The Downeast Fisheries Partnership (DFP) hosted a workshop last month to facilitate efforts to expand fisheries education in eastern Maine. The workshop brought together 30 people representing 18 different organizations and provided a platform for participants to brainstorm how to build fisheries-related topics into existing educational programs in both school-based and extracurricular settings.
The overall goal of the workshop is to provide opportunities for children and adults to learn about fisheries at every stage of the educational continuum—from kindergarten to community-based adult education programming. In the long term, such opportunities have the potential to prepare kids to be stewards of their local ecosystems and fisheries, whether they become fishermen or not.
The event was held at Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, Maine. Educators, members of the public, and other professionals interested in fisheries education discussed how to connect existing programs and individuals to expand fisheries knowledge, in and out of schools. Several fisheries educational programs, including the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, Island Readers and Writers, Cobscook Community Learning Center, and Schoodic Institute, gave brief presentations providing a big picture view of students’ exposure to fisheries.
In the discussion that followed, participants noted that challenges to expanding fisheries education were also sometimes opportunities. For example, school systems in eastern Maine do not generally have funding for new programs. But for that same reason, they are often willing to work with collaborators to expand their educational offerings.
Knowledge and experience-sharing was strong throughout the workshop and fostered new connections while strengthening existing ones. Such relationships could help expand and improve fisheries-related educational programming in eastern Maine.