2023 Keynote Speakers
We are excited to announce our 2023 keynote speakers: Ryan Parker, Chief Clarissa Sabattis and Jac Wypler. Join us each day of the Fair at 11 a.m. on the Common for this year’s keynote addresses. Keynotes will also be streamed live on WERU Community Radio 89.9 FM.
“Kids Learn Best When They Learn by Doing—Experiential Learning for All Maine Students”
FoodCorps is a national organization that partners with schools and communities throughout Maine (and across the nation) to connect kids to healthy food. FoodCorps has set the ambitious but vital goal that by 2030 every student in the nation, regardless of race, zip code or socio-economic status, will have access to universally free nutritious meals, and universal access to food education. As the state’s motto, “Dirigo,” indicates, Maine is leading the country in these efforts. Maine became one of the first two states to pass universal free meals legislation in the 129th legislative session. And this year, thanks to FoodCorps and its partners, Maine is poised to pass legislation that is the first of its kind in the country, LD 1682–An Act to Create the Maine Experiential Education Program, that will see every school district in the state have the opportunity to create school garden and food teaching positions. This is all based on the success FoodCorps has had in helping schools across Maine create similar positions so every kid can learn the way kids learn best: by doing. From Portland and Lewiston to Stacyville and Stratton, once schools and communities see their kids learning outside, in school gardens and orchards, they recognize the value and want it to continue. Come learn how you can help your local school create fully sustained garden/food educator positions.
Ryan Parker is a board member for Full Plates Full Potential and the Maine School Garden Network; a leadership council member for Maine Farm to Institution; and a cofounder of the Maine Farm & Sea to School Institute.
Photo by Emily Parker.
“Wabanaki Food Sovereignty and Community Health”
Chief Sabattis has worked in support of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians in Maine and throughout the United States. Her work to restore sovereignty and self-governance, not only for the Maliseet Indians but also for the four other tribes in Maine, has already resulted in more control in their public health infrastructure by moving the management of their district’s public health liaison to Wabanaki Public Health & Wellness, which helps ensure all five tribes are best served by the infrastructure. She also coordinated a mobile clinic for tribal members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She believes in the vitality of her community and is looking forward to working more on Wabanaki food sovereignty in her second term as Chief. The Houlton Band of Maliseet already have community gardens and are growing raspberries and other crops and are looking to expand their food production and food processing infrastructure in order to create more access to healthy and traditional foods for their tribal community.
Those who know Chief Sabattis regard her as fair, a hard worker, and someone whose values drive her in supporting the health and vitality of her community. In her keynote, Chief Sabattis will discuss the importance of Wabanaki tribal and food sovereignty and its interconnectedness with community well being. Recent progress and challenges will also be discussed with actionable next steps on how we can support tribal self-determination and food security.
Photo by Joe Cyr.
“Farmer Mental Health”
Jac Wypler has worked in agriculture for over a decade—on farms, through nonprofits and in education. After earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Dartmouth College, focusing their thesis on a local food system in Vermont, Wypler worked on farms in the Northeast and the Midwest. Wypler then received a doctorate in sociology at University of Wisconsin–Madison, researching queer sustainable farmers. Wypler’s ethnographic and survey-based research projects highlight the barriers queer farmers face related to heteropatriarchy and how queer farmers build networks of queer farmer peers/mentors and local neighbors to support their success and sustainability. While researching LGBTQ+ farmers in Australia, Wypler became passionate about farmer stress, wellness and mental health.
Wypler currently serves as the farmer mental health director with National Young Farmers Coalition, supporting Cultivemos—also known as the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network in the Northeast (FRSAN-NE). Funded through the 2018 Farm Bill, Cultivemos is a racially equity-driven and farmer-and farmworker-informed network dedicated to advancing the well-being of agriculture producers, workers and their families through trainings, resources, helplines and peer-to-peer opportunities. The network focuses on structural root causes to farm stress, prioritizes communities disproportionately impacted and harmed by these root causes, and regrants funds to farmers and ag service providers to address needs in their communities.
In this keynote, Wypler will address mental health, queerness, and their intersections in agricultural communities.
Photo by Emily Mills.
Past Keynote Addresses
Listen to the Keynote addresses from the 2022 Common Ground Country Fair.