Top Stories

Children learn about customs and border protection

MADAWASKA, Maine — Young students from the Madawaska Elementary School got a special visit from Customs and Border Protection agents Thursday morning when the children had the opportunity to play officer and learn the basics about crossing the border.

“It’s nice to have people in uniform so that the students can get acclimated to them and not be afraid when [the children] see them out and about,” said Lise Pelletier, principal at Madawaska Elementary School.

The eight students in Mrs. Kerry O’Brien’s early childhood class did all they could to contain their enthusiasm when Jodie Theriault, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and outreach coordinator, introduced the agents and the plan for the class.

“I think it’s important for the kids to learn about where they live,” Theriault said. “Since they live in a border town, and they have to cross through us sometimes at customs, this [will teach them] what it is that we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”

Students in the Madawaska Elementary School early childhood class eagerly listen to officer U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer Jodie Theriault on April 11 as she explains what and who can and cannot cross the border. (Morgan Mitchell | SJVT/FhF)

The students, with the help of some stuffed animal puppies and the other customs officers, went around to stations and tried to determine if the officer pretending to cross the border should be allowed into the country or not.

“[The students] learned about how customs [agents] help keep our country safe and got to role play being a customs officer,” O’Brien said. “Our students all cross the border in and out of Canada frequently. Today they gained knowledge about the process and now understand how the  customs officers and border agents keep us all safe.”

The students learned about why people with a criminal record, sick animals, oranges, and certain bugs burrowed in wood cannot come into the United States. They even got to look at some of the insects under a microscope.

“I’m very grateful to the officers,” O’Brien said. “It is important for children to understand that the primary purpose of the customs officers is to keep them safe. It was such a memorable experience for them.”

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.