Northern Michigan’s most well-traveled educational ship, Grand Traverse Bay’s Inland Seas, warmly welcomed its 100,000 student-passenger in June of 2014.  Inland Seas, the flagship of the Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA), has served as an interactive educational vessel for Northern Michigan kids for 20 years, and Platte River Elementary’s Emma Quick (pictured in a pink fleece above) became the 100,000th student to board the famous Northern Michigan boat for tour across West Grand Traverse Bay.

Thursday, June 5th marked a milestone for Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) as they welcomed the 100,000th student aboard the Schoolship. Emma Quick, a sixth grader from Platte River Elementary, received the honor of boarding the schooner as the 100,000th student to participate in ISEA’s one-of-a-kind, hands-on, science-based, educational programs on the Great Lakes.

It was a beautiful day to celebrate down by the water, and all of the students, volunteers, and party-goers had a chance to take part in honoring the accomplishment as the schools arrived in port after their field trip. As part of celebrating the 100,000th student, ISEA dedicated their new sails to the late Dr. Larry Garber, a long-time volunteer, donor, past board of directors’ president, and dear friend of ISEA. Martha Garber, Larry’s wife, was there to receive the honor as well as to be recognized for both her and her husband’s support to ISEA over the years.

With all of the milestones that ISEA has had this year—from the schoolship schooner Inland Seas turning 20 to the organization turning 25—it’s hard to imagine that in 1989, ISEA was only a dream. At the time, Tom Kelly, who would go on to found ISEA, was looking for a job that incorporated sailing, stewardship, and students. But there was nothing like ISEA anywhere he looked. So Tom Kelly took a chance, and 25 years later, ISEA is still one-of-a-kind.

Being almost completely volunteer-based, ISEA’s growth throughout the years surprised even the founder himself, which makes the parties this summer all the more special. It is not only through these achievements that ISEA celebrates, though. Every day when a student walks through ISEA’s custom Education Center and learns something new about sea lampreys or zebra mussels, when that student becomes a hands-on learner and scientist on the schoolship, those moments are celebrated. ISEA’s staff and expansive volunteer base rejoice whenever students show a passion for the Great Lakes, their science, and, most importantly, their stewardship. That is what ISEA is.

To celebrate all the milestones in 2014, Inland Seas will be hosting the Great Lakes Celebration, Saturday, July 26th from 11 am–5 pm at the Inland Seas Education Center in Suttons Bay. The event will be filled with many exciting activities such as schooner tours, a volunteer reunion, regatta, sailing demonstrations, classic boats, carnival games, food, and music. The event is slated to be a fun, family-friendly day and is free to the public.

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