Zippel project featured at Illinois museum

17 years ago

    PRESQUE ISLE, Maine – Presque Isle’s Mary Graham has found herself in a number of museums over the years, but until now, she’s never been featured in one.
Graham, a fourth-grade teacher at Zippel Elementary School, and her Adopt-a-Boat partnership with Bruce Morton, captain of the Seandrea II, is part of a spring exhibit at the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
    “I was contacted last fall by Kim Sheahan, assistant director of education at the Spurlock Museum, and she asked me if I would be willing to let them use my project on the Adopt-a-Boat program as part of their exhibit,” said Graham.
Begun in 2001, Adopt-a-Boat connects K-12 students with commercial fishermen throughout New England. Through these partnerships, the students learn about the complexities of using marine resources and the daily life of fishermen. Many of the partnerships involve communication between student and fishermen partners through e-mail and phone calls, as well as classroom presentations by the fishermen and/or student visits to their boats.
In correspondence with Graham, Sheahan said she found information about the Adopt-a-Boat program online and was “fascinated to read about your partnership with Bruce Morton and the Seandrea II.”
“Currently I am working as the coordinator for our new spring temporary exhibit, ‘Why Knot?,’ which discusses how people manipulate fibers all over the world,” said Sheahan. “In one of the exhibit sections, we are covering fishing and sailing, including the use of fishing nets.
“It would be wonderful to pass along information about this program,” she said, “and show how your students were able to learn about commercial fishing in such an interdisciplinary way.”
With that, Graham e-mailed answers to Sheahan’s questions, and sent a few digital photos to her, as well.
“Ironically my class had just come back May 25 from our annual visit to the coast to see Captain Bruce when I saw the e-mail saying that we were, in deed, being featured in the exhibit,” said Graham. “I was honored to think that a program in another part of the country was interested in something that I was doing with fourth-graders here in Presque Isle … and that it was worthy enough for them to put in their display. I’m honored.”
The large display panel features a photo of Morton and some of last year’s fourth-graders, as well as an introduction and a narrative by Graham, who praises the fisherman for his willingness to work with the students.
“Bruce is so patient with the students and all of their questions,” she said. “Even though he has not entered our classroom physically, he is an important member of our class. The students go on his boat in the spring and experience what he has told them throughout the year.
“He shows them in one day what I could not teach them in one year,” said Graham. “The students walk out with a better understanding of why lobster sells for $10 a pound. Suddenly, using resources wisely and the concept of profit and loss have a whole new meaning when it affects ‘our’ captain.”
Graham said she hopes to travel to Urbana, Ill. to see the display.
“The chances are slim,” she said, “but since we’re on summer vacation, you never know. It might make a fun trip.”
The “Why Knot?” exhibit opened March 27, and will continue through Aug. 26