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UMaine Cooperative Extension helps children decorate for the holidays using backyard supplies

On Wednesday Dec. 2 at 4 p.m., Sara King and Rebecca Mosley of the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension Program held a virtual workshop via Zoom where they helped teach local youth and their parents how to use evergreen branches to make fun decorations for this year’s holiday season. It was a fun, cheery event where kids and their parents got to experience some standard holiday spirit while keeping safe from the ongoing pandemic that has caused a disruption in this year’s holiday festivities. 

The event itself lasted for about 40 minutes, and kicked off with special guest Alyssa Andrews of the Rangeley Lakes Heritage Trust. Andrews defined a land trust, went into depth on her job of maintaining trails, along with providing useful tips on how to identify a spruce vs. a fir tree. The main segment of the event involved instruction on how to put together a pine and balsam fir swag. A swag is a decoration commonly seen on doorways this time of year. Mosley led this section of the event. She compiled a list of supplies needed to construct a swag in an email sent out to those who registered for the workshop, listed below.

 “Remember to gather your supplies before the workshop. Only a few branches are needed for this quick and easy project. Two or three pieces of fir, and a pine bough if available. Branches can be of varying lengths with the longest being up to 18 to 24 inches long. You will need medium weight craft wire or twine for tying your greens together and adding decorations. Pipe cleaners could be used for this purpose. Optional supplies would be ribbon for bow making and small decorative items to be tied on your swag. You will also need sturdy scissors for snipping boughs and wire cutting,” Mosley wrote in an email.

The children participating were able to share why they like nature and discuss holiday decorations. According to King, the Cooperative Extension plays an important role at UMaine and within the community.

 “We provide positive youth development through hands-on experiences, many of which are STEM-based through workshops (all of which are currently virtual), after-school and in-school programs, community partnerships, and club programs run by local volunteers,” King said.

Workshops like these are held once a month and open to the public.




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