Sheila Grant has been a professional writer/photographer for over two decades. Her main writing focuses are travel, profiles of interesting people, and highlighting downtown revitalization efforts. That said, Grant has written everything from crime coverage to the wonders of the photovoltaic battery, as well as speeches, press releases, marketing materials, downtown action plans, and local/state/federal grants. Her work has appeared in The Boston Globe, as well as several Maine-based magazines and newspapers. Grant has also been the writer/editor of two international newsletters covering downtown revitalization, and is the author of one book, 50 Great New England Family Fishing Vacations, and the editor/co-author of Design Downtown for Women (Men Will Follow), released in August 2018. Grant's work has been recognized by the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Maine Press Association.
“Compelling copy, meticulously researched, skillfully written, and always, always on time. For almost a decade, Sheila has developed story ideas and sources, reported and written short and long-form pieces, and provided original photography, all with an eye toward meeting the unique and demanding needs of our readers.” ~~ Margaret DeWitt, Publisher, Downtown Development Center
“When I came to work at the BDN, our department had a pile of freelance writers and photographers. That list was soon whittled down to just a few regulars, with Sheila Grant being the go-to freelancer. She's amazing. Not only can she write well, she also understands deadlines perhaps better than anyone. She's never gotten me something at deadline, but always -- ALWAYS -- well before.
And that's going some, because it's safe to say that a good chunk of assignments for her have been last-minute emergency deals that go something like this: "Sheila, it's Monday, I need three pieces by Friday; can you do them?" "I'll get right on it." Wednesday morning, two pieces are in, and she says, "I'll have the other one by tomorrow" -- and then it shows up that afternoon. (No -- this is not AT ALL an exaggeration.)
Sheila is skilled, talented, reliable, and amazingly fast and efficient. Her versatility on subject matter is fantastic -- she can write about anything -- and she's definitely our longest-tenured freelancer, and the one we never have to worry about when we assign material to her. She will be a great benefit to anyone she writes for, regardless of the topic.” -- David Fitzpatrick, former Special Sections Editor, Bangor Daily News
1990 – ongoing
From late 2010 to July, 2018, I was the contract editor/writer of the Downtown Idea Exchange and the Downtown Promotion Reporter. Both monthly newsletters covered economic development news throughout the U.S. and Canada. In fall 2017, the two newsletters were combined into one, with the new, more holistic Downtown Idea Exchange covering a full range of economic development strategies for downtowns of all sizes, as well as marketing and promoting city centers to residents, workers, shoppers and others.
My first book, 50 Great New England Family Fishing Vacations, was released by North Country Press on June 1, 2011. While the book does indeed highlight great places to fish, it is also a “where to” book on great places to stay, eat, shop, hike, golf and more. Any good vacation needs to include something every member of the family will enjoy, so the book also covers interesting natural resource education opportunities, hands-on learning opportunities, museums, amusement parks, zoos and other kid-friendly fun. This guide contains over 61,000 words of text, and more than 100 photographs from my own collection and gathered cooperatively from tourism and fish and game offices in all six New England states.
My work has appeared in The Boston Globe, North Country, Up North, Bangor Metro, New England Game and Fish, Pennsylvania Game and Fish, Ohio Game and Fish, New York Game and Fish and The Tennessee Sportsman. For several years, I wrote monthly columns for New England Game and Fish and the Northwoods Sporting Journal. I was also responsible for annual family travel and fishing destination pieces for all of the game and fish magazines.
For several years, I was also a freelance writer for Bangor Daily News custom publications, covering a wide variety of topics annually. I wrote a weekly feature for The Highlands Journal newspaper until it ceased publication. My weekly features often focused on non-profit agency efforts, volunteers working to better their communities, local artisans, or issues common to most Piscataquis residents. I also taught an adult education class on writing for publication, and a seminar for non-profits on working with the media, for several years.
My skill set also includes grant writing, both as a volunteer (for local fire departments) and as a paid consultant. My husband (who was with the Guilford Volunteer Fire Department for 19 years) and I have successfully obtained over $700,000 in grant funds for firefighting vehicles and equipment in Guilford. We also successfully assisted the Corinna Fire Department in obtaining grant funds. During my work with various agencies over the years I have successfully applied for grants from the Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund, the Community Development Block Grant program, the Maine Community Foundation and several other funding agencies.
I have worked as a consultant for the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office, Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and the Dover-Foxcroft Police Department. Both law enforcement agencies have been successful in obtaining grant funds via applications I assisted with. PCEDC has helped the town of Milo with several downtown revitalization grants, using me as a consultant to draft the Milo Downtown Action Plan. In 2010, I completed a similar plan for the town of Monson, Maine.
I remain an active member of the PCEDC board, and maintain good relationships with representatives from each of our congressional offices, our county commissioners, municipal officials and leaders from business and non-profit sectors. I am also a member of the Maine Press Association, New England Outdoor Writers Association, and the New England Travel Writers Network.
Piscataquis County Economic Development Council Community Development Specialist
March 2006 – November 2007
During this temporary, grant-funded position, I was responsible for building community partnerships and assisting communities and non-profit organizations in developing and funding projects of economic benefit to the region. Economic development focuses more directly on the creation of jobs. Adding the community development position allowed PCEDC to focus on issues like infrastructure and quality of life improvements that would hopefully benefit current residents while also attracting new employers and workers to the region.
I was responsible for contact with all of the municipal governments in Piscataquis County, the Piscataquis County Commission, and several non-profit agencies. I sat on several committees, including the Penquis Resource Exchange, the Cultural Heritage Eco-tourism Committee and the Piscataquis Tourism Task Force. I was also responsible for generating press releases, news reports and brochures promoting PCEDC’s work. I remain an active member of the PCEDC Board to date.
During my time with PCEDC, I started the trailhead project at the Appalachian Trial in Monson, helped Milo obtain a new generator at the town office, assisted Milo in obtaining funding for their new industrial park, assisted Dover-Foxcroft in obtaining funds for a new sidewalk and for a downtown tree inventory and brought travel writers to the region for a familiarization tour that I arranged and implemented.
Piscataquis County Soil & Water Conservation District Executive Director
May, 2001- April 2006
I was responsible for all aspects of running the PCSWCD office and programs, with oversight by a volunteer board of supervisors that meets once per month. I have trained an administrative assistant, who I continued to supervise, to do the filing, typing, payroll, quarterly and annual taxes and to assist with program implementation.
I arranged, found funding for and implemented a wide array of natural resource conservation education programs annually. The largest of these was the two-week summer camp for children, which has grown from a mornings-only camp of 15 to two sessions per day accommodating 60 children. I have also assisted the district in funding and implementing development of a 180-acre Demonstration Forest in Williamsburg Plantation. I have written a number of successful grants each year to implement these programs.
When hired for this 20-hour-per-week position, I was asked to increase visibility of the district with the public, fellow conservation agencies and potential partners. During my time there, the district was mentioned in the media nearly weekly and at least 100 times per year. I also wrote, designed and published an annual report, quarterly newsletters and all event brochures and posters.
I served as Election Superintendent for the statewide District Employee Committee and as lead writer on the Maine Association of Conservation Districts Public Relations Committee. We were a lead district on a statewide Ed Web grant to design a signature educational program that can be offered by all districts to Maine middle school educators. The board chair, Stephen Hobart, served as president of the Maine Association of Conservation Districts, and I as his executive assistant for the duration of his term.
The district received numerous state and national awards during my employ, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Chief’s Field Award for the Northeast Region of the country; third in the nation for Supervisor of the Year for Stephen Hobart; Maine Association of Conservation Districts Education District of the Year; and first place in the 2006 National Association of Conservation Districts Photo Contest in the education category. In 2005, they were one of five districts in the country selected to present our “Piscataquis success story” at the national meeting of conservation districts in Atlanta, GA.
District partnerships grew beyond counting and included town and county government and agencies, local businesses, other non-profits, schools and many individuals. Summer camp alone involved Save a Lot and Horizon Organics who fed summer camp kids, while Wal-Mart provided craft supplies and funders included the Milo Garden Club, the Piscataquis Public Health Council, United Way’s Keeping Kids on Track program and the Maine Community Foundation’s Piscataquis County Fund. Six farms donated time for the camp while five agencies donate professional guest speakers: Maine Forest Service, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Penobscot Indian Nation, University of Maine and NRCS.
The Piscataquis Observer -- Staff Writer, Reporter, Photographer
1996 – 2001
My duties included coverage of all aspects of life in the towns of Greenville, Shirley, Monson, Abbot, Guilford, Sangerville, Dover-Foxcroft, Parkman, Cambridge, Wellington, Dexter, Ripley, Exeter, Garland, Corinna and Newport. I worked as correspondent, part-time and full-time staff. While full-time, my duties also included coverage of Piscataquis County Commissioners and district and superior court. I was lead paginator, responsible for laying out the pages of the paper each week. I also supervised our Greenville correspondent, coordinating her coverage, editing her work and preparing her photographs for publication. I developed story ideas, followed leads, researched subjects, interviewed, and did my own photography. I averaged 12 stories each week while full-time. As a part-time employee, I was responsible for one front page story, the Dexter/Newport page, and business, recreation and general interest stories as they occurred in my coverage area. In 2000, my work was recognized by the Maine Press Association. While with the Observer, I covered many of the meetings that were the forerunners of today’s economic development movement in the region. I also did vast numbers of new business stories and learned a great deal about our business community.
Literacy Volunteers of America, Dover-Foxcroft Affiliate
1990 – 1994
I began as a tutor in November of 1990. I became Volunteer Coordinator in April of 1991 and was responsible for maintaining seven student/tutor matches, tracking volunteer hours, recruiting new volunteers, organizing training sessions for new volunteers and matching students with tutors. I planned and attended monthly board meetings, and acted as liaison between the local and state organization. I was also responsible for annual reports necessary to maintaining our 501(C3) status.
As director of the affiliate, I wrote a $28,000 CDBG to open an outreach office in Dover-Foxcroft. My responsibilities expanded to include fundraising, planning public relations events, writing speeches, grants and public relations materials, supervising office volunteers, establishing a student library at the office, and all facets of office operations. Our services expanded to include Newport, and we had more than 40 tutor/student matches. We were recognized as Maine Affiliate of the Year in 1994. During my time with the affiliate, the Points of Light Foundations recognized us as one of the 1000 Points of Light. We were then selected to represent all of Maine’s Points of Lights, so affiliate co-founder Betty Ellis and I traveled to Washington, DC to attend a White House reception hosted by President and Mrs. Bush.
KeyBank, Guilford Branch
1985 - 1990
My responsibilities included walk-in, drive-up and telephone customer service, retail sale of bank services, writing public relations materials, inventory and control of U.S. Savings Bonds, and traveling with a “portable” bank once each week to service customers from the basement of the Monson Town Office. While employed by KeyBank, I completed several courses with an “A” average, including “Principles of Banking,” “Law & Banking Applications,” “Older Bank Customers” and “Selling Bank Services.” My years at the bank were my introduction to the business community in Piscataquis County, and I maintained many of those contacts as I found new ways to partner with them at each of my jobs over the years.