Spruce Mountain students learn, give back, through window project

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Wednesday students from Spruce Mountain adult education were at Maine's Paper and Heritage Museum in Livermore Falls. They had measured the windows, then helped make interior storm window panels earlier in the week. Emma Lambert of Livermore is seen applying a felt strip to a panel for a tighter fit. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

LIVERMORE FALLS — Late Wednesday morning AmeriCorps volunteers and Spruce Mountain students were at Maine’s Paper and Heritage Museum to complete work on indoor storm window panels for the museum.

Students were applying strips of pre-glued felt to the edges of the double-sided plastic-and-wood framed panels to provide a tighter fit once installed. AmeriCorps Energy Efficiency Coordinator Vanessa Berry from Farmington and her Southern Maine counterpart Heather Craig were watching and giving pointers on how it should be done.

Berry said she is completing one year of AmeriCorps service with the Maine Partnership for Environmental Stewardship though the University of Maine Farmington.

She worked with United Way of the Tri-Valley Area to build window panels for low income families in the Tri-Valley Area. More than 100 were installed.

Wednesday AmeriCorps Energy Efficiency Coordinator Vanessa Berry talks with Maine’s Paper and Heritage Museum President Greg Bizier. Through a collaborative effort, Berry helped teach Spruce Mountain adult education students how to make interior storm window panels for the museum. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

Part of Berry’s work was education. She reached out to Spruce Mountain adult education director Robyn Raymond to see if students could help build window panels for district schools. Because of current renovations in the district, that wasn’t possible and the museum was contacted.

Raymond supplied names of high school students earning credits through adult education so they can graduate with their class. The students spent three days learning about weatherization, home energy efficiency and how to build window panels.

Berry said measurements of the museum’s windows were taken Monday.

Tuesday, UWTVA volunteers Dan and Amy Palmer worked with the students to build the panels.

Wednesday the students checked the fit of the panels at the museum. Any needed adjustments were done before the panels were stored until installation later this fall.

UWTVA Executive Director Lisa Laflin spoke with the students about the Community Energy Challenge program, founded in 2009, that creates the indoor window panels. Since its start, almost 600 volunteers have spent over 15,000 hours building and installing more than 2,000 interior storm window panels for 373 households and 21 public buildings.

Bill Crandall, Western Maine Community Action, shared a video of the project that replaced a trailer in Chesterville with a new energy efficiency home. Students in programs at Foster Career and Technical Education Center, Farmington, helped build the home.

“The students saw a larger scale of kids making a difference at the high school level,” Raymond said. “They had an opportunity to go into a building they may never have visited. This was multifaceted learning, with opportunities for students to feel they’re making a difference and are part of the community in Jay and Livermore Falls.”

Wednesday AmeriCorps Energy Efficiency Coordinator Vanessa Berry talks with Maine’s Paper and Heritage Museum President Greg Bizier. Through a collaborative effort, Berry helped teach Spruce Mountain adult education students how to make interior storm window panels for the museum. (Pam Harnden/Livermore Falls Advertiser)

“This couldn’t have been a more perfect situation. Students are out in the community helping to cut fuel costs here next winter,” Berry said.

Maine’s Paper and Heritage Museum President Greg Bizier said, “This is a wonderful program. It gets the students involved in the community, gives them a feeling of achievement. They’ll always have this practical knowledge.

“While giving back, the students are learning math skills, how to relate to people. Vanessa works great with them. This program should continue. It’s a perfect match for adult education.”

pharnden@sunmediagroup.net