Dear Friend of Hurricane Island,
Just about five years ago - in the summer of 2010 - I sat with Peter Willauer aboard his J42, Eight Bells, in the Fox Islands Thorofare to design a new program for Hurricane Island. The Outward Bound school had left Hurricane in 2007, and POW wanted to give the island a new life.
We came up with the "Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership" to give kids the chance to learn science in meaningful, hands-on ways, shoulder to shoulder with working scientists, in an extraordinary natural environment. As a public school teacher and principal, I was well-aware of the challenges of providing engaging science instruction within the strictures and confines of the school day. To give students and teachers the opportunity to focus, learn and teach in a place like Hurricane seemed an ideal mission for the island. To address the critical national need for greater science literacy and more students pursuing science fields in college and as careers gave real purpose to our plan. And incorporating sustainable technologies, both out of necessity and for teaching purposes, enhanced the relevance of the off-grid setting of Hurricane Island.
We have run student programs on the island for three years now and are gaining traction - teachers, parents and kids are responding because they have a need for what we're offering. In 2015, we expect to serve more than 700 participants in island programs, with more than 2000 student-program days. They'll include:
- Eastern Maine Skippers, a partnership of seven coastal Maine high schools
- Epiphany School (Dorchester) and Cambridge School of Weston, Massachusetts
- Proctor Academy, New Hampshire
- Waynflete School, Gould Academy, Ashwood Waldorf School, Casco Bay High School for Expeditionary Learning, all in Maine
- Northeast High School in Philadelphia Bowdoin, Colby, and the Universities of Maine and Vermont
- ...and an array of our local private and public schools in midcoast Maine
All will be on Hurricane this summer to do engaging, meaningful, hands-on, in-the-field science and to become literate and proficient environmental leaders.
The most important evidence of our success comes from students themselves:
"Being on Hurricane Island and having the opportunity to enjoy nature was the most peaceful time I have ever known in my life... [It] was the first island I had ever been on and the most beautiful place I have ever been. It is almost mysterious; magic happens when you go through the program...From the moment I got on the boat to leave the island, with peace inside me, I knew I needed to come back. At Hurricane, we learned so much about ourselves and about other people. It was like stepping into a tidal pool, a different realm, where you discover so many small things with so much life in a quiet little space."
"The surprising thing is that once I got [to Hurricane], instead of feeling deprived I felt as though I had escaped...Being on Hurricane and free of distractions, I felt more alive; it opened me up to my surroundings...Hurricane Island itself is such a beautiful place, and although it's just an island, it has the ability to change the lives of those who are open to it. Once you look past the stunning beauty of the physical landscape, it has so much more to offer than just a nice view."
"The experience stays with me because I jumped into something completely unfamiliar. I learned on the fly, and managed to exercise then and there what I had learned. It gave me an awesome feeling to know that I was capable of finding my way without relying on modern technology. I felt so empowered and independent; I felt total elation."
This is what we're doing at the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership. We are being the change we want to see in the world. As a primary objective, we are helping middle and high school teachers motivate, prepare, and excite a new generation of science learners and leaders by providing them with an unequalled place to learn and the opportunity to do real, hands-on scientific investigation and observation, with high quality programs, great leadership training, and direct support from career scientists.
That plan we came up with on Eight Bells five years ago is being realized in a remarkably short time. We greatly appreciate the support we've been given since then, and continue to need your interest and contributions. We intend to be the best experiential education and leadership program anywhere, on the most extraordinary island anywhere. I hope you will come out to Hurricane this summer to see for yourself what is being accomplished there.