Living in Aroostook County is not without its issues. We know that the snow piles high and summer is too short. In my walk over the last (almost) two years as executive director of this program, I’ve come across three primary myths I would like to clarify right now.
Myth: There is nothing to do.
Fact: ARE YOU KIDDING ME? There is never any shortage of things to do in Aroostook. From community plays, to free concerts, to mass community events, you honestly don’t have to look far. Here’s the thing…you will most likely have to drive just a little. The reality is that if you were in New York and wanted to see a Broadway show, it wouldn’t just magically appear in your living room. You would have to get in your car, drive to the parking garage, pay a hefty price to park, then pay for the play, and then drive home. You can do the same here…minus the hefty price. I can’t even count the number of school and community plays I’ve seen here in Aroostook County. The talent is amazing, the atmosphere is community, and the plays are often classics. Just last fall I had the chance to see Sound of Music at Presque Isle High School. It was AWESOME.
Aside from plays there are community days in literally every single place in Aroostook; there are festivals, celebrations, and concerts; there is always something to do. In the summer especially, families often have to choose which “thing” they will participate in.
Myth: There is no place to go.
Fact: I would bet that no one living in Aroostook has experienced all it has to offer. I know I haven’t, and I’m the most passionate Aroostook person I know. My dad always said that a family would never have to leave Maine to have a great vacation, and lately, I’ve thought that with the economic issues, perhaps a family wouldn’t have to leave Aroostook for a great vacation. Seriously…hunting, fishing, hiking…camping, canoeing, kayaking…mounting climbing, falls watching, site seeing, Aroostook has you covered. I recently just discovered Deboullie Mountain. What an incredible place! It has ice caves, an incredible view, and great trails. I also climbed Haystack for the first time last year. That was amazing too. I’ve floated down the Aroostook River (one of my very favorite things to do) and kayaked in tons of lakes. Still on my list? To see the falls in Island Falls, and to eat at a few “niche” restaurants. There are so many places to explore in Aroostook County; there is always somewhere to go.
Myth: There are no jobs in Aroostook County.
Fact: This is the one that really bothers me. There are jobs here. I meet with employers every single week, and all but one this year (that’s over 80 businesses folks) have told me that they have an open position. For every job you see posted, there are at least three more. (If you’re looking, check opportunitiesaroostook.com.) The difference is our job market; it’s changing. Many jobs today require some kind of postsecondary training, college or university or trade school. Because our degree attainment needs work, often the same people are going after the same jobs, which makes it seem as though there are very few. Here’s what I know…things are not going to improve because we complain.
Life here in Aroostook is truly amazing. The views, the sense of community, the schools, all play a major role in the quality of life here. I loved raising my children here, and I loved being a child here. There is no place on early I would rather be, even in the winter. We have to come together Aroostook; we have to protect this way of life, this amazing, wonderful place we call home. I know times are hard, I know money is tight, and I know that many of our friends had to leave this place. But now is the time to return. Now is the time to support organizations who are doing more than just talking about the problem. Aroostook Aspirations Initiative isn’t just talking, we are doing. We work with schools, with towns, with businesses, and most importantly with our Scholars. We attend meetings, hold events, and yes, we fundraise. We ask so we can DO.
If you want to help these three myths be replaced by fact, if you are looking for a way to give back to Aroostook County, to help the next generation take on the future, invest in AAI. We invest in our young people, in their futures, in their dreams, in their goals. By investing in them, we invest in Aroostook County. It really is an incredible thing we are doing here. We would love to have you as part of it! DONATE today! Just $10 a month could make a huge difference for us, and an even bigger difference for them!
I’m on vacation next week, so expect a short and sweet post! I’ll talk with you all soon!