With almost 9,000 views in our second full week of online programming here at the Farmington Recreation Department, I am beginning to feel less like the Director of Parks and Recreation and more like a television network executive. Online programming is uncharted waters for us to say the least, and even though we may not have been fully prepared for the changes that have come to our world and department recently, we still had to try. With our new programming and instructional videos, we have started to reach not only the citizens of Farmington but also people from Kittery to Madawaska, Bethel to Bangor, Brunswick, Yarmouth and Portland. There are even people from San Diego, California and Peach Tree City, Georgia and many places in between. Recently we had a follower join us all the way from India and share the activities we are doing here in Farmington, Maine with his local community. We have received several requests from physical education teachers, recreation departments, and school districts to share what we are doing with their communities as well.
After the initial rush and chaos of canceling programs, changing schedules, losing staff, and refunding money in preparation for shutting down the Community Center, I couldn’t help but still feel there was an opportunity to keep providing activities for the people we care about. I wasn’t sure if we could really pull it off, especially on such short notice. I decided to share the idea of bringing 7 day-a-week online programming with our staff and waited for the response.
Within minutes, replies began coming in: “I would love to do that!” another, “Absolutely!” and, “What a great idea!”. Their enthusiasm encouraged me to make the decision to bring original content for our Community from the people they know here at the Recreation Department. We knew there were several virtual museum tours, virtual hikes, and arts and crafts tutorials floating around the web, but we couldn’t help but feel that it may mean more to our Community to see the people they know speaking directly to them, from the places they are familiar with.
Sometimes answering the call and venturing into the unknown can be more than you ever hoped, and here are the people I am proud to say are making it happen.
The wonderful people behind the programming and in front of the camera:
Joy is originally from Amesbury Massachusetts and is currently a Junior at the University of Maine at Farmington studying Elementary Education, International Studies, and Spanish. She is the Vice President of UMF Cheer, assists with other youth cheer programs, and loves to cook and bake, as well as pursue her love of photography in her spare time. Joy has been working with the Recreation Department for about almost two years now and has spent most of her time working in our After-School Program.
Jessica is from Bethel Connecticut and is a Senior at the University of Maine at Farmington. She is the vice president of the Early Childhood Education Club at UMF and loves to fish, hunt, and hike in her off-time. Jessica has been working for the Recreation Department for over two years now and has typically spent her time supervising children in our After-School Program; lately she has been the person who “gets it done”.
Brooke is a graduating Senior at Mount Blue High School and will be attending Merrimack College this coming Fall to pursue a degree in Exercise Science and Rehabilitation Sciences. She will also be playing on their Division 1 Field Hockey team as a goalkeeper. Brooke spends most of her free time exercising, training for field hockey, being outdoors, and spending time with family and friends. She has been working for the Recreation Department for almost a year now; she has been one of the children’s favorites and has the most contagious laugh!
Jennifer is originally from Maine, is the mother of two girls and has been coaching and refereeing youth sports off and on over the last 15 years. She loves to paint, exercise, and run. She has completed several 5k’s and 2 half marathons. Jennifer began working for the Recreation Department almost a year ago now and has been a tremendous asset to the Parks and Recreation Department. She is a teacher at a private school in Farmington and has worked part-time for our department this past year in many different capacities, from an Office Assistant to Program Director.
Griffin grew up in the Farmington area, graduated from Mt. Blue High school, then went on to earn a degree in Film Production from Emerson College. He is currently an English/Language teacher at Mt. Blue Middle School as well as a Soccer/Basketball/Tennis coach at the High School. He loves watching and making films, playing sports and spending time with his pug, Duncan. Griffin has either run or assisted running programs for the Recreation Department for 12 years now!
Zac is also from the Farmington area and graduated from Castleton University with a degree in Physical Education and minor in Coaching. He is currently a Physical Education teacher at Mt. Blue High School as well as a Tennis and Basketball coach at Mt. Blue, and also the Boys Soccer coach at Leavitt High School. Zac loves being outside and participating in a variety of different sports. Zac has been working off and on for our department running seasonal programs like his brother now for 14 years! The only employee who has been with us longer than Zac is his father Fred Conlogue who is closing in on his 21st year!
We have had many others from our community that have either helped or are in the process of lending us a hand, including Sue Jones, local Post Master; Patty Cormier, Director of the Maine Forest Service; Brandon Melville, head lacrosse coach at Maine Maritime Academy; Eddie Yuen; Jody Harmon, varsity field hockey coach at Mt. Blue; Dr. Stephen Bien; Dr. Susy Sanders; along with many others from our community who support what we do. These are unprecedented times and we are seeing amazing things happen in our Recreation Department. I am so proud to work (now remotely) with each and every one of these individuals. Our staff are still learning as we go, but in a time where all you typically see is bad news or negativity, I am thankful that they have filled my life with hope and some of the most positive and memorable times I have had the pleasure of knowing in my career thus far. If you get a chance, please thank them! Some of them don’t feel comfortable in front of the camera, but they are doing it for you! We have planned out the next 8 weeks of online programing with everything from couch to 5K programs, Easter Events, live online dance parties and cooking, talks with doctors, clinical psychologists, and other professionals, as well things like weekly exercise, origami, picture finds, and challenges. If you are in need of anything…you may just find what you’re looking for at: Facebook.com/farmingtonrec
Feel free to send us a private message and let us know how we are doing. As I said, we are here for you and we can always improve. We are proud to be serving our community, no matter how broad that definition has turned out to be!
-Matthew L. Foster, CPRP
Director of Parks and Recreation
Town of Farmington, ME