Big Dill on Campus

Our Million Dollar Greenhouse

     Our campus has a very special building. Although most people on campus might have heard of it, they probably don’t know much about it. The Zillman Family Greenhouse is a one-million-dollar project. It was completed and dedicated in September of 2019 as a part of UMPI’s homecoming.

Tending the Zillman Family Greenhouse from left-to-right: Lindsay Pelletier, Larry Feinstein, Tori Raeihle. Not pictured: Wyatt Braun.

     The greenhouse has two separated growing areas. This makes growing different types of plants much easier. In the winter, the temperature inside the greenhouse is around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, it gets up to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. A few years ago, Dr. Larry Feinstein worked with the USDA for a project on oats and barley in the greenhouse on campus!   

     The greenhouse grows lots of vegetables. Right now, they have romaine lettuce, spinach, spring greens, tri-color green beans, peas and carrots. They also have seedlings started for some other fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, green peppers, tomatoes and cantaloupe. When you step inside, you can see rows of blue, one-gallon buckets filled with plants bearing fresh produce ready to be eaten.

     Besides Dr. Feinstein, there are also a few students who pitch in with the work. Lindsay Pelletier helps with the picking and weighing of the produce. She also reaches out to college students or local families who might be struggling with food insecurity. “Many college students struggle with food insecurity,” Lindsay said. “Eating locally grown produce is tasty and good for you.” 

     Freshman Wyatt Braun is working on an experiment in the greenhouse. He is using a fungus called Mycorrhizae fungi to test if the relationship of the plants and fungi will be beneficial and help the plants produce more food. So far, the fungus seems to be doing its job.

     Freshman Tori Raeihle helps with the gathering, weighing and distribution of the vegetables as well. “I send out emails to students to help them coordinate times for them to come and pick up veggies that they want. I’m also trying to include recipes that are easy for in the dorms and yummy for students to make. So be on the lookout!”

     The Zillman Family Greenhouse has lots to offer to students around campus. It is a beautiful spot on campus, although highly overlooked. If you have a chance, stop by and give it a look around. If you’d like to pick up vegetables, contact Tori Raeihle at or Larry Feinstein at

Gold of Ghana

     For those who attended University Day, you may have had the enrichening experience of learning about another culture. Gideon Osei Bonsu presented How Ghana Became a Country to a room full of people. He taught his audience about Ghana traditions, history and value. He started with the Ghana flag and the meaning of the colors and symbols “Red is for the blood of the Ghanian people that fought for their country’s independence. Yellow shows the gold that Ghana has a lot of. Until 1957, Ghana was called the Gold Coast. Green shows the forest reserves of Ghana. The black star shows the hope of African emancipation. It serves as a hope for the other African countries’ gaining independence,” Gideon said. 

Gideon presenting how Ghana became a country.

     The history of Ghana reflects the strength of the Ghanaian people during a time of slave trade and inhumane treatment from travelers foreign to Ghana. “The Ashanti/Asante people revolted against the British and defeated them in 1824,” Gideon said, “Asa means war. Asante means for the sake of war.” Ghanaians fought to expanded their empire in the 1820s. Since then, Ghana territory has had a long history of war against the British. Those who lived in and fought for Ghana did so with pride.

     “Ghana is the second largest gold producer in the world,” Gideon said, “Whoever had access to trade with the local people gained more of a profit.” The Ashanti’s most prized possession was the Golden Stool. “The colonial governor, Frederick Hodgson, demanded the Golden Stool.  The Golden Stool held meaning of the very existence of the people of Ashanti. The general wanted to give it to the British queen,” Gideon said. The disrespect of requesting the Golden Stool caused a resistance against the British. The Ashanti people hid the Golden Stool where it would be safe from the British. It was not again discovered until the 1920s by African railroad builders who stripped it of its gold and, in turn, became exiled by the ruling of the Ashanti people.

The Road to Alaska

    University Day recently made its return for the first time since 2019. Abi Davis, a senior in the Professional Communication and Journalism major, gave a presentation on her senior practicum. Her project on the outside seemed simple. But her presentation proved that it was anything but.

Abi Davis speaks on the difficulties of finding accessible hotel rooms during her presentation, The Road to Alaska.

     Abi’s professor, Dr. Jacqui Lowman, is a wheelchair user with two service dogs. In fact, she is the only employee in the University of Maine System who falls into that category. Dr. J., as her students call her, has proven many times that labels are meaningless for her. She has gone skiing, climbed Mt. Katahdin and hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail.

     In the fall of 2022, Dr. J. will add to her resume. She will make the long voyage driving from her home in Crouseville, Maine, to Alaska– and back, of course. Abi’s practicum was to hash out the logistics for her. “Dr. J. mentioned that this was a trip they were going to be taking and I said, ‘I think that’s right up my alley,’” Abi said. 

     With this task came a lot of intricate details. Every hotel and gas station had to be planned out and researched for accessibility. Information on this is extremely hard to find. “I ended up calling two big oil companies and really nagging them for information on accessibility,” Abi said in her presentation. 

     Abi’s role in Dr. J.’s trip gives them much more peace of mind. The Lowmans now know that where they are going will work for them. “Having another person with that level of expertise…. It was a great project for her and was extremely helpful,” Dr. Lowman said.     

     Abi saw the bigger picture in this project of helping Dr. J. She has also found a joy in helping others. “This class and the PCJ program as a whole have inspired my passion in advocacy and helping marginalized groups find their voices.”

     “The Road to Alaska” brought up a lot of things most of us would not think about. Driving from Maine to Alaska is daunting enough. But adding two service dogs and a wheelchair to the mix makes it even more so. But despite the many challenges, Abi couldn’t have found the project more rewarding. “Overall, my favorite part of this class was the opportunity of having the one-on-one time with Dr. J.” 

Bangladesh: History, Culture and Independence

     During University Day, UMPI student Shafil Turzo presented Bangladesh War of Independence. Those who attended learned about the culture and traditions of Bangladesh, located in south Asia. 

Shafil Presenting the history of Bangladesh.

     Bangladesh values many things, one of which being the importance of family. “In rural areas, extended family are living together. Family is the basic structure of tradition in Bangladesh.” 

     Shafil’s own grandfather was a freedom fighter. The people of Bangladesh fought for independence from the British until it was received in 1947. “We had to live under Great Britain for almost 190 years as a colonial state,” Shafil said. Even after gaining freedom apart from being a colonial state, Bangladesh experienced discrimination from Pakistan for almost 25 years. “At last, the Pakistan army surrendered in 1971,” Shafil said. Independence was then declared in Bangladesh.

     “The new nation of Bangladesh was born 50 years ago,” Shafil said. It is a tradition to celebrate a holiday called Pahela Baishakh. This holiday is similar to the New Year holiday in the United States. “Every year on April 14th is Pahela Baishakh /New Year. The people of Bangladesh celebrate with great joy,” Shafil said. Holidays are not taken lightly. Thousands of people gather in the streets to celebrate the land they love and its independence. 

     The flag of Bangladesh represents the land and the history. “The green in the flag represents the forest in our country. The red represents the blood shed in the fight for independence,” Shafil said. The circle in the middle represents the rising of Bangladesh, a shape similar to the sun, which also rises. 

     There are many other beautiful cultures, meanings and tradition in Bangladesh. Those who are lucky enough to experience the beauty of Bangladesh should enrich themselves in this culture and history in the same way as Shafil enriched those who came to his presentation.

Black Student Union Presents at University Day

     Kajuan Minter, mentored by Shirley Rush, presented to a captivated audience on University Day 2022. Flying solo, Minter spoke on behalf of UMPI’s Black Student Union (BSU). “The first ever BSU was founded in 1966 at San Francisco State University,” he said, opening his presentation. “After that, they were started on other campuses across the nation.” The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s BSU started in 2017. Former UMPI student, Riana Teixeria, was instrumental in the establishment of a BSU on UMPI’s campus. “She was an amazing, driven and passionate woman,” Minter said of his former BSU President. “Without her, I don’t think BSU would exist (at UMPI) because she was so outspoken. She really pushed for a lot of things culture-wise for Black people here. She was the start of that, her and Miss Shirley. We just try to keep it going for them.”

For more information about how to join BSU, contact Kajuan (KJ) Minter at

     BSU’s mission is to create a safe place for Black students on campus. “A lot of us are coming from different environments and situations,” Minter said. “I’m from Maryland and being here is a whole culture change. I’m from the city, I’m used to hearing sirens.” Minter says the differences in culture for him and other members of the BSU can create a sense of discomfort and not belonging. “There’re not many people like us,” he said. “You don’t know who to relate to. You don’t know who to go to. You don’t know your resources. It’s like a complete fresh start. You got to learn people and people got to learn you.”

     Now the president of the BSU himself, Minter spoke of the support that BSU provides students who might struggle with these concepts. “BSU kind of gives that safe place,” he said. “You know, ‘Me and you are from the same area.’ We can relate to each other. We understand.” 

     BSU also strives to promote a sense of belonging for Black students. “Being from the city, being comfortable,” he said. “You feel like you belong there because you see people of your color. Out here, it’s different.” He believes that not only does BSU allow students to feel as if their voices are heard, but it creates a supportive environment. “Your voice is important,” he said. “And people here will listen to it. You just have to use it. When I joined BSU, I learned that.”


Lending CDK a Paw

    UMPI English majors Bethany Tabb, Megan Waceken and Bailey Corley gave a University Day presentation on an organization most of us have not heard of. That is “Canines for Disabled Kids,” a nonprofit organization that helps place Service Animals with children and their families who could benefit from them.

Bethany Tabb, Megan Waceken, and Bailey Corley give their presentation on CDK and advocacy.

     Corley, Waceken and Tabb were all part of an Advocacy class. “At the beginning of the semester, pretty much none of us knew what advocacy was,” Bethany Tabb said. In working on their semester-long projects with CDK, however, they all would leave us with a better understanding of what advocacy really means. 

     The project involved talking with a number of CDK clients, partners and board members. The board members work Pro-bono. They put their time and energy into CDK’s cause for advocacy. “Meeting new people was my favorite part of all the process,” Bailey Corley said.

     One example the presenters gave of CDK’s impact was the story about Jacob and Murphy. Jacob has autism and was diagnosed at the age of three. He was nonverbal before getting Murphy. After CDK helped Jacob get Murphy, Jacob could speak in full sentences. For Jacob, Murphy brought out the best in him. 

     UMPI’s professor of communication and journalism, Dr. Jacqui Lowman, taught the advocacy class. Dr. Lowman is a wheelchair user who has two service dogs. Her students adore Saint and Dusty. 

     “I feel like we really learned so much just by having Dr. J. as our teacher. Because you don’t know a lot about something unless you’re experiencing it firsthand,” Megan Waceken said. 

     Overall, CDK is a humble organization whose mission is simple: help those in need. In talking to the members of CDK, these three presenters grasped a great understanding of what advocacy and helping others really means. That is, doing so out of the goodness of your heart, and not expecting anything in return.

Making the Most of What You’ve Got

     This year at University Day, we had a different kind of presentation for the exercise science department. The class didn’t settle for doing a typical presentation with a slide show up on a stage. Instead, the class members did a demonstration of different types of mobility tests for different areas of the body. 

     The processes tested multiple areas of the body. That included shoulder and core stability, shoulder and spine stability, overall flexibility, core strength and body control. The tests were three simple exercises/stretches including a pushup, shoulder mobility stretch and an overhead squat. Participants were then graded on a scale of 1-3, with 3 being the best score possible and 1 being the worst.

     After the participants completed each exercise, they received a packet with exercises and stretches to help with their individual needs for mobility and stability. The students running the demonstration also gave the participants an overview of the packet and showed them how to do the exercises that they need for their own mobility and stability needs. 

     “The goal of this packet and program is to build a program to help strengthen and compensate for injuries,” junior Monica McLaughlin said about the project. 

     The programs created recognize that people have different stability and mobility needs based on prior injuries or other factors. The goal is to be able to help anybody with their stability and mobility and strengthening.

Secrets of a JEDI Revealed

     The secret to becoming a JEDI was finally revealed in one presentation on University Day. Megan Waceken, Ricky Goupille and Abi Davis presented for their HUM 186 class. HUM 186, also known as Becoming a JEDI, explores and examines aspects of diversity, equity and inclusion and how they tie into social justice on a local, regional and global scale. Their group presentation shared their personal journeys to becoming a true JEDI. 

     Being the first group of students to take the class, Waceken and Goupille shared what they have enjoyed about their overall experience learning how to be a JEDI. “I’ve enjoyed getting to learn about a group that I did not know much about before,” Waceken said. “We learn about their challenges, successes and their life. It really puts the person back into what was once a stereotype. It brings the person back. I think that’s really important.” 

     Goupille agreed with his classmate and weighed in with his own takeaways. “It really stretched my perspective on everything,” he said. “That we’re all equally human and whatever our backgrounds are does not really matter at the end of the day.”

From the left: Ricky Goupille, Megan Waceken, and Abi Davis presenting Secrets of the JEDI.

     The presentation outlined the individual projects the group has been working on this semester. Their projects involved researching a marginalized group they do not identify with themselves. Waceken, whose older brother has a hearing impairment, chose to research people who have hearing loss or hearing impairments. Goupille, who was inspired by a friend in the military, chose to focus on veterans and the struggles of reintegration after deployment. Davis, whose sibling is an enbie, spent the semester researching the non-binary community. 

     Collectively, it was the group’s first experience presenting at University Day. “It was cool to present and be a part of the presentation,” Goupille said. Waceken felt the same. “I did have fun presenting,” Waceken said. “There’s always that small factor of being up in front of everyone and getting a little nervous. But being able to share what we’ve done is so great.”

To Renew: University Day Edition

     If you were at University Day, you may have seen the presentation To Renew or Not Renew. Those who missed it missed learning about the stance on modern education. Belen Dougherty, Kacie Chapman, Jacob Swain and Eleanor Goheen taught us to ask important questions such as, “What are institutions bringing to the communities?” and “Skills that are valued are changing. How can higher education change with it?”  These questions are designed to reflect on the state of higher education. To renew education can mean a couple of different things “I was researching to renew education in America. I was asked if I was thinking renewal to be going back to its roots or renewing as making anew.” 

Presenting: To Renew or Not Renew

     Throughout history, the education system has proven to be important and highly valued. “Not only for economic gain but also for the social and the constructive democracy in this country.” This value in education does not hold the same weight that it did in history to the present day. “I had a lot of people telling me, ‘You don’t need to go to college to get the job. You can just get the job. You don’t need to gain access to the skills because we already have the opportunity to make money without that,’” Belen said, “Why are we choosing higher education? Is it for the good life to live because you’re gaining knowledge and gaining social capital? Or is it for that piece of paper and to get a job?”

     As a group, the presenters were unanimous in the belief that education is more than just a degree. “We are not here for the degree. We are here for what we get out of it for the rest of our lives…. To think, question and challenge,” Jacob said. 

     The presentation concluded with the idea that value needs to be brought back to education. Because of this, the ideal overall answer would be to renew education to reflect learning more so than the future jobs that we are led to.

An Event to Never Forget

Dr. Herzog and Evan Zarkadas After the Presentation

     April 12 is designated as Holocaust Remembrance Day here in the United States. When the word “Holocaust” comes to our minds, we immediately think of the World War II atrocities against the minorities in Nazi Germany. The word Holocaust is associated with the terms Hitler, Jews, Concentration Camps, pain, misfortune and the most important “REMEMBER to Never Forget.” Continue reading “An Event to Never Forget”