Tommy’s Class went on an Education Sailboat – Monday, June 17, 2019

A week ago Friday on June 7th, Tommy’s class went on an excursion on a boat that has an educational program. Tommy’s class put the number of attendees of the program at 125,000. One classmate of Tommy’s was randomly chosen as the 125,000 enrollee.

Steve attended as a parent chaperone and said that it was fun to watch Tommy who was fascinated by the experience.

You can see Tommy bossing everyone around in this photo with his shipmates:

Tommy is 2nd from right.

Below is a newspaper report of the event. The term micro-plastics was a new one for me.

The Record-Eagle | Page C01
Sunday, 16 June 2019



SUTTONS BAY — The sounds of ropes slapping the sails and waves splashing against the hull of the Inland Seas schooner were all that could be heard as a class of fourth-graders fell silent and pretended they were sailing in the 1800s.

The silence was dramatic, as it followed hours of the students excitedly doing science projects aboard the educational sailboat operated by nonprofit Inland Seas Educational Association as it cruised around Suttons Bay on Lake Michigan.

What seemingly was a typical school field trip for the sailing educators aboard the floating classroom instead marked a milestone moment: the organization served its 125,000th student on its June 7 afternoon schooner voyage.

“They are doing a lot of the same things they did years ago, but of course, they’ve added the microplastics which is critical,” said Ann Rogers, retired Traverse City teacher invited aboard the historic sail because she brought the first students to the shipboard program.

ISEA initially launched 30 years ago and promotes hands-on learning through experiences both on land and aboard the organization’s schooners. Its mission is to inspire curiosity, stewardship and passion about the Great Lakes.

“It’s hard to keep something like that going for 30 years, but we have and we’ve continued to grow,” said Fred Sitkins, ISEA executive director. “It continues to resonate with people today as much as it did 30 years ago.”

On board the Inland Seas schooner on June 7, Eastern Elementary fourth-grade teacher Karen Nelson said she wants her students to gain a sense of ownership of the Great Lakes from a young age, and that comes with experiences. She brings her students each year and has brought hundreds over her career, she said.



Isabella Stewart, 10, of Traverse City, pulls on a rope to help raise a sail on the Inland Seas schooner, an education ship operated by the Inland Seas Education Association in Suttons Bay.

Record-Eagle/Sheri McWhirter

“They are doing a lot of the same things they did years ago, but of course, they’ve added the microplastics which is critical.”

Ann Rogers, retired Traverse City teacher


“I want my students to have access to being on the Great Lakes because many of them may not otherwise have that chance,” Nelson said.

The shipboard program also helps the pupils learn about creatures that live in the Great Lakes, water quality, plankton and benthos, the flora and fauna that live in the sediments at the bottom of the lakes. They also trawl for microplastics, an element added in recent years.

The program offers the students a chance to learn how to care for the environment around them, Nelson said.

“I want them to be stewards of the environment and teaching them science is the best. And all this is science,” she said, gesturing around where she stood on the deck of the schooner.

An opportunity to learn more about the organization is coming on June 21, during a grand opening celebration for a $1.5 million renovation at the Capt. Thomas M. Kelly Biological Station, the agency’s home in Suttons Bay. The facility is named for the nonprofit’s founder, who launched the effort in 1989 with the leased tallship Malabar.

ISEA’s shipboard program serves approximately 5,000 students each year, though the organization also offers programs on dry land.


Braxton Couturier, left, Adrian Edson, Jaxin Elhart, Tomás Haas, and Niilo Asiala, all 10-year-old fourthgraders at Eastern Elementary in Traverse City, work together to hoist up the anchor on the Inland Seas.


Hannah Sluis, 10, of Traverse City, checks out a native crayfish captured in an otter trawl dragged behind the Inland Seas schooner in Suttons Bay.

Record-Eagle photos/Sheri McWhirter


Retired teacher Ann Rogers, right, listens as fourthgraders learn about species living in the Great Lakes. Rogers was the first teacher to take students on a field trip aboard the educational schooner.

Copyright (c)2019 The Record-Eagle, Edition 06/16/2019

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