By Courtney Jacques, Contributing Writer
UMF students recently collaborated with local Sandy River Farms to provide a wide range of fall activities during their corn maze event. In addition to dedicating their hard work, the health education students also gained valuable experience through the collaborative community service. The students provided various outdoor games, raffles, wagon rides, horse rides, and large cut-out photo ops for the community to utilize.
Sandy River Farms celebrates the month of October with their, “Amazing Maize,” on their ten acre corn farm, and their annual, “Pick your own Pumpkin,” patch. UMF students contributed to the existing features by implementing several seasonal-based activities.
This year the farm partnered with United Farmer Veterans of Maine. Throughout the maze various veteran advocacy groups shared the work they do to support Maine and veterans in the community. UMF students also presented handouts and health facts on veterans to participants on the wagon rides.
Students enrolled in HEA 310 (Principles of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion) are required to partake in community based projects, in order to understand what synergy and, “value added,” concepts are regarding interagency collaboration according to, community health education professor and instructor of the class, Maurice Martin.
Working in the public allows students to work together as a collegial team, according to Martin. Students focus on integrity, support and teamwork for this project. “Students who are subjected to my classes have come to expect me to treat them not as students, rather, junior colleagues and equal partners, increasing social capital and actually using their education immediately, which is incredibly important to the adult learner,” said Martin.
This year’s choice of community based work did not disappoint, according to Maggie Pomeroy a junior enrolled in 310. The goal of the event was to add value to the farm and raise health awareness, which the students successfully achieved.
“As Community Health Education students the growth is professional, but goes far beyond that,” said Martin. “Students become respected and sought after members of a close knit community, and learn to work not in a hierarchy, but as colleagues in a cause.”
The class did extremely well, according to Pomeroy, and raised awareness in all desired areas.
“This event really inspired me by how simply adding to an event we can increase physical activity, and health awareness,” said Pomeroy, adding, “A highlight of the event was seeing the smile on the farmer’s face, and him asking if we could always be here. It really showed his appreciation. The community loved it, and shared that they loved the various activities.”