Edgecomb couple bring new marine environmental program to Boothbay

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 8:45am

For Jack and Beth McKenna it looks like retirement is going to be busy. The recently retired marine geologist and still working educator have set up a nonprofit introducing kids to the marine environment and inspiring them to consider going into the marine field.

Jack explained, “I wanted to put my experience and equipment to good use.”

And, Beth continued, “We’ve been talking for years about combining our skills – Jack’s marine knowledge and my experience in education – to create a new business.”

Hydroterra Ocean Education Center (HOEC) will be educating middle and high school students in the marine environment and how it is changing, said the McKennas.

“The shallow waters in rivers and estuaries and the habitats they house provide the majority of the food that the world’s population consumes,” reads HOEC’s most recent newsletter. “Protecting these areas is ... the job of all countries and many different stakeholders…”

To introduce students to the work of these stakeholders, HOEC will run day-long school programs in May and June, September and October out of Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens aboard the River Song and on land.

“We have all kinds of cool equipment like an underwater ROV (remotely operated vehicle). Kids will be able to get hands-on experience with the equipment and learn about the environmental changes, either manmade or long-term geological changes, while also getting an idea of what’s involved and the variety within the field of marine stewardship,” said Jack.

“Students will be able to explore and collect data from the sea bed and inter-tidal zones on the day of their trip, but also we’ll be able to send back ongoing data to the schools so they can track, study, and analyze the changes going forward,” he continued. 

Beth explained: “Right now, the focus is on getting out on the water and having the kids be able to collect data, see the underwater environment, operate the ROV. In the future, we’re hoping to partner with local marine businesses so that kids can learn firsthand about the work they do.”

Through summer, HOEC will be offering two-day teacher workshops and summer camps for middle and high school-age kids, and one-day environmental tours for the public through CMBG.

Some openings for May and June are still available. Go to www.hydroterraoceaneducationcenter.com