Healthy Acadia is thrilled and humbled to support an incredibly inspiring group of teens from Washington County who are raising funds in order to attend the Youth Leadership track of Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America’s 32nd annual National Leadership Forum. The forum will be held Jan. 31 to Feb. 3, 2022 at National Harbor, Maryland, located just outside of Washington DC. The youth have nearly reached their fundraising goal and are reaching out to their community for support.

Seven teens who served as student staff at Healthy Acadia’s 2021 DownEast Teen Leadership Camp and who continue to collaborate with the local nonprofit community health organization in efforts to engage youth, applied for and were chosen to present at the upcoming Forum. The group will highlight their activities and accomplishments of this summer through their work with DETLC and Maine Youth Action Network’s Gateway to Opportunity program. 

“It’s so exciting that they were chosen to present on a national stage and have this opportunity to participate in the conference,” said Sara McConnell, Healthy Acadia’s Downeast Partnerships for Success project coordinator. Participating students include Landen Farrell, Edge Venuti, Ellie Claverie, and Roy Duffy from Washington Academy; MacKenzie Schors from Machias Memorial High School; Joey McGlaughlin from Calais High School; and homeschooler Ari Spencer. McConnell and Corrie Hunkler, Healthy Acadia’s youth engagement coordinator, will accompany the students to the conference.

“Attending and participating in the national youth conference will support these teens in their efforts to be agents for positive change in their communities by learning about the latest advances and best practices in prevention, health equity, science, capacity building, policy, advocacy and sustainability,” said Hunkler and McConnell, who meet regularly with the youth to support and promote positive youth activities that encourage healthy choices.

Grant funding and scholarship support is available to cover staff trip expenses; however, Healthy Acadia had not budgeted for a group of seven youth to attend the conference. Trip expenses are approximately $1,500 per teen, so they need community support to make this dream become a reality. The group, with support from Healthy Acadia, has been fundraising for the last few weeks and is just $500 shy of reaching their goal and ensuring that all seven can attend the leadership forum.

In a Nov. 19, 2021, blog post found on Healthy Acadia’s website, the teens shared why they want to participate in the Forum. “I’m 16 years old from Lubec, Maine and I’m a junior at Washington Academy,” said Farrell. “I want to go to the CADCA National Leadership Forum because there are not many opportunities like this for people in my area, and now that this is being presented to me I would do anything to go. Not only would this expand my horizons, it would strengthen my leadership skills … 

Leadership skills that started at DETLC, a camp I’ve been going to for a long time and one that I’m proud to be involved with. Going to this conference would mean the world to me and the other Washington County students, so it would be greatly appreciated if you donated!” 

“I have always had a deep love for nature, animals, and anything outdoors so the climate crisis has always been a big deal to me,” said Claverie, who is also a junior at Washington Academy. “At the CADCA conference, I am hoping to be able to broaden my horizons and gain new ideas on how I can make a difference in my own community.”

“I’m passionate about human rights activism and climate justice,” said McGlaughlin, a junior at Calais High School. “These things mean a lot to me because I want to help build a better future for everyone. I love helping my community and I think attending this forum would help me be a better and more effective leader.”

Funds raised in excess of the group’s goals will be used to provide other youth leadership opportunities, including scholarships to DownEast Teen Leadership Camp as part of Healthy Acadia’s Youth Leadership Fund.

Community members can donate at: 

For more ways to give, contact Shoshona Smith at 207-667-7171 Ext. 210 or 

For information about Healthy Acadia’s youth engagement activities and programming, contact Hunkler at For information about Partnerships for Success and the Downeast Partnerships for Success project, contact McConnell at 

Maine Youth Action Network’s (MYAN) Gateway to Opportunity Program (G2O) connects low-income young people (both in-school and out-of-school) with paid, work-based learning projects during the summer. These projects help youth develop the 21st century skills required for success in their future careers. MYAN coordinates several host sites in the Portland area each summer and this year expanded G2O statewide.

Healthy Acadia is a 501(C)(3) community health organization building vibrant communities and making it easier for all people to lead healthy lives throughout Washington and Hancock counties. This year, Healthy Acadia invites you to join them in celebrating 20 years of empowering people and organizations to build healthy communities together. For more information about Healthy Acadia’s community health initiatives, visit