Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Connecting 20,000 Kids to Boston Harbor in 2019

By Kristen Barry

Kristen Barry is Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Youth Program Director, starting as an intern in 2015. Kristen is a graduate of Bates College, with a major in Biology and a minor in Math. In her free time, Kristen likes to swim in the harbor, hike, and coach college swimming. 

As the weather gets colder and summer becomes a distant memory, I’d like to take some time to reflect on Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s youth programs that ran for nine weeks in July and August that served more than 20,000 youth. As the Youth Program Director, I am lucky enough to plan and experience the daily environmental education that makes Save the Harbor such a fun place to work.

Since 2015 I have been involved in the youth programs, first as an intern analyzing water quality data and programming at Carson Beach, then as a Senior Harbor Educator leading a team of youth staffers as part of the Knowledge is Power science program out at Camp Harbor View. Transitioning into my full-time role, I got the chance to do outreach to new and old community groups to not only learn more about the existing programs at each of our partner sites but also share the opportunity of our free harbor island cruises with new organizations in the Boston area.

My past experience programming on our All Access Boston Harbor trips made it extremely easy to share my excitement in the program with partners. Thanks to Bay State Cruise Company, we were able to take 22 All Access Trips out to George’s and Spectacle Island three days a week from July 2nd through August 28th. 8,205 youth from 113 organizations joined us for at least one of these trips on which our youth staff provided free environmental education in the form of an orientation including the history of the Boston Harbor Cleanup, fishing, touch tanks, intertidal treasure hunts and much more. The program provided free access to the National Park for these groups that may normally be deterred by the ferry fees.

Since 2002 Save the Harbor has been running Youth Environmental Education Programs at partner sites around the Boston Harbor, and this year was no different with our teams led by Senior Harbor Explorers, Lead Harbor Explorers, and Junior Program Assistants. Each staffer brought their own unique background knowledge to the job, and worked well not only with each other but with the staff at each site as well. They tailored their work to each specific site, for example running invasive species experiments on Long Island and teaching fisheries population dynamics lessons at Piers Park Sailing Center. They adapted to the need of the program partner ranging from East Boston to Quincy and enhanced programming to include environmental education as it related to the harbor around them. This year we were able to work with more than 12,200 youth through our wide reach at 14 sites around the Boston Harbor. The hands-on nature kept the youth engaged and allowed them to increase their understanding and interest in marine species and aquatic environments, leading them to an interest in taking care of the water around them.

We were again able to hold three Youth Beach Bash and Splashes on high tide Fridays at DCR’s Carson Beach in South Boston this year. Each time, more than 500 youth attended from community groups throughout Boston to beat the heat and take the plunge into the water at the cleanest urban beach in the country. Ready to greet the attendees were more than 600 hot dogs along with our youth staff equipped with fishing rods, sports equipment. With special appearances of kayaks from Piers Park and dragon boats with Ohana New England, these groups were allowed to experience the fun of the bash on the water.

This year we piloted an on the water expansion of our Boston Harbor Explorers program. A few times a week, we brought youth groups out fishing with Boston Fun Cruises on our Catch of the Day Fishing Trips. These trips allowed the youth to spend time out on the harbor, a change from our usual waterside programming, and familiarized them with the sustainable fisheries in Boston. We would often prepare sashimi and ceviche with the fish that they caught, showcasing a “bait to plate” model. More than 350 youth from community organizations were able to join us this summer, and we are thrilled to be continuing these trips with hopes of increasing the frequency and number of participants aboard.  

Overall, our youth programs thrived this year with more groups joining us out on All Access trips, more youth than ever before engaged through our Boston Harbor Explorers sites, including the opportunity to go out onto the water and reel in some fish. I am honored to be a part of this team, and I am so excited to take what I have learned in 2019 to improve the youth programs going forward.

Save the Harbor's free Share the Harbor Cruises are made possible with Leadership Grants from the Cronin Group, LLC, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Bay State Cruise Company, and Massachusetts Bay Lines

Save the Harbor is also grateful for Leadership Grants from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, The Boston Foundation, The Coca-Cola Foundation, Exelon Generation, and John Hancock Financial Services.

Save the Harbor is grateful for Partnership Grants from the Boston Bruins Foundation, Boston Properties – Atlantic Wharf, Boston Properties—200 Clarendon, The Daily Catch Seaport, Davis Family Charitable Foundation, Eastern Salt Company, Inc., Engie, Fan Pier - The Fallon Company, Highland Street Foundation, Hood Business Park, The HYM Investment Group, LLC, IR+M Charitable Fund, The Llewellyn Foundation, Massachusetts Port Authority, National Grid Foundation, P & G Gillette, Lawrence J. and Anne Rubenstein Charitable Foundation, William E. Schrafft & Bertha E. Schrafft Charitable Trust, Clinton H. & Wilma T. Shattuck Charitable Trust, and Vertex.

Save the Harbor also appreciates Stewardship Grants from Anonymous, Camp Harbor View Foundation, Circle Furniture , Comcast, Copeland Family Foundation, The Cricket Foundation, Cruise Industry Charitable Foundation, Davis Family Charitable Foundation, East Boston Savings Bank Charitable Foundation, Elizabeth Elser Doolittle Charitable Trust, Dorr Charitable Foundation, Enbridge, Tom & Lucinda Foley, Foundation for Sustainability and Innovation, The Kershaw Foundation – Cheers for Children, George Lewis - Haven Trust, Liberty Bay Credit Union, Lovett Woodsum Foundation, Maine Community Foundation, MarineMax Russo, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Nicholson Foundation, Pabis Foundation, REI, RMR Real Estate Services, Rockland Trust Pavilion, Skanska, Abbot & Dorothy H. Stevens Foundation, TD Charitable Foundation, and Tishman Speyer.

Save the Harbor would also like to thank our Program Funders Andus Baker & Rowan Murphy Family Fund, MA Attorney General’s Office Healthy Summer and Youths Jobs Program, The Paul and Edith Babson Foundation, Beacon Capital Partners, LLC, Boston Fisheries Foundation, Andrew Calamare & Marianne Connolly, Cell Signaling Technology, Diversified Automotive, Legal Sea Foods, Miss Wallace M. Leonard Foundation, Mass Bay Credit Union, Matthew J. & Gilda F. Strazzula Foundation, UDR, and Kyle & Sara Warwick.

Save the Harbor would also like to extend our gratitude to our Supporters 3A Marine Service, The Bay State Federal Savings Charitable Foundation, Cresset Group, Massachusetts Marine Educational Trust, Polkadog Bakery, Randy Peeler & Kate Kellogg.

Special thanks as well to the hundreds of individual donors for their generosity and to our partners at the Department of Conservation and Recreation, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, the Boston Centers for Youth and Families and the YMCA of Greater Boston for their support.

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