Darling Marine Center Outreach Coordinator Sam Annable helping LA IDEAL students take measurements off the DMC dock. LA and the DMC have begun a yearlong weekly service learning collaboration.

Lincoln Academy’s IDEAL (Innovatively Designed Education for All Learners) Program students are undertaking a biweekly service learning project at the University of Maine’s Darling Marine Center (DMC) in South Bristol. They are working with Sam Annable, Outreach Coordinator at DMC, to plan and implement service learning projects throughout the year.

Among other projects, the students plan to anchor kelp lines in the harbor next to Darling. “Last year we had kelp lines in Casco Bay,” said Janna Civittolo, Director of IDEAL, “and it was too far away for the students to stay active in the kelp farm. It will be great to have them so close this year, especially since kelp aquaculture is such a growing field right now.”

IDEAL students began by touring Darling, to start planning service learning projects that will support DMC facilities and scientists, including oyster and green crab surveys, research in razor clam populations, trail work, setting up touch tanks, and educational displays. “These initiatives will be student driven,” said Civittolo, “and combine science education with service learning.”

The DMC is a center for marine research, education, and community engagement and outreach. In addition to supporting university research and education, the DMC also actively engages with fishermen, aquaculture entrepreneurs, and other marine industry professionals and community members through collaborative research, workforce development, and business incubation programs. Through this collaboration LA students can observe this work first hand.

While IDEAL students have worked with the Darling Marine Center before, going regularly and being familiar with the facility and the people who work there presents a different level of access, said Civittolo.

“This is an incredible opportunity, because even just being there we observe science in action,” said Civittolo. “One example was during our tour we got to meet a PhD student who is working on lobster research, and going out on boats and seeing how a planned wind project will impact the fishery. For our students who work as lobstermen, this was an amazing conversation. It helped them bridge a gap and see how research might be able to help fishermen.”

“It has been a pleasure working with the students thus far, and I look forward to getting them involved in supporting projects at the DMC,” said Annable. “Both LA and the DMC value building community connections and encouraging young people to think critically and explore the world around them. Over time we hope they will also improve their understanding of environmental stewardship, ecology, culture, history, and economic opportunity for the region.”