THOR Institute Vacationland Conference

The Tourism, Hospitality, and Outdoor Recreation (THOR) Institute of the University of Maine System, a partnership among all of the System’s public universities to create new education and training pathways that bolster some of Maine’s largest industries, hosted its first Vacationland conference in Portland July 31-August 1.  The University of Southern Maine’s Tourism & Hospitality program is a key player in the THOR Institute.

The conference drew 109 attendees, with 55 high school counselors/educators from around the state, 24 faculty, staff and students from the University of Maine System, 27 workforce/industry and community partners from around the state and 3 faculty partners from Greenland.  Our high school participants indicated they collectively reach more than 11,000 high school students in the state of Maine. 

The conference’s goal was to increase the number of graduating Maine high school students who pursue study in Maine’s public universities as a pathway to a rewarding career in the THOR industries – industries that employ 1 in 5 in our state.

Thirty $1,000 scholarships for graduating high school seniors who plan to enter into a University of Maine THOR program in Fall 2024 were provided to participating high schools.

The conference was made possible by a grant from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan – the proposal put forth by Governor Mills and supported by the Maine Legislature to invest the state’s share of federal American Rescue Plan relief funds, including in University of Maine System workforce development.

A few testimonial statements from attendees:

This has been a very informative and positive conference. The breakout rooms allowed for helpful conversations with industry experts, students, and faculty. The days were well designed with activity and information! The knowledge gained will be very helpful to me relating opportunities to students, both in the THOR industry and the educational possibilities at the University of Maine System. –Daniel Hylan, Director of Guidance/School Counselor, RSU #54 Skowhegan Area High School

Thanks for a well planned/great 2 days – learned a bunch! Everyone was very approachable. My eyes have been opened to new opportunities for students, so many pathways!  You all work well together on all campuses. —Elizabeth Baldwin, RSU 1 Bath Tech

This conference is SO needed. I have not used THOR concepts with my students and I WILL now. Please do this for other counselors. —Leslie Smith Director of Guidance, Hermon Academy

More About THOR: The Tourism, Hospitality, and Outdoor Recreation (THOR) Institute is a partnership among all of the campuses in the University of Maine System to create new education and training pathways to bolster Maine’s largest industries. Participating campuses are the University of Maine at Augusta, the University of Maine at Farmington, the University of Maine at Fort Kent, the University of Maine (Orono), the University of Maine at Machias, the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and the University of Southern Maine.

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