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Jo Ann Perreault, Featured ScientistFeatured Scientist:
Jo Ann Perreault

My interest in food started at an early age. I was 12 years old and home from school to watch the Apollo Mission to the moon when my grandmother taught me how to make my first apple pie. Later in high school, during a career day presentation by two dietitians from a local hospital, I decided I wanted to become a dietitian.

Despite my interest in nutrition, I struggled with my weight as a teenager and young adult. That battle continued into my early 30’s until I discovered weightlifting. My short (5'3") muscular body started to change dramatically with regular exercise. Daily exercise comprised of both aerobics and resistance has been part of my life for more than 20 years now. It makes weight management easier and results in a high energy level.

My formal training in nutrition started with getting a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Massachusetts. Following completion of an accredited internship at Bay State Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts, with a weekly class affiliation at Yale-New Haven, I took my first job as a clinical dietitian.

In my late 20's, I got a Masters in Business Management and started managing food service departments. I came to Maine to run the food service operation for Penobscot Bay Medical Center in 1981 and discovered the beautiful Maine coast. I left Maine briefly in 1985, but returned in 1989 to the mid-coast area with the intention never to leave again. I didn't. Even though my career changed direction several times - from long term care consulting to nursing home administrator and finally back to dietetics - the common thread was health care and teaching.

In 1993 I was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes. I was into bodybuilding in a serious way at the time and had completed a competition the previous fall. Thanks to my professional training, I was able to make the changes I needed to make, but the disease also gave me tremendous insight into the problems of clients. The path to becoming an educator had started.

In 1997 I joined the clinical staff at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast, Maine. A decision to quit smoking that year resulted in a 20-pound weight gain in just six months. I needed help. I felt the best way to help myself was to help others in the process, so I started my first weight loss program and I have been teaching it ever since.

I received my certification as a diabetes educator in 2001 and now spend about a quarter of my time teaching on that topic. In addition, Waldo County General Hospital started a cardiac rehabilitation program; I developed the course outline and teach classes to that group. I'm also teaching weight loss and healthy nutrition classes to community businesses and hospital employees.

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National Science Foundation Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Maine Forest Products Council Irving Woodlands, LLC Desiree Carlson, M.D. More Connected. More Maine.

Major funding is provided by the National Science Foundation.
Additional funding is provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Maine Forest Products Council, Irving Woodlands LLC., Desiree Carlson, M.D., and gifts to More Connected. More Maine, The Campaign for Maine Public Broadcasting Network's Programming.

A list of other funders includes:
The Davis Family Foundation, Margaret E. Burnham Charitable Trust, and Lincoln Ladd.

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