NESS Announces AmeriCorps Grant Award and Expanded Programs in New London

New England Science Sailing Logo

July 2, 2014
For Immediate Release
Cindy Nickerson, Executive Director
New England Science & Sailing Foundation

NESS Announces AmeriCorps Grant Award and Expanded Programs in New London

New London, CT – New England Science & Sailing Foundation (NESS), US Sailing’s Outstanding Community Sailing Center in America for 2013, today announced expanded programs in New London to advance adventure STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and experiential learning opportunities for the city’s students. This multi-faceted initiative, which exemplifies NESS’s continuing commitment to serve New London, includes the following:

  • A strengthened partnership with the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School, including establishment of a NESS classroom in the school.
  • A new $133,000 federal AmeriCorps grant from the Connecticut Commission on Community Service, to positively impact students’ lives by integrating NESS’s science and sailing-based adventure education curriculum with Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School’s STEM Academy. Numerous private donations from individuals and foundations will also support this program.
  • A new partnership with Ocean Beach Park, including establishment of a NESS classroom at Ocean Beach and kayak launching amenities for NESS’s marine science classes.
  • A new partnership with the Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut and New London High School to offer a high school sailing team.
  • A Pfizer donation of 10 Flying Junior double-handed dinghies, a 17′ powerboat, and a floating dock to NESS for use by the high school sailing team.
  • A new partnership with Mitchell College, which has donated the use of their fixed dock on the Thames River for use by the high school sailing team.

To celebrate this initiative, NESS will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony and press conference July 8 at 9:00 am at its new classroom at Ocean Beach Park. The community is welcome to attend to meet representatives from NESS, its partner organizations, and invited guests and dignitaries.

Anchoring the initiative is the award of a $133,000 AmeriCorps grant from the Connecticut Commission on Community Service to hire ten AmeriCorps Members to teach students in the STEM Academy. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with NESS. This innovative AmeriCorps program has the potential to transform our students’ lives through the combination of NESS’s adventure STEM education and mentoring and assistance from AmeriCorps volunteers,” remarked Alison Ryan, Principal of the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School. The AmeriCorps program includes an extended learning program during the academic year for 200 students attending the STEM Academy at Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School as well as a summer learning program for 125 participants in Camp Rotary and New London Recreation Department programs.

In addition to a dedicated NESS STEM Academy classroom within the school beginning this fall, NESS opened a 1,100 sq. ft. classroom at the city’s Ocean Beach Park to serve as its base for marine science education and kayaking expeditions. Dave Sugrue, Manager of Ocean Beach Park, noted, “We’re so excited to bring this wonderful program to the park to get more kids involved in education and enjoying its nature beauty. This could be transformative — not only for the kids but for the Park itself.” NESS Program Director Mary Horrigan added, “Ocean Beach is an amazing resource. We’re delighted to be offering programs right in New London — programs that will foster connections between students and their community as well as the environment.”

In a new partnership with the Science and Technology Magnet High School of Southeastern Connecticut and New London High School, NESS will offer and manage a high school sailing team for students wishing to participate. “We’re looking forward to bringing the world of competitive high school sailing to the students of New London. It’s one of the few sports in high school and college where girls and boys compete on the same level,” commented Mark Zagol, NESS’s Sailing Program Director. “We would not be able to offer this if not for the generosity of Pfizer, which has donated sailboats and a powerboat for this program, and Mitchell College, which has donated the use of their dock,” he continued.

“NESS is incredibly grateful to earn the trust of our donors and partners as we grow our commitment to New London through strengthened partnerships and dedicated donors,” remarked Spike Lobdell, NESS’s President. “There are so many organizations working together to provide opportunities for New London children,” he said. “Among them we would like to especially thank New London Public Schools, the City of New London and Ocean Beach Park, Pfizer, Mitchell College, New London Recreation Department, Camp Rotary, Jennings Family Resource Center, Drop-In Learning Center, and New London Community Boating in helping to improve opportunities for the city’s children,” he added.

NESS acknowledges gifts from lead sponsors including The National Recreation Foundation; The Forrest and Frances Lattner Foundation; Montauk Foundation; Chester Kitchings Family Foundation; The Frank Loomis Palmer Fund, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; The TK Foundation; 11th Hour Racing; The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut; Dominion Foundation; Gowrie Group; Liberty Bank Foundation; Robert G. Youngs Family Foundation; The Bodenwein Public Benevolent Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; Dime Bank Foundation, Inc.; Charter Oak Federal Credit Union; and Chelsea Groton Foundation.

NESS has been working with the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School for two years to bring science and learning to life for students by getting them out of the classroom, onto — and sometimes into — the water. “This strengthened partnership and AmeriCorps award represent the next step in the evolution of NESS as a leading provider of STEM-based adventure education programming,” said Cindy Nickerson, NESS’s Executive Director. NESS’s STEM education curriculum includes the US Sailing REACH program, which uses sailing as the platform for teaching STEM concepts. NESS’s program promotes interest in STEM through experiential learning using sailing, kayaking, marine science, and adventure water sports.

NESS was named by US Sailing the 2013 Outstanding Community Sailing Center in America for its notable contributions to promote public access by demonstrating growth in program offerings, including partnerships, and community involvement and awareness. In 2013, NESS served 2,700 participants through its experiential hands-on science and sailing programs. Of these, more than 900 were sponsored by scholarship gifts and grants for underserved regional school children.


About New England Science & Sailing: Named by US Sailing as the Outstanding Community Sailing Center in the nation for 2013 and celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2014, NESS is a year round nonprofit 501(c)(3) adventure education organization dedicated to inspiring individuals to discover themselves through the enjoyment of the sea.  Through inclusive, small group adventure education programs, NESS offers opportunities for transformational personal growth and discovery as well as connections leading to community and environmental stewardship.  Transdisciplinary STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education provides relevancy and sparks learning. Need based financial aid makes programs accessible to all.

The Charles Morgan Journey


By Michael Johnson

The Resident

The Charles W. Morgan, a staple of Mystic seaport  is the last wooden whale ship in the world.  It  began it’s 38th voyage on Saturday.

The ship was towed to nearby New London, its first stop of a three-month-long trip to historic ports in New England.

The Morgan was built in 1841.  It has been docked at Mystic Seaport since 1941. On Saturday, The Morgan was guided  down the Mystic River by a tugboat. See more pictures on our Facebook page.  It was then pulled through Fishers Island and up the Thames River to New London, where it will dock at City Pier.

The Morgan will remain in New London until June 7. its next stop will be Newport Rhode Island, and then on to the ships port of origin, New Bedford Massachusetts.  The ships journey can be tracked on the mystic seaports website.







Charles W. Morgan Begins 38th Voyage


Tallship the Charles W. Morgan

On the weekend of May 17th, the whaling barque CHARLES W. MORGAN will make her first port of call in over seventy years with a stop at New London’s City Pier. This will also mark the first visit by a wooden whaling ship to New London in nearly a century, an event which is part of the MORGAN‘s historic 38th voyage. So historic is this voyage that the United States Coast Guard has designated the required permitting as “an event of national significance.”


When the MORGAN first came to Mystic some 75 years ago, she was set in a berth of gravel, with the quite reasonable expectation that age and decay had relegated her to a role as permanent display. And then a remarkable revelation and a new frame of mind emerged; first, the discovery that the ship could be floated, leading to decades as floating, mostly static, display; then, the restoration of these past five years, and the bold decision to return her to her native element.


The 38th voyage of the MORGAN has planned visits to Newport RI, Nantucket Island, New Bedford and Boston, MA, and points in-between. But the choice of New London, once America’s second most productive whaling port, was made for practical reasons, befitting that history and the working aspects of sailing America’s oldest commercial vessel. The Morgan will be docking in New London for final outfitting, the rigging of spars, bending on of sails, and loading of ballast, operations not possible at her home port of Mystic.


These events, set amidst this voyage of a lifetime, will be held on May 24 and 25, and again on May 31 and June 1st. The Charles W. Morgan will then make several trial sails, to allow her captain and crew to learn the intricacies of handling this revered ship. At the conclusion of her 38th voyage, the Morgan will return to New London, fully rigged this time. This entire process affords a one-time opportunity for today’s children to tell tomorrow’s heirs that, once, they witnessed a wooden whaling ship under sail in New London harbor.