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University of Maine at Fort Kent (UMFK) Foundation Achieves Largest Donation in the University's History

Irving Woodlands, LLC Commits $1 Million to Forest Research and Development of People

FORT KENT, ME:  La Cloche de Fer (The Iron Bell) is a comprehensive fundraising campaign that began in January 2012.  A joint effort of the University of Maine at Fort Kent and the UMFK Foundation, it has exceeded its $3 million target, raising over $5.7 million for endowed scholarships, alternative energy capital projects, and academic stewardship.

During campaign, the UMFK Foundation set records for endowed scholarship gifts with two endowed scholarships:  the first for $200,000 and the second for $445,000.  The campaign’s lead gift - the largest in University history - is the $1 million endowment from Irving Woodlands, LLC.

The tremendous campaign results were led by a 22-member board of directors.  Over the past two years the UMFK Foundation has mobilized hundreds of volunteers from the university faculty, staff, students, and members of surrounding communities. 

The University of Maine at Fort Kent is Maine’s most rapidly growing public university.  As part of its vision as a model “rural university”, the University of Maine at Fort Kent places a priority on rural sustainable development in the form of economic growth and workforce development throughout the rural regions of Maine -  especially the forested region of northern Maine in which UMFK resides.

"This historic gift from Irving Woodlands, LLC positions the University of Maine at Fort Kent to establish a center of excellence which will be a model throughout New England for forest operations training and outcomes-based, sustainable forest management activities," said Dr. Wilson G. Hess, President of the University of Maine at Fort Kent.  “We understand the role our forests play as a vital economic engine and also a living laboratory for research and innovation of new technologies and best practices.  We believe this gift is a harbinger of an ongoing collaboration with Irving Woodlands, LLC which will firmly establish northern Maine as a nexus of world-class models of efficiency and effectiveness in sustainable forestry operations."

The University of Maine offers the only accredited Applied Forest Management program in New England, including related forestry, business management, and geospatial engineering support.  This is in addition to a network of educational partners that provide a comprehensive career ladder for forest industry training and education.

Through the results of the La Cloche de Fer Campaign, the university has also become a leader in the application of alternative biomass heating technology – with the heat source for all 12 major buildings and over 95% of its floor space being converted to biomass fuels.  The National Science Foundation is also sponsoring research into biomass fuel sources and studies of domestic and small commercial applications of biomass boilers and furnaces.

"UMFK is a valued and vital partner in the continuing education of our current team and the building of our future workforce," said Jim Irving, Co-Chief Executive Officer of J.D. Irving, Limited.  "As a company that has proudly worked in Aroostook County for almost 70 years, we are pleased to grow our relationship with the university with this research center of excellence focused on sustainable, outcome-based forestry.  This initiative will collaborate with, support, and build on the work we are doing with the Cooperative Forest Research Unit and the University of Maine in Orono.

"John Martin, long-time state representative and current Director UMFK Center for Rural Sustainable Development along with Dr. Hess, President of UMFK, have been tireless champions in growing the potential of people and prosperity of northern Maine.  We congratulate them, and all the UMFK Foundation volunteers, for their efforts," Irving said.

Specifically the Irving Woodlands, LLC $1 million contribution to the UMFK Foundation will go to work in the following areas:

- Training, development, and skills improvement for forest operations and workers
- Long-term evaluation, assessment, and monitoring of outcome-based forest management in northern Maine
- Evaluation, assessment, and improvement of landscape level strategies and on-the-ground practices to protect water quality and maintain healthy wildlife populations and biodiversity levels
- A potential endowed Professorship in Forestry at the University of Maine at Fort Kent

This builds on the $1 million Chair in Forest Ecosystem Health the company established at the University of Maine at Orono in 1997.

Left to right:  Josh Philbrook, Irving Woodlands, LLC (IWLLC); Ken Cyr, IWLLC; Doug Cyr, IWLLC; James Roy, President of UMFK Foundation; Anthony Hourihan, IWLLC; Wilson Hess, President of University of Maine at Fort Kent; John Martin, Director UMFK Center for Rural Sustainable Development; Toby Pineo, IWLLC; Peter Tabor, IWLLC; and Roy Bernard, IWLLC