Maine-FOREST Planning Grant
In late November 2022 through early January 2023 the Maine Planning Grant team for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) conducted knowledge-sharing conversations with 11 leaders in the field (subject matter experts) who spoke about forest industry opportunities, workforce education, research, conservation, policy making and Indigenous engagement. The conversations were anonymous, and each lasted 45 minutes to an hour. Overall, experts were tremendously enthusiastic about the opportunity ahead, and collaborating with the EPSCoR team.
Experts hailed from industry coalitions, government, land conservation, manufacturing organizations, non-university research institutes, non-degree training organizations, and universities. Tied closely to the Center for Research on Sustainable Forests (CRSF), we did not meet with wood science (e.g., nanocellulose) engineers, public schools or loggers, as those were already represented in CRSF’s current work and partnerships.
Experts shared gaps they saw in research and workforce capacity (e.g., skill and staffing). They described solutions they and their peers were undertaking. experts also shared their aspirations for the social and scientific dimensions of the EPSCoR grant, and stated how it would expand capacities, awareness, investment, community well-being, and policy-innovation.
On July 10, 2023, members of the University of Maine’s EPSCoR team were invited to attend a meeting of the Forest Opportunity Roadmap / Maine (FOR/Maine) Executive Council in Augusta, ME to discuss opportunities and needs that National Science Foundation (NSF) research funding might address in the context of Maine’s forest sector and related rural communities. Read the meeting report: Forest Opportunities in Maine.