From The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener
June - August 2006
by Marada Cook
Lizz Atwood speaks in a low, wry tone. "I started volunteering the second time I went to the Fair – in third grade." She has picked trash, shaped clay in the Children's Area, cleaned the mess up afterwards, made change for Give Peas a Chance (the food booth of Peace Action Maine) and hung out in Peace Action Maine's booth in the Social and Political Action Area with her mother, Debbie Atwood. This year Lizz turned thirteen.
"Last year I saw someone go by and they had on one of those bright yellow shirts that said on the back, 'Volunteer Staff'," Lizz laughed. "I said, Oh my gosh, Mom, I want one of those shirts."
Debbie Atwood is the associate director of Peace Action Maine. She has home-schooled her two daughters for the past year and a half. She has participated in the Fair since it was in Windsor, volunteering for the Maine Time Dollar Network, Maine Interfaith Power & Light, the Children's Area, the Fair Planning Team and for Peace Action Maine before becoming a staff person there. She organizes 30 to 40 volunteers for the food booth, and knows motivation when she sees it. She encourages it in her daughters.
"My mom introduced me to [fair director] Barbara Luce and said, This is Lizz, and she wants to coordinate something at the Fair next year." Luce took note of Lizz's interest in animals and paired her up with Cathy Reynolds, Livestock Area Coordinator.
"Cathy came right over and said, 'I hear you have a 16-year-old who wants to help,'" Debbie said. "Well, Lizz was eleven." Officially both Atwoods were signed up, but "Lizz was really off doing her own thing," Debbie said, "which is wonderful."
"Lizz jumped right in and was real clear about what she would and would not be able to do," Reynolds said. She gave her the task of coordinating the speakers for the Livestock Speakers Tent. "It is a small thing that takes a lot of persistence and follow-up."
Lizz called Karl Rau and Don Hoenig. She called Judith Hermon and Rick Kersbergen. She arranged speakers on topics as diverse as "The Colors and Genetics of Pigeons" to "Revitalizing Old Pastures."
"She really thought about how things come together," Reynolds said, "She made sure the talks dovetailed with the other livestock events, that everything fit."
During the Fair Margaret Hathaway-Schatz helped Lizz set up chairs, greet speakers and facilitate lectures. "There were a few people I hadn't told that I was twelve," Lizz said. "It was funny, and good that Margaret was there." Lizz attended many of the lectures. "I really enjoyed hearing Pam Paige talk about healthy eating tips for household pets," Atwood said.
Last year, Lizz wanted to be a veterinarian, and picked the Livestock Area for that reason. This year she's not so sure. She'd like to get food ready in the Common Kitchen or set up the stage for the musicians. "I definitely don't want to be a coordinator for a living," she says with a grin. "I think my brain would explode."