ORONO – University of Maine Cooperative Extension recently named Aroostook native Melissa Arndt to serve as its first-ever director of marketing and communications. In this new role, Arndt will provide strategic direction for organizational marketing and communication efforts, and lead the UMaine Extension communications and marketing team. Arndt will also work closely with the University of Maine marketing and communications division, strengthening the connection between Extension and the university.

“We are thrilled that Melissa has joined Extension, as she brings a wealth of experience working with other organizations that also have statewide missions,” said Hannah Carter, dean of UMaine Extension. “We believe she will help us to elevate Extension’s mission and increase our ability to share research-based information and educational programs, and connect with more individuals and communities across the state and beyond.”

The new position comes at a time when the organization is aiming to leverage the effectiveness of its newly expanded digital programming. With offices and staff covering all 16 counties, UMaine Extension has historically had a statewide reach. With the arrival of the pandemic, however, many Extension programs moved temporarily online and became accessible to a much larger audience. 

While most UMaine Extension programs will return to an in-person format going forward, the organization will continue to implement digital programming and bring practical knowledge from the university to even more people in Maine.

“The depth and breadth of Extension’s educational offerings is astonishing,” said Arndt. “Faculty and staff are conducting research and developing programs to teach Mainers how to preserve food, build a food-based business, grow vegetables sustainably, manage pests, care for livestock, make healthy food choices, develop leadership skills, adapt to climate change and so much more. We want to make sure everyone in Maine has an opportunity to learn from this work which, in turn, helps build healthy communities and a strong, sustainable economy.”

Arndt grew up on a potato and beef farm in Aroostook County, where she participated in a variety of Extension 4-H programs. A graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, she has worked in Maine for the last 27 years, most recently providing strategic communications leadership for statewide and regional nonprofit organizations.

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