Poland Spring “Good Neighbor Grant” Supports University of Southern Maine Environmental Science Watershed Research and Internships

Poland Spring, Poland Spring Water, Poland Spring Water Maine

POLAND, ME | NOVEMBER 13, 2018 – Continuing its long-time support of STEM education and research at the University of Southern Maine (USM), Nestlé Waters North America, through its Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, has awarded a $25,000 “Good Neighbor Grant” to the USM Foundation. The grant will fund an upland watershed monitoring project conducted by the University’s Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) program.

“At Nestlé Waters, we are committed to the sustainability of our natural resources and the environment, both in our own operations and the communities where we live and work,” said Heather Printup, Community Relations Manager for Poland Spring. “Our ‘Good Neighbor Grants’ are awarded to projects with a focus on education, environmental conservation and other endeavors that help improve the future of Maine. We can’t think of a more appropriate recipient than USM’s Environmental Science and Policy program.”

The gift will specifically support internships and assistantships for ESP students working on the research project, located within the Tannery Brook Watershed/USM “Smart Forest” on the USM Gorham campus. The project entails building a network of environmental sensors that will be located throughout the watershed/forest. The sensors will provide researchers with better insight regarding the impacts of climate change and land use on small forests and mini-watersheds. Data collected at the site can be remotely accessed by the public, including educators, researchers, and interested “citizen scientists.”

Front Row, left to right: Heather Printup, Community Relations Manager, Poland Spring and USM alumni; Robert Sanford, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy; Ainsley Wallace, President & CEO, USM Foundation; Glenn Cummings, Ed.D., President of USM. Back Row, left to right: Josh Rowe, National Resource Supervisor, Poland Spring and USM alumni; Jeremy Qualls, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Science, Technology and Health; Joe Staples Assistant Professor of Environmental Science.

“All of the fieldwork needed to develop and maintain the environmental sensor network will be done by our ESP students,” said Robert Sanford, Ph.D., professor, and chair of the Department of Environmental Science and Policy. “Poland Spring has stepped up as an important partner in this venture, enabling us to make paid watershed assistantships available to our students, who benefit from both financial support and valuable workforce experience.”

“USM is dedicated to working with the community to address real-world problems while imbuing our students with technical workforce skills,” said Jeremy Qualls, dean of the College of Science, Technology, and Health at USM. “Poland Spring’s gift is very impactful. It helps us get students engaged in the field and widens the pathway to STEM jobs here in Maine.”

Ainsley Wallace, president, and CEO of the USM Foundation said, “This investment by Poland Spring recognizes USM’s central role and commitment to growing Maine’s skilled and educated workforce. We are very grateful for this generous gift and the opportunities it affords our undergraduates.”

Since 2000, Poland Spring has given more than $7 million to local Maine community organizations, causes, and events through the Good Neighbor Grant program. Past grant recipients, include: The Ecology School, Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Poland Spring Preservation Society, The Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program, Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond, Camp Susan Curtis in Stoneham, and the Franklin County Animal Shelter in Farmington, as well as numerous other organizations.

About Poland Spring

Established in 1845, Poland Spring® Brand 100% Natural Spring Water has invested in Maine and created jobs using an abundant, renewable resource. The brand, part of Nestlé Waters North America Inc., operates three Maine bottling plants in Poland, Hollis, and Kingfield. Additionally, Poland Spring maintains spring sources in Fryeburg, Poland, Dallas Plantation, Poland Spring, Pierce Pond Township, Kingfield, Denmark, Hollis and Lincoln, Maine. Poland Spring also:

  • Employs nearly 900 full-time and seasonal workers across the state, contributing nearly $49 million to the economy in annual payroll;
  • Spends over $135 million directly with other Maine companies each year; and
  • Invested over $7 million in community giving since 2000 to support schools, local non-profits, fire and rescue, environmental conservation, and many other local and statewide causes.


The University of Southern Maine Department of Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) is an interdisciplinary program offering a BA in Environmental Planning and Policy and a BS in Environmental Science. An accelerated program allows students in the BA program to work toward a master’s degree in Policy, Planning, and Management. For students who wish to become teachers, there is also a pathway leading to secondary science certification. The program also offers minors and/or certificates in Environmental Sustainability, Applied Energy, Environmental Science, Environmental Education, and Environmental Policy & Analysis.

About the USM Foundation

The University of Southern Maine Foundation engages with USM alumni, employer partners, and the wider community to encourage philanthropic support for the long-term benefit of the University and its students. The Foundation solicits and secures private funds for the sole benefit of the University and its mission. Acting as an independent, 501 (c)(3) corporation, the Foundation provides quality programs and services to USM alumni, donors and supporters and serves as the primary fundraising vehicle for the University of Southern Maine.


Media Contact:

For Poland Spring:

Heather Printup, Community Relations Manager,


For USM Foundation:

Erin Macey

Director of Stewardship & Donor Relations


Whole Oceans to Grow Atlantic Salmon with Land-Based Aquaculture Operation – Purchases Mill Site in Bucksport, Maine

Whole Oceans, Atlantic Salmon, recirculating aquaculture system , Bucksport Maine, Rob Piasio

Maine-based company has already pre-sold 100% of production for the next ten years

PORTLAND, Maine | February 23, 2018When Whole Oceans’ CEO Rob Piasio was growing up in Yarmouth, Maine, he knew that one day, he would help his state grow and prosper.

After more than six years of research and preparation, Rob is leading efforts to launch Whole Oceans, a state-of-the-art recirculating aquaculture system (RAS), that will raise Atlantic salmon on the site of the former Verso paper mill in the heart of Bucksport, Maine.

At full production, Whole Oceans will create hundreds of direct jobs and invest more than $250 million in Bucksport.

RAS is an entirely land-based technology that optimizes growing conditions that help fish thrive. Water is continuously recycled through ultra purification systems, creating a clean, healthy growing environment that eliminates the use of antibiotics. The result is an earth-friendly, superior grade salmon.

Whole Oceans, Bucksport Maine,
Rendering courtesy John Gutwin of Pepperchrome

“The time for RAS has arrived and Whole Oceans will make Bucksport a global leader in sustainable Atlantic salmon production,” according to Piasio. “But this story is much bigger than just Whole Oceans. This story is also about the resiliency and determination of towns throughout Maine that make projects like this possible. Whole Oceans is entering a long-term partnership with the community of Bucksport, a responsibility we accept with the greatest care, and together we will strive to make Whole Oceans a source of pride every single day.”

The arrival of Whole Oceans is welcome news to Maine Governor Paul R. LePage, whose administration and regulatory agencies have been monitoring the progress of Whole Oceans.

“’Maine is open for business’ has been my motto from day one,” the Governor said. “Whole Oceans and its Maine-grown team will be an important addition to our state’s economy and transformative for Bucksport.”

Whole Oceans is confident that land-based Atlantic salmon is a product in high demand. How confident? Whole Oceans already has pre-sold 100% of its total production for the next 10 years.

According to Ben Willauer, Whole Oceans’ Director of Corporate Development, Freeport resident, and current board member of the Nature Conservancy of Maine, “In all my years in investing, I have never seen a more obvious and compelling business model than Whole Oceans. All aspects of this plan have been carefully considered, with an uncompromising dedication to ‘doing the right thing’ toward every decision, at every level. It is with great pride and purpose I am able to help bring this project to Bucksport.”

Whole Oceans is garnering praise for its desire to bring an industry that provides both prosperity and environmental sustainability to Maine.

“Whole Oceans’ investment is exciting news for Maine’s coastal economy and communities,” said Senator Susan Collins“Rob Piasio and his team are bringing innovative, sustainable jobs to Bucksport while providing the world with high-quality, wholesome salmon.”

“Aquaculture is a centerpiece of our state’s ocean economy.  As a result of careful planning and effort, Whole Oceans is bringing a new opportunity and economic diversification to a former industrial site, creating renewed economic vitality and jobs,” said Senator Angus King. “The innovative Whole Oceans aquaculture facility will reflect our ocean heritage in a new, environmentally sustainable manner.”

The Whole Oceans team understands that keeping Maine beautiful and maintaining its natural resources are vital. “The logic behind Whole Oceans is simple: modern RAS technology provides a truly win/win outcome,” states Piasio. “Over time, Whole Oceans’ mission is to capture 10% of the U.S. Atlantic salmon market using only earth-friendly technologies. We will create hundreds of jobs and cement Maine’s leadership in the future of land-based aquaculture.”

“To execute our plan, we have assembled a team of global leaders in land-based technology, including Billund Aquaculture based in Denmark and the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute in West Virginia,” according to Piasio. “The Whole Oceans team brings together the world’s longest and unmatched track record of success.”

True to its working roots, Bucksport and its town leaders have pulled together to redefine and refocus the community following the shuttering of the Verso paper mill. When Rob approached Bucksport town manager Sue Lessard with his proposal to repurpose the abandoned mill site, the response was enthusiastic and welcoming.

“We have been working diligently for the past two years to find businesses willing to invest significant capital and provide good jobs in the region,” said Lessard. “Along with Rich Rotella, Bucksport’s Community and Economic Development Officer, we have been speaking with the Whole Oceans team for some time and are excited they have chosen Bucksport for this amazing facility. This business will provide an environmentally friendly industrial component for Bucksport while utilizing the assets of the former mill site. It will be an important partner in helping to move the community forward as we improve our economic vitality and diversity.”

Whole Oceans is breaking ground in Bucksport in 2018 and is already an important part of Maine’s future. And the future is now.


Fast facts:

  • Whole Oceans will produce 50,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon per year using entirely land-based technology.
  • Whole Oceans has pre-sold 100% of production for 10 years.
  • At full capacity, Whole Oceans will create hundreds of direct jobs and invest over $250 million in Bucksport.
  • Whole Oceans plans to begin construction in August 2018.
  • Americans consume more than $2 billion of Atlantic salmon every year.
  • Virtually all Atlantic salmon consumed in the U.S. is farmed.
  • More than two million metric tons of Atlantic salmon were produced globally in 2017, generating more than $10 billion in sales.
  • More than 95% percent of Atlantic salmon consumed in the U.S. is imported from foreign offshore cage farms.

About Whole Oceans

Whole Oceans is a Maine-based company poised to become America’s premier producer of sustainably farm-raised Atlantic salmon in state-of-the-art, environmentally responsible, recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018. For more information visit www.wholeoceans.com.


Rendering courtesy John Gutwin of Pepperchrome







Truths and Myths About Online Reviews

corporate image building, online reviews, The Knight Canney Group, David Streitfeld, Rotten Tomatoes

Corporate image building is like filling out your data sheet at the doctor’s. But instead of again reminding your primary care physician that you’re allergic to NyQuil, always wear a seatbelt, and have no family history of the vapors, you’re reinforcing in your customers’ minds what makes your business compelling.

One of the surefire ways to build your corporate image is via online reviews. We all know that when customer satisfaction or dissatisfaction are posted for the universe to see, customers either will flock to your Small Engine Repair &VCR Rental or avoid you as fast as Keira Knightley shuns sugary soft drinks.

But not so fast. According to the Oxford University Press Journal of Research, a survey of 344,157 Amazon ratings of 1,272 products in 120 product categories found that there was “a substantial disconnect between the objective quality information that online user ratings actually convey and the extent to which consumers trust them as indicators of objective quality.” And to further damn with faint praise, “Consumers heavily weight the average rating compared to other cues for quality like price and the number of ratings.”

The good news: a handful of positive Yelp or Amazon ratings could make your company or product look like a winner. The bad news: this so-called “illusion of validity” is – well – an illusion, and can sometimes require crisis management.

David Streitfeld, who covers technology for The New York Times, recently wrote, “In May, Yelp issued 59 new Consumer Alerts, which are notices it puts on a business’s page that it has been caught trying to pay for better reviews. Among those cited were a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon and an emergency room in Humble, Tex. Lifehacker.com recently took on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, arguing their way of compiling reviews was ‘fundamentally flawed.’ FiveThirtyEight.com reported that ‘men are sabotaging the online reviews of TV shows aimed at women.’ (Why? Because they can.)”

In other words, while most online costumers still put a heap of trust in online reviews, mistrust is beginning to blossom across the land.

The Knight Canney Group’s advice: Make sure the concept of complete and competent customer service is part of your company’s business plan and mission statement, and respond quickly, completely, and politely to less-than-stellar online reviews (and while you’re at it, compliment the positive reviewers).

Oh, and don’t pay for good reviews.

The Future Is Software – This Week, Anyway

This week Microsoft and Apple made it clear that software is the new hardware. For the time being.

Microsoft is buying the business-oriented social network LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in cash, and Apple is pivoting away from its slow-selling laptops, tablets, and smartphones to focus on improving its software.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called the purchase of LinkedIn key to the company’s corporate image building – a way to reinvent productivity and business processes. “How people find jobs, build skills, sell, market, and get work done and ultimately find success requires a connected professional world.”

LinkedIn has more than 433 million members in 200 countries, which means Microsoft will now own one of the largest social networks in the world.

That bold move is almost matched by the decision of the notoriously-proprietary Apple to allow outside developers access to some of its key apps, including Siri and iMessage. The thinking is that an infusion of fresh innovation will make the iPhone seem, well, fresh again.

Corporate image building aside, the moves by Microsoft and Apple are also smart public relations strategies that allow the companies to prove they can expand beyond their hardware offerings and more fully welcome software developers (Apple) and social media (Microsoft).

Both companies suffer from software that is – as the tech folks like say – “buggy,” so there’s some heavy lifting to be done before LinkedIn fully integrates with Microsoft and outside developers fully integrate with Apple’s closed culture. And it remains to be seen whether Apple and Microsoft can leverage these public relations moves to create more value.

Given that 60% of LinkedIn’s $2.9 billion in revenue comes from services sold to HR departments, that only 25% of users use the service each month, and that just a sliver of users pay for LinkedIn’s premium service, where does Microsoft expect to find growth?

The New York Times reported on Monday that “Apple is under pressure to fix its software and online services, which have become increasingly important to consumers. Apple has a lot of catching up to do … [because most of its] noteworthy … features [are] already offered by other internet companies, namely Amazon and Google.”

Microsoft and Apple have plenty of cash to devote to the secret sauces that will make these initiatives pay off. But tech consumers can be fickle – just ask Blackberry, MySpace, and whoever invented QR codes and laser discs – so neither venture is a sure thing.

The Knight Canney Group is betting, however, that Apple CEO Tim Cook, and Microsoft’s Satya Nadella are – to paraphrase Lady Gaga – optimists, spontaneous, and ready to take the rapidly-evolving, software-centric tech world by storm.