The Maine Fishermen’s Forum has awarded a total of $385,886 in scholarships since 1998 to students related to a person who is actively involved in the seafood industry. The scholarship criteria are simple: Applicants must be a sophomore, junior, or senior in college; they must have an immediate family member actively participating in Maine’s seafood industry; they cannot have won the scholarship before. The awards given each year are based on the amount of money donated and raised through the annual Fishermen’s Forum Scholarship Auction each year.
Landings will introduce you to some of this year’s winners throughout the year. Our first profiles are of two young women whose fathers are commercial lobstermen.
Alayna Caricofe is the daughter of Sean Caricofe, an East Machias commercial lobsterman who also dives for sea urchins. Her mother, Molly Preston Calder, is a teacher. Caricofe went to high school at Washington Academy and is currently attending the University of Maine at Machias (UMM), part of the class of 2019. She is majoring in biology with a minor in environmental studies. “I chose the biology field because I’ve always really enjoyed science and I’m passionate about nature. My goal is to become a wildlife biologist,” she said.
Caricofe, who is a self-proclaimed “hands-on learner,” said that UMM fits the bill perfectly for her way of learning. “I really enjoy the direct and involved learning experience that UMM provides, especially for someone in the science department. The professors know who you are and care about your success, making it easy to get help when a topic is difficult for you.”
She credits her family members and a grade school teacher with influencing and encouraging her to pursue a degree in the sciences. “My family is a huge motivator for me. Without them, I wouldn’t be on the path I am today. I also had an awesome science teacher in grade school at Edmunds Consolidated, David Winski, who first made me realize I really do enjoy science.” Caricofe said her ultimate goal is “to have a positive impact on the protection of our planet and its natural features.”
In addition to the Fishermen’s Forum scholarship money, which she said is “a huge help,” Caricofe has a work-study job at the UMM Merrill Library plus she works throughout the summer. “Every penny of the scholarship money is greatly appreciated! It takes that much more stress off myself and my family considering the investment that going to college is. It’s also a great feeling to be helped by your community and motivates me to do my best to give back in the future.”
Harriet “Hattie” Train grew up on Long Island and is the daughter of lobsterman Steve Train and teacher Marci Train. She comes from a long line of fishermen. “At least four generations of my family have been fishermen in the Casco Bay area on my father’s side. My grandfather on my mother’s side comes from a fishing village in Nova Scotia, so fishing in the Gulf of Maine is in my blood on both sides,” she said. “Growing up I often would be involved in either gear work, or buoy painting or sterning as well as fishing on my own for a while.”
Train went to Cheverus High School in Portland and is now attending the University of Maine in Orono where she is majoring in marine science with a minor in fisheries. She too will graduate in 2019. “I kind of surprised myself when I decided to choose this major. I have to say there have been a lot of different influences in my life that led me to it,” she acknowledged. “My father being so involved in the scientific and policy end of the fisheries [Train’s father is a member of the Maine Fishermen’s Forum Board and an Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission member] as well as my mother always pushing me to look more closely at the ecosystem that surrounded our community were the major factors. But I was also really drawn into it after listening to different presentations and to people who have spoken at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum over the years.”
Train is excited about how college has enhanced her life. “What I have enjoyed most so far is learning about things that I’ve almost come to take for granted. I understand them in so much more detail now,” she said. Learning about how ocean and coastal ecosystems work and pairing that knowledge with her own observations gained from growing up on an island and fishing have been truly stimulating.
In addition to the Fishermen’s Forum scholarship money, Train spends her summers working full-time to offset her student loans and pay for school. “I was a lifeguard at Crescent Beach State Park in Cape Elizabeth during the last two summers plus I worked as an intern for the Island Institute the summer after high school,” she said. “This summer I am interning with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland.”
Train hopes to someday work in the policy area of fisheries. “I want to help keep the Gulf of Maine fisheries sustainable and keep fishermen able to continue with the way of life that they have come to know as normal. Commercial fishermen, lobstermen especially, don’t just do it because it’s their job. Fishing is more of the identity they have and a way of life. It is who people are and I never want to see that disappear,” she said.