine


CA$H Maine provides free tax preparation and money management resources with Mainers statewide. In 2024, the local Central Maine CA$H saw over two dozen volunteers chip in to help prepare taxes, provide free financial education,

UMA Students from previous years found CA$H Maine through the Accounting Program and Professors Thomas Giordano and Gary Page. At the time, Jessica Parks and Leah Kovitch participated in the program Jessica reflected that her favorite part about volunteering was “getting to meet others who had worked in the accounting field and getting to ask them questions.” Through her volunteer work, Jessica was able to do an informational interview with a volunteer working in her field and practice her accounting skills.

Professor Giordano shared that for UMA Accounting students, “It has been a great opportunity for students to actually prepare tax returns while engaging with real tax data.” Giordano also says that “volunteering is an important aspect of being a responsible accounting professional.”

UMA Bangor & Augusta Community Gardens

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The UMA Bangor and Augusta Campus Community Gardens grow hundreds of pounds of food annually that are donated to six local pantries and shelters, including the Food for Thought pantry on the Bangor Campus and the Augusta Food Bank.

The Bangor Garden Club hosts educational gardening events, such as workshops on starting seedlings and composting. The Augusta Student Garden Club is starting anew in the 2024 season and is hoping to see many (new) friendly faces this summer. The gardens provide and essential services to the community by growing food that is donated to food insecure Mainers.

What Do Students Have to Say?

Photo of UMA student volunteersAmanda Griffin: Making a Difference

Amanda Griffin studied Business Administration on UMA’s Augusta campus, but she was always sure to make time to help out with the campus’ food share program. Once a week, Amanda and other UMA Augusta students met to pick up food from the Augusta Food Bank. This food was then brought to the campus and shared between the on-campus food pantry in the Randall Student Center, the residential hall, and the athletics program! 

When asked, Amanda said civic engagement means “making a difference – whether small or big – in your community to help those around you,” and UMA’s food share program definitely makes a difference. Many college students face food insecurity, and this program helps students to have easy, free access to food so that they can focus on work and study.

Kayla KalelKayla Kalel: Addressing Injustice in the Community

Working towards community betterment has been extremely important to Kayla Kalel. “For as long as people in my community that I love and care deeply about continue to die preventable deaths from overdoses, and for as long as some of my friends, family members and folks that I have met in the community are incarcerated for non-violent crimes, leaving their children alone to fend for themselves,” she said, “I consider it my obligation to advocate to ensure our community creates the type of community connection and resources all of us need to be our best selves.”

On top of her work as a student, Kayla served on the board of directors for Food AND Medicine, the Maine Coalition for Sensible Drug Policy, and the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition, and is co-founder of the Birth Justice Collective. While a student, Kayla also volunteered with the Bangor Area Recovery Network and helped to increase access to Narcan Kits. Additionally, she was the project co-coordinator for “Stories of Incarceration: The Penobscot County Jail Storytelling Project” and was featured on a podcast discussing how the carceral system impacts families and parenting.

To Kayla, “civic engagement is taking the opportunity to give back to the community. It’s seeing a need or an injustice, and then taking steps to make others aware of the injustice, and advocating in various ways to ensure it’s changed.” She adds that “civic engagement also means noticing voices in the community that are not being heard for various reasons, finding out why they are not being heard, and then creating equity and creating space to ensure these folks are part of the conversation and are part of decision making within their community.”

Alicia Bell quiltAlicia Bell: Sharing Skills and Giving Back

Alicia Bell pursued a BA in Art at UMA and spent her time between both the Augusta and Bangor campuses. She also used her creative and artistic skills to help her community as the secretary of the Bedtime Quilters in Bucksport and a member of the Pine Tree Quilting Guild. Alicia said that, when creating a quilt, “every member in the group makes a block, and it is put together with hard work, dedication, and lots of bright colors for love” before the quilt is donated to a local community shelter. By sharing her skills, Alicia was able to give back and help people in need. “Giving back to the community is essential to me,” she says, “because the community helps me live a safe life.”