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 victoria.raeihle@maine.edu or Larry Feinstein at larry.feinstein@maine.edu

How Two Young Journalists Saved Democracy

    In 1976, the film “All the President’s Men” was released. It told the story of two Washington Post journalists who set out to uncover the truth about the Watergate affair. Journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward rapidly uncover a massive cover-up when no one they approach will disclose any information. Bernstein and Woodward eventually end up on a chase in search of a frightening truth. While seemingly grasping at straws, they never give up on their investigation to find the truth.

     They are finally able to publish the first story because of their perseverance. The story accuses high-ranking officials close to the president of engaging in criminal activity. As a result, the two reporters find themselves between a rock and a hard place. “Not that there’s a lot riding on this. Only the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and maybe the future of our democracy,” Ben Bradlee, executive editor of the Washington Post, said.  That became one of the most famous–if not the most famous—line from the movie. It shows us just how truly significant this investigation was. If it went wrong, the entire Constitution could’ve been uprooted.

     Almost every government department was involved in the cover-up. They tried to prevent the Washington Post from publishing their articles. If they had succeeded, it would have made a completely different narrative for our country’s views on freedom of speech and freedom of press. 

     Bernstein, Woodward and Bradlee risked their lives by going out and getting the story. Watergate would not have been a national scandal if they hadn’t done so. They continued to carry the news and to write and publish their stories that led all the way to the president. Without that, the rule of freedom of the press would have been broken.  This would have torn down one of America’s founding freedoms in the process.

     The plot of “All The President’s Men” is unique. The entire film revolves around the search for any kind of information. Although Woodward and Bernstein are aware that there is some kind of scandal going on, they find it difficult to craft a plausible story with credible witnesses. When they eventually get their hands on the desired information, things only become worse. 

     But they persevere and through courage and hard work, they uncover one of the most serious challenges to U.S. democracy of the 20th century.  That work offers lessons that continue to shine through time.

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.

Unforgettable Glimpses of Life

     Over the years, many different photojournalists have won Pulitzer Prizes for their amazing photographs of historical events or stories that captivate the people. But to the people taking the pictures, it’s not a photo contest. According to Pulitzer winner William Snyder, “It’s not a photography contest.  It’s about telling some of the biggest stories of the year.” Here are some of the most compelling photographs over the decades.

     In the 1940s, the world was faced with the pressing issues of Germany and World War II. The U.S. initially decided to not get involved. Then Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. After that, we went into all-out war with the rest of the world. Troops spent months and years fighting overseas in the Pacific and various parts of Europe for freedom. In the photo “Iwo Jima, 1945,” we see U.S. soldiers raising up the American flag on the battlefield on the island of Iwo Jima. They seemed to claim the island as theirs during the island-hopping operations. Photos such as this are so important because they show us history right before our eyes. Pulitzer winner John White said, “It’s a front seat to history.”

     In the late 1960s, the Vietnam War was still raging on. The U.S. had gotten somewhat involved to stop the spread of Communism, but were failing in their help. In 1969, the picture of the “Saigon Execution” was taken. A prisoner who had been dragged out of a building and was being walked down the street was being photographed by Eddie Adams. Eddie said he was told that when a prisoner was brought out in sight he was to, “photograph and photograph until he was no longer in sight.” As they were walking, a Vietnamese general pulled out a pistol and pointed it at the prisoner’s head. Eddie pulled out his camera and took the photo right as the prisoner was killed. After, he continued to go on about his day because that was war. 

     In Seattle in 1975, there was a house on a waterfront that broke out into a huge fire. Firefighters were called to respond and began combatting the fire immediately. As the fire continued to rage on, the firefighters kept on battling the fire and holding their ground so it wouldn’t continue to spread. Photojournalist and Pulitzer winner Jerry Gay took a photo of some of the firefighters during the fire. As they sat down, tired, weathered and beaten down by the fire, they looked like soldiers who were fighting a war for a country. They were giving everything they had to save this house and make sure it could survive. 

     In 1980, photojournalist and Pulitzer winner Skeeter Hagler went down to Texas to photograph some local cowboys. He went down with his tennis shoes and T-shirt on to ask if they would be all right with it. Skeeter said, “Once you make friends with them, which isn’t easy, you’re friends for life.” Skeeter was basically invisible to the cowboys. He got to photograph their everyday lives and bring these cowboys to life. Skeeter captured the cowboys best when he said, “Cowboys are out there roping cattle all day. And for their pass time, they rope more cattle.”

     In 1992, the Olympics were back around. This time, they were taking place in Barcelona. The atmosphere of the Olympics is something unmatchable. This is where the best of the best athletes come to compete every four years. To capture these moments on film is a huge opportunity. Pulitzer winners Ken Geiger and William Snyder had an unlimited amount of film and were ready to shoot everything they could. Ken Geiger said, “You’re always having to press that shutter before something happens.” William Snyder’s advice was, “Get out ahead of it…. Anticipate. That’s what you’re after.”

All of these photos capture something amazing in them. They each have a story to tell, whether it’s a good story, a sad story, a story that provokes anger or anything else. In the words on Pulitzer winner John White, “Everyone has a story.  And we sing their song.  If we don’t do it—if the journalist doesn’t do it—who’s going to do it?”

Senior Spotlight: Miranda Cashmere Washinawatok

How one person leaves behind a legacy.

     This year, as part of the class of 2022, Miranda Cashmere Washinawatok will be graduating from UMPI and moving on to the next chapter of her life. Miranda is receiving a degree in Environmental Science and a certificate in GIS Technology.

Miranda Cashmere Washinawatok with her mom.

     While at UMPI, volleyball was a large part of Miranda’s career. As a freshman and sophomore, she was chosen to be captain of the volleyball team. As a junior and senior, the offers were still available to her. Miranda, however, declined so that she could focus on school for her last two years. 

     “I definitely think in my last two year here, I’ve transitioned into teaching the younger players and teammates how to see the game from my perspective,” Miranda said. “I’m still looked up to as a leader, just in a different sense.” 

     Miranda is incredibly passionate about the sport of volleyball. She uses that to help teach and encourage her younger teammates. She said, “Volleyball is a big deal in my life. I’ve tried to implement my teaching and my IQ through stories and talking with my teammates. I try to share my help as if I was in their shoes.” Miranda also mentioned that she encourages her teammates to step out of their comfort zone and try things that are not as normal as usual

     Over time, Miranda has also learned a lot from the game that she has been teaching for so long. “You must learn how to play with new players and with new coaches. It’s a lot of learning throughout the four years,” Miranda said. 

UMPI Baseball Players Heading to the Big Stage

     This year, Major League Baseball has gone into what is called a “lockout.” This means that Major League Baseball and the Player’s Association, a group that protects the player’s rights, could not come to an agreement on terms for the 2022 season. The MLB has canceled the season until terms are agreed upon. This means that players can’t play, can’t get paid and can’t have much contact with their teams.

     Because of this, the MLB is looking for replacement players who can come in to fill the positions of the professional players for little to no money at all. Three of UMPI’s baseball players–Timmy Burns, Logan McDougall and Spencer Harmon–were chosen as replacement players! 

     “This is a really exciting opportunity for us,” captain Timmy Burns said. “Not only is this great for the three of us who were chosen. It also brings lots of publicity and recognition to UMPI’s baseball program.” 

     The players will meet in Florida for a late spring training since the season is delayed. Spencer Harmon couldn’t believe that he was chosen in the process. He said, “I honestly entered the whole thing as a joke. I never thought I would have been picked to go play in the MLB!” 

     Spencer has only been at UMPI since this past fall. So for him, this means picking up and leaving for the second time in a year. “I think it’s another change I will be able to adjust to. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us, so I have to take it.” 

     Along with Spencer, Logan McDougall joined the team this semester. This means he will be leaving after only being here for a matter of months. “I’m still shocked, honestly,” McDougall said. “It’s another big change that I have to make. But since I have a couple of guys whom I know with me, I think I’ll be OK.” 

     Head Coach Roger Stinson was more than proud of his players for being chosen. “These guys have worked extremely hard. I never thought this was a possibility. But I wish them nothing but the best.” 

     As these players get ready to go train for the big leagues, wish them luck and get ready to follow some of UMPI baseball on TV!

Volleyball Setting Up for Success

     UMPI’s Volleyball team has just begun to enter their off-season this semester. This means time to begin preparing for the 2022 fall season! Some of that preparation begins with looking back on this past season to see where there was success. They also look at where work needs to be done and what challenges they faced. For sophomore Alondra Lopez, that meant overcoming a sprained ankle for the third time. Even with that, Lopez said she had a lot of fun. “I loved being able to still be there and still support my team. Even when we’re injured, we might feel like we can’t do much, but I got to hype up my girls.”  For Lopez, being a supportive teammate from the sideline is just as important as being on the court making plays, which is an underrated quality of a great teammate.

     For the off-season, the team gets together to scrimmage in Gentile and work on specific drills. They also work on keeping their team chemistry strong. Sophomore Bailey LaPlante mentioned that she loves the scrimmages. “I feel like we all put in 100 percent,” she said. “We all work super hard…. Working with each other to fix what we can.” They also have been focused on working as a unit together and have been seeing the growth that they all have been making together. Senior Miranda Cashmere said, “It was so awesome to see girls just step up as players, confidently…. I’m super proud to see that.” 

     The team is really excited for the upcoming season next fall. “I feel really confident,” LaPlante said. “With the group of girls we have now and how hard we’re all working, we can have a good season next year.” Lopez’ thoughts on the upcoming season were, “It’s been going awesome. Everyone is reaching more and more and trying to push themselves more. It’s great to see. I feel like everyone improves every time we step on the court.” 

     The volleyball team is coming off a 4-17 season this year. They are looking to improve on working as a unit and their own individual skill sets to be ready for the upcoming fall. As the team prepares for the upcoming season, be on the lookout next fall as the UMPI volleyball team looks to be better than ever before. And if you see them preparing along the way, wish them good luck!