Boothbay Sea and Science Center awarded $81,334 to expand existing programs

Greenville Consolidated School students at Maine Sea Farms at Clark Cove on the Damariscotta River prepare to harvest their seaweed on May 10, 2022. These are a few of the students that will be going to Whitehead Island next month. Photo by Bob Crink

As part of Experiential Maine! – Summer Coastal Ecology – a statewide initiative to increase student access to hands-on, outdoor learning experience – the State of Maine, Department of Education (DOE) awarded the Boothbay Sea and Science Center $81,334.00 to expand existing programs – providing opportunities for students to engage in authentic, interdisciplinary marine/coastal ecology experiences with a focus on innovative design processes, leadership, and career development.

In accordance with the Maine DOE requests, BSSC will use the funds to increase involvement from students from low-income families that don’t typically have access to marine/coastal ecology experiences due to financial barriers and/or geographic barriers. According to the Maine DOE, the Department is pursuing a whole student framework, to broaden nature-based, experiential opportunities and mitigating the impact of learning loss due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Boothbay Sea and Science Center Experiential Marine Science/Environmental Education Whitehead Island School Program is planned for students in grade 7 at Greenville Consolidated School – a school that participates in our in-school seaweed farming program. Greenville Consolidated School is located in Piscataquis County. According to the DOL the 2021 Average Annual Wage in Piscataquis County was $46,878.00 with the Medium Wage of $37,266.00. On July 1, 2021 the US Census Bureau reported the percent of persons living in poverty in Piscataquis County was 14.6%. It is reported that this county has the second lowest weekly income in the State of Maine – Franklin County being the lowest.

Overcoming a geographic barrier, we are energized to expand our summer program to Whitehead Island and into Maine schools. Whitehead Island is an island in St. George, Knox County, Maine. The island is approximately 70 acres in area, lies at the mouth of Penobscot Bay. and is known for “bleached, rugged granite shores”.

To date, BSSC offers only daytime programs. Due to our location and the lack of public transportation onto the Boothbay peninsula from beyond the region, diversity among our participants is limited. To expand our reach, we need a facility that will provide lodging for participants traveling from away. Whitehead Island fills the need to bring students from low-income families and those with less frequent access to the coast based on geographic location to the Maine coast. BSSC on Whitehead Island with the 7th grade students at Greenville Consolidated School will remove the geographic barrier and give teachers and students from away access to our programming.

At BSSC we are committed to giving students access to experiential marine science learning opportunities fostering a shared vision and a deepening knowledge and understanding of the environment that we believe invites lifelong participation that potentially increases the diversity in the maritime trades, in the fields of marine science, and environmental education, advocacy, and ocean stewardship.

At the Boothbay Sea and Science Center (BSSC) we are continually seeking ways to apply our resources to bridge Maine’s “marine gap,” which deprives youth access to the ocean, marine/maritime connections, and insight into environmental and workforce topics and concerns. Our unique hands-on learning experiences in natural settings give youth the confidence and skills to explore on their own the vastness of the marine ecosystem and the human impact on the system inspiring them to care and become responsible stewards of all our precious natural resources.

Prioritizing equity and inclusion, we strive to educate and inspire the next generation of ocean and environmental stewards, provide resources increasing ocean literacy and guide youth to take action on behalf of preservation and climate resilience. We seek to guide youth on their journey of discovery.

The Boothbay Sea and Science Center, seeking to continue to expand its year-round program, has secured a Purchase Agreement for 1.33 acres of shoreside property located at 12 Carter Road on Linekin Bay in East Boothbay. For more information and how you can help BSSC purchase the property, please email Pauline Dion at infor@boothbayseaandsciencecenter.org or call 207-751-2999.