Students from six coastal and island high schools (Deer Isle-Stonington, George Stevens Academy, Vinalhaven, North Haven, Narraguagus and Mount Desert Island) gathered on Hurricane Island in Penobscot Bay to kick-off the second year of the Eastern Maine Skippers Program and their collaborative, year-long project addressing the question, “How can the impact of the green crab population be controlled in a way that conserves the marine ecosystem and encourages new industry?”
The day and a half program was organized and hosted by the Hurricane Island Foundation with additional staff support from Penobscot East Resource Center and the Maine Department of Marine Resources. The event introduced students to the green crab issue in Maine and was jam packed with hands-on activities from learning about field sampling techniques to developing a marketable product made from green crabs to discussing elements underlying effective group work and communication.
“This event provides the students with an opportunity to connect in-person, fostering a generation of fishermen who know how to collaborate and communicate with each other despite being from different homeports,” said Alice Anderson, Hurricane Island Science Educator, in a news release.
Before beginning field work students worked with Alice Anderson, Noah Oppenheim, a graduate student at the University of Maine, School of Marine Sciences, Carla Guenther, Lead Scientist at Penobscot East Resource Center and Les White from the Maine Department of Marine Resources to identify different sampling techniques that could be used in assessing green crab abundance in the intertidal zone.
After much deliberation and discussion, each group of students generated a scientific question about green crabs and identified an appropriate sampling method to test their question during low tide on Monday morning. After collecting data in the intertidal zone, students reflected on the process and discussed the pros and cons of their approach, analyzed data collected, and presented their findings to the larger group.
On Sunday afternoon, students worked with peers from other schools to create an edible dish from green crabs. This activity provided students the opportunity to explore the potential for developing marketable products made from green crabs. Prior to the taste-testing contest, each group delivered a pitch describing their product, how it was made, who they were marketing it to, and the asking price. A panel of judges, made up of teachers, voted on their favorite dish.
The Hurricane Island Chowder dish won Best Taste, while the Green Crab Mac and Cheese dish won Best Pitch and the Fried Green Crab and Dip was awarded Most Creative Dish.
Throughout the remainder of the school year, the students will continue their investigation of green crabs in their own schools.
The green crab project will provide students the opportunity to learn and practice important skills such as active citizenship, public speaking, interpreting and using data, and applied science and engineering that will prepare them for modern fishing careers as well as post-secondary education. The project has further application beyond their high school education, however, as students are conducting "real-world" research that researchers and regulators can use as they seek to sustain the fisheries component of the coastal economy, which is critical to Downeast communities.
About Eastern Maine Skippers Program and Hurricane Island Foundation
In 2012, Deer Isle Stonington High School and Penobscot East Resource Center collaborated to create the Eastern Maine Skippers Program. EMSP is a regional program which aims to provide aspiring commercial fishermen in schools from North Haven to Eastport the skills needed to be successful fishermen in a time of rapid environmental and regulatory change.
A cohort of more than 40 students from Vinalhaven, North Haven, Deer Isle-Stonington, Ellsworth, MDI, Narraguagus, and Jonesport-Beals High Schools as well as George Stevens Academy remain in their schools and collaborate in the program via technology-based “anytime, anywhere” learning. Students also meet in person 3-4 times per year to participate in events such as the kick-off event hosted by the Hurricane Island Foundation. The Hurricane Island Foundation provides experiential, hands-on learning opportunities for middle and high school students on a 125-acre island in Penobscot Bay.
For more information about the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, visit https://sites.google.com/a/dishs.org/msp/eastern-maine-skipper-s-program. For more information about Penobscot East Resource Center, visit www.penobscot east.org. For more information about the Hurricane Island Foundation, visit hurricaneisland.net.