It isn’t every day that a $40,000 grant check arrives at the River Road farm, though when it does there is cause for celebration. Today the Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals celebrates not only an extraordinary grant, originating from the Noah Foundation for Rural Education, but also a new collaborative relationship with Maine Rural Partners. Thank you to Robin Beck, Executive Director of Maine Rural Partners for her creative, energized work at the non-profit organization dedicated to advancing integrated approaches to rural development in Maine. MRP is Maine’s federally recognized state rural development council. It is also a public charity that works with tribal, federal, state, county, and local governments as well as businesses and nonprofit organizations. That work is designed to strengthen Maine’s rural communities and help them secure a sustainable, high quality of life for all, including the animals that are a significant part of rural life.
Robin Beck, with her charming Midwestern accent and barn-wise skill set recently visited at New England’s largest horse shelter, bringing along a check for an astounding sum of $40,000. The funds, originally awarded to a farm-focused nonprofit that is no longer in business were earmarked for education and animal welfare. The grant maker, The Noah Foundation asked Maine Rural Partners to identify another Maine nonprofit that could effectively use the funds for their intended purpose and Robin quickly pinpointed New England’s premier horse shelter as the perfect recipient of the grant funding. Robin, a transplant from Indiana, lived on Peak’s Island in Casco Bay for a couple of years before relocating with her spouse and daughter to rural Androscoggin county. They now homestead with various farm critters including a Romney ram, 4 Border Leicester ewes, a wether, 6 lambs and a flock of chickens.
Robin explained the mission of Maine Rural Partners, saying, “Our premier project is the Rural Scorecard, which establishes benchmarks for Maine towns based on access and affordability of healthy foods, medical care, education, energy, and internet access. We are building a tool to help Maine towns attract and retain farmers of all ages.” Meris Bickford, Chief Executive Officer of the MSSPA thanked Robin for recognizing that horse ownership and horse husbandry is and has always been a significant part of Maine’s rural landscape. MSSPA Barn Manager Jeff Greenleaf also thanked Robin for her part in directing the grant funds to helping provide public education about the humane treatment of horses and all animals. In addition, Society staff encouraged Robin to adopt the handsome Haflinger gelding Buddy who looked on as the check was presented!
Maine Rural Partners plays an invaluable role in preserving and promoting Maine’s rural life by advocating on behalf of rural Maine communities. It also empowers rural stakeholders by building capacity in rural areas, facilitating effective partnerships, and demonstrating innovative rural programs. FMI visit www.mainerural.org
The Maine State Society for the Protection of Animals, New England’s largest horse rescue is a licensed animal shelter. It sets the standard for rehabilitation of abused or neglected horses. The Society also provides humane education to public and, by invitation, to area schools and clubs. Open to the public each day from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m., the Society receives no local, state or federal funding. Its annual operating budget exceeds a million dollars and is raised through donations, grants, bequests, and fund-raising events. FMI visit www.msspa.org
- Maine Rural Partners NewsMaine Rural Partners has undergone some very positive change in the last year. We have merged with Western Mountains Alliance, said goodbye to some staff, finished several projects, and taken a hard look at what we can do for Maine’s rural communities. To that end, we are developing a project that will allow us to realize our full capability as Maine’s rural voice and collaborator.
Maine Rural Partners premier project is the Rural Scorecard. The Scorecard will establish benchmarks for towns based on access and affordability of healthy foods, medical care, telecommunications and internet access, education, and energy. Also within the Rural Scorecard will be benchmarks on quality of life issues and prosperity along with town and region wide infrastructure which can inhibit employment and access. The Rural Scorecard will provide a uniform template for communities to evaluate their quality of life and economy against similar and dissimilar communities and the state in general, to provide tangible benchmarks against which they can measure progress. We have a new partnership with the Center for Rural Sustainable Development at the University of Maine in Ft. Kent and board members with employment and volunteerism in all aspects of the Scorecard. We will be able to aggregate data and display that data in a user friendly, graded format on-line with the database of background information linked.
Please contact us if you have any questions or suggestions in regards to our new project. We’ll update this website as data and news come available.