The Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District will host their Annual Banquet at 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 14 at the Penquis Higher Education Center on Mayo Street in Dover-Foxcroft. In addition to recognizing one teacher and one land owner for outstanding conservation efforts this year, the district is also celebrating their 60th anniversary.
To note the special occasion, an evening buffet is planned rather than the traditional week-day picnic and tour. Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Spear, Senator Paul Davis and other notable guests are expected to join in the festivities. After the meal, guest speakers from the Dept. of Ag will present on farm and forest land preservation tools available to Maine's land owners. The Cooperator of the Year and Outstanding Conservation Teacher of the Year will be recognized, and several registered guests will be drawn for door prizes donated by local businesses. Prizes include a gift certificate from Guilford Bed & Breakfast, gift certificates from Nor'easter Restaurant and gift subscriptions to The Piscataquis Observer. Each year the district recognizes a Cooperator of the Year and an Outstanding Conservation Teacher of the Year. Cooperators are landowners who implement conservation practices on their property. This year's award winner is Ron Locke, owner of Wicopy Woods. Locke, who served as a District Supervisor for many years and was a 1973 Distinguished Service Award recipient, and was instrumental in the Demonstration Forest project, has received many other awards over the years for his outstanding forestry work. He has been active in the Forest Products Marketing and Management Assoc., the Northeast Working Group, the Maine Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, the Forest Stewards Guild and many more fine forestry organizations. Locke's own property is a model of forestry Best Management Practices and is open to the public and the site of many guided tours for various organizations. Locke has done exemplary work with roads, bridges, culverts, slope stabilization, trails and more on his 140-acre parcel in Sebec.
The Outstanding Teacher of the Year is Rochelle Titcomb of MSAD #4 in Guilford. Titcomb, of Abbot, has been teaching for 20 years. She began in Jonesport Beals High School in 1971, then moved on to Stearns High School in Millinocket. She then spent many years raising her family, as co-owner of Titcomb's Store, and working part-time for the United States Postal Service and the MSAD #4 lunch program, before joining the teaching staff in 1987.
Titcomb worked primarily with middle school students in all subject areas and is now the grade six science and language arts teacher at Piscataquis Community Middle School. In 1998 she attended the Natural Resource Institute to learn how to incorporate the natural resources around PCMS into her lessons. She has developed a unit on tree identification that includes outdoor activities, a visitor from the Maine Forest Service and a poster contest through the Society of American Foresters.
She participates in the grade 6 trip to Borestone Mountain each year, providing geology education. She teaches a geology unit and focuses on products derived from Maine slate, granite, tourmaline, etc. In the fall of 2003, she attended an open house and geocaching workshop at the Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District's Demonstration Forest in Williamsburg Plantation. Titcomb hopes to get students involved in geocaching (a GPS-guided search for hidden treasure) and take them on a field trip to the forest in the future.
Please call the district office at 564-2321, ext. 3 to register for the buffet dinner before August 6. The meal of roast beef, baked stuffed chicken, roasted red potatoes, baby carrots, tossed salad, dinner rolls, beverages and dessert will be prepared by the Foxcroft Academy Food Service students. The cost is $12 per person.
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