First published in Landings, October, 2016
In May 2014, the Maine Lobstermen’s Community Alliance (MLCA), the nonprofit sister organization to the Maine Lobstermen’s Association (MLA), conducted its first Maine Lobster Leadership Institute. The idea behind the Institute was simple: give young lobstermen and women the tools they need and encourage them to step into positions of leadership in an industry dominated by those over 50. The twelve men and women who took part in the first Institute spent one week learning about the management, science, and marketing of lobster before traveling to Prince Edward Island to see for themselves how lobstermen to the north operate. Now it is time to do it again.
By any measure, the first Institute proved hugely successful. In the two years since, some participants, such as John Tripp of Spruce Head, Chris Welch of Kennebunk, Dustin Delano of Monhegan and Herman Coombs of Orrs Island, became MLA board members. Others, such as Genevieve McDonald of Stonington, now serve on the state’s Lobster Advisory Council. Still others, such as Cyrus Sleeper of South Thomaston, became board members of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative. “The Leadership Institute taught me to plan for the future. I have 50 years ahead of me to fish and I know things are going to change. It’s good to think ahead,” Tripp commented.
The MLCA will reprise the Lobster Leadership Institute beginning in January 2017. With funding from the Lobster Research, Education and Development Board, the MLCA is recruiting 15 to 20 lobstermen and women under the age of 40 to take part in the training program in the winter/spring of 2017. The program takes place over several months, allowing for in depth exploration of the various topics and hands on learning. Participants will study lobster industry fundamentals – such as science, management and marketing – and take part in on-site learning experiences to reinforce those fundamentals. Finally, participants will travel to Canada in early May to be part of a lobster exchange program. “The breadth of the curriculum allows participants to explore the range of information necessary to join industry meetings and discussions and feel confident as future leaders of the lobster fishery,” said Patrice McCarron, MLCA president.
The 2017 program will build on the success of the first program, and offer additional opportunities, such as participating in the Maine legislative process, the Boston Seafood Show and the 8th International Lobster Science conference which will be hosted in Portland next spring. Established industry leaders and MLLI alumni will serve as mentors, facilitators and discussion leaders, reinforcing the lobster community and its leadership. MLCA plans to offer the program again in 2018 and 2019.
For Travis Otis, a lobsterman and boat-builder in Searsport, taking part in that first Lobster Leadership Institute seemed a natural thing to do. “It’s my industry. I was interested to see what happens to the lobsters after I sell them. We are sending our best lobster out into the world.” He said.
Interested applicants or those who know of young leaders in their community are encouraged to contact:
Patrice McCarron at 207-967-4555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
More detailed information and an application available here: 2017 Overview and Application