The University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s NorthStar 4-H Youth Mentoring program, based at Bryant Pond in Woodstock, recently was gifted $120,000 over six years by Norway Savings Bank.

The gift was made as part of UMaine Extension’s Adopt a Cohort fundraising campaign to support individual classes in the mentoring program aimed at raising aspirations of students in rural Maine.

“We are proud to support this important program which has already made an incredible impact in the lives of participating students,” said Dan Walsh, CEO of Norway Savings Bank, according to a news release from Lyndsey Smith at UMaine. “It’s impressive that Northstar is able to provide a six-year program, which is going to bring long-lasting memories and positive experiences that some of these kids may not have had otherwise.”

NorthStar is a hands-on mentoring program that connects young people with caring adults through community engagement, cultural exchange, and adventure challenge and leadership. With start-up support from the Rural Futures Fund, the NorthStar model follows students over a six-year period that begins in the seventh grade and follows students into adulthood.

The Bryant Pond program is one of UMaine Extension’s four 4-H Camp and Learning Centers across the state. Students and their adult mentors participate in outdoor adventures such as paddling and camping, and educational opportunities like the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership. They also work on building financial, cultural, health and environmental literacy.

“This commitment of support from Norway Savings Bank has a real impact on the success of the NorthStar program,” said Ryder Scott, executive director of UMaine Extension 4-H Camp and Learning Centers. “One of the program’s main goals is to expand the horizons of kids right here in rural western Maine by showing them what’s possible. The cohort of seventh graders this gift supports will have meaningful experiences with caring mentors for the next six years. When these kids graduate, they’ll be resilient, confident young adults with career and college goals.”


Studies consistently show that rural youth lag behind their urban/suburban peers in college aspirations and attainment. They also face significant risk factors associated with poverty, isolation, substance use and domestic abuse. The NorthStar program serves approximately 60 students each year with support from 12 volunteer mentors and many local organizations. Mentors support students in community building, academics, hands-on skills, job searches and college preparation.

For more information, contact Smith at 207-890-8625 or



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