Plans for a community sea and science program began in 2011. In 2012 events were held to discuss concepts, solicit community input, and raise funds and public awareness. The community felt strongly that the region needed year-round activities focusing on seamanship skills and marine sciences. Sprung from strong values of inclusiveness, experiential learning, personal growth and environmental stewardship, in 2013, the Boothbay Sea and Science Center launched innovative and experiential sea and science learning activities unique in the State. Awarded 501(c)(3) status in 2014, BSSC is led by a 9-member Board and an 18-member Advisory Council that includes Dr. Deborah Bronk, President and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and Ms. Mary Ellen Barnes, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission. Administration and management of BSSC is provided by a diverse volunteer Board aided by an experienced certified public accountant and a well respected and established webmaster based in Portland, Maine. Our reputation for providing a safe quality program promotes volunteerism. BSSC appreciated an increase in volunteers from 4 in 2014 to 50+ in 2020.
BSSC offers innovative, experiential, and affordable education programs to youth ages 5 -17. BSSC’s programs are focused on opening doors of opportunity for students, instructors, and teachers with hands-on learning, instilling lifelong skills and creating career pathways in STEM fields. Collaborating with marine businesses, schools, social service agencies, marine research agencies, and volunteer, from the beginning, Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has been a principal partner with scientists actively engaged in program development and as members of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board.
BSSC opened its doors in 2013 offering a rowing and sailing program for youth ages 5 – 17. Since that time, BSSC has integrated marine science into its summer program, brought the Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming school year program into Maine schools, and hosts an after-school Science Club for middle-schoolers.
Our Principal Accomplishments include but are not limited to:
- Creating programming for summer and in-school STEM programs (integrating navigation, meteorology, boat design, marine sciences);
- Creating major partnership with Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, a premier global marine research center in East Boothbay that provides curriculum guidance and resources;
- Growing enrollment from 24 (2013) to 97 (2019);
- Engaging 10 elementary schools in our school-year aquaculture program, (3 schools in 2017) – Edgecomb Eddy, Southport Central, Boothbay Region Elementary, Wiscasset Middle High, Whitefield Elementary, Georgetown Central, South Bristol, Medomak Middle, Lisbon Middle, South Freeport Middle;
- Creating an after-school science club to engage students in hands-on learning activities;
- Developing partnerships with Rozalia Project, National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, and Blue Ocean Society, national and nonprofit organizations promoting a clean ocean;
- Creating a financial assistance program supporting about 25% of participants, keeping activities affordable to students with limited means and encouraging enrollment of Boothbay area youth;
- Expanding classroom activities by accepting donated boats in good condition saving dollars and providing a mix of boats appropriate for different age groups;
- Developing online student registration and Sponsor A Child donation capabilities;
- Maintaining low overhead and affordable fees, with donated time by volunteer board members and others in administration and management;
- Gaining reputation for recruiting qualified staff – 1 in 2013, 17 in 2019, 12 in 2020 (with the help of the Paycheck Protection Program).