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An Inland Seas voyage to Marquette

Schooner trip geared toward Great Lakes education

The Inland Seas Education Association soon will head to Marquette and other Upper Peninsula communities, allowing students to study the Great Lakes ecosystem. The visits mark the first time the vessel will enter Lake Superior with the program. (Photo courtesy of the Inland Seas Education Association)

MARQUETTE — After a six-day visit to Detroit, the Inland Seas Education Association is in transit to the Upper Peninsula on the Inland Seas, a 77-foot schooner that offers educational programming about the Great Lakes.

The ship will bring programs to Houghton, Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie between Saturday and Aug. 7.

The ISEA, based in downstate Suttons Bay, said this is the first time the 27-year-old vessel will enter Lake Superior. In 2019, the Inland Seas program traveled to four of the five Great Lakes.

The ship has provided programming in Hessel, a Lake Huron port, every summer since 2014 except during 2020.

ISEA brought the schooner Utopia to Lake Superior for the 2019 Duluth Tall Ship Festival, but this is the first time the Inland Seas program has taken the schooner to Lake Superior, said Fred Sitkins, ISEA executive director.

Utopia is a 65-foot two-masted schooner built in 1946 by Fred Peterson, founder of Peterson Builders of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It was donated to ISEA in 2016 by Carla and the late Ellsworth Peterson.

While in Houghton, multiple Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Tech groups are scheduled to receive programs aboard the schooner Saturday through Tuesday. Students in the MTU Summer Youth program will spend three days traveling on the ship from Houghton to Marquette.

Sitkins called the students “Great Lakes scientists on board.”

“The general thing that happens on our programs is just gaining an understanding of the Great Lakes ecosystem,” Sitkins said.

He noted that the students will explore what lives in the Great Lakes and will take samples of organisms that live at the bottom of the lake, as well as plankton samples to see the microscopic beginning of the Great Lakes food chain. They also will collect fish to study and take basic water quality assessments.

ISEA, according to Sitkins, is a nonprofit organization that receives funding through grants and donations.

Sitkins acknowledged that since the summer is short, it tries to maximize the use of the ship, which means programming often is carried out in in transit.

In August, another youth group will travel from downstate Mackinaw City to Suttons Bay.

In Marquette, MSU Extension and other partners will be aboard the ship. Programs with Lake Superior State University, youth groups and MSU Extension will be conducted in Sault Ste. Marie with the ship heading back to her home port on Aug. 8.

ISEA said it addresses the need to protect the Great Lakes, which has a global as well as regional economic impact, through education. Since 1989, Inland Seas has educated over 130,000 youth and adults about the health of the Great Lakes through its school and public programs.

The Great Lakes contain 20% of Earth’s accessible freshwater supply and roughly 84% of North America’s surface freshwater, Sitkins said.

“We believe it’s everyone’s job to steward this resource through career choices, lifestyle choices, communication choices and more,” he said.

More about Inland Seas Education Association and its school and public programs can be found at schoolship.org.

ISEA is dedicated to STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics education — on the Great Lakes. Its shipboard and shore-side education programs are designed to inspire people of all ages to provide for the long-term stewardship of the Great Lakes. ISEA offers programs to schools, groups and the public.

For more information, contact ISEA at 231-271-3077 or visit www.schoolship.org.

Christie Mastric can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net

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