No ticks allowed: Maine kids take on Lyme awareness

Grace VanBuskirk may only be in third grade, but the Owls Head student has a wish many of us share: A world free of ticks.

Impossible? Sure. But Grace knows how to at least keep herself free of ticks. She’s one of three winners of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2014 Lyme Disease Awareness Month poster contest.

In May, Maine CDC held its fifth annual poster contest in conjunction with Maine schools, grades kindergarten through eight. Students created posters with the theme “Tick Tock,” detailing how to promptly recognize and remove disease-spreading ticks. The posters also illustrated one or more of the four primary ways to prevent Lyme disease using Maine CDC’s “No Ticks 4 ME” approach:

1.  Wear protective clothing

2.  Use repellent

3.  Perform daily tick checks

4.  Use caution in tick-infested areas

Grace’s poster features wearing long sleeves and pants and checking pets for ticks.


Katherine Freeman, a fifth grader who also attends Owls Head Central School, drew a fat, smug King Tick that clearly isn’t intimidating well-protected Tilly, or her pigtails.


Kailee Cox, a homeschooled sixth-grader, created a remarkably realistic illustration of a tick.


“The posters submitted this year were well-done and eye-catching,’’ Dr. Sheila Pinette, director of Maine CDC, said in a news release. “This contest showcases the creativity of Maine students and is a unique way to integrate Lyme disease prevention education and art.”

All of the posters were displayed in the Maine CDC offices in Augusta and rated by Maine CDC employees. Each winner received a Maine State Parks Family Day Pass and a certificate of recognition. Tick removal kits were distributed to the winners and their classmates.

I wish Maine kids (and adults for that matter) didn’t have to worry about tick-borne diseases. But at least some students are learning how to limit the risks.

Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.