Maritime Gloucester is pleased to announce its
2023 YEAR IN REVIEW.
We hope that you will take a moment and review it now. We are releasing this in conjunction with our
2023 Annual Appeal!
Our YEAR IN REVIEW is not your normal report! We had a lot to celebrate in 2023 as Gloucester turned 400 years old and Maritime Gloucester had a banner year of programming and events. As a driving force in the community, reflecting our values and our heritage, we are proud to serve Gloucester in so many ways. But we cannot do that without you!
Please take a moment to read our Appeal letter below. Our programs need your support so that we can continue to make a difference in the lives of our students, our members, and our community.
From the Desk of the Executive Director - 2023 Annual Appeal Letter
It was a typical, hot summer day at Maritime Gloucester. Our campus was filled with the sounds of young guests on field trips and summer programs. The education team had their work cut out for them guiding students, so I was helping
in the Sea Pocket Aquarium. As I worked at the touch tank, a young family entered with two sandy-haired girls in tow, who looked to be about 3 and 5 years old. These two girls scrambled down the stairs, jumping off the last one, and raced to the big round tank, nearly hitting their heads on the window of the tank in their eagerness. Their excitement was palpable. Later, they came over to peer into the touch tank and I began pointing out the various shells, creatures, and the fascinating array of marine life we have on display. The “showstopper,” as always, was the mighty moon snail, and the crowd-pleasing tale of how it bores a perfect circle through the shell of its prey as it seeks to devour the inhabitants. The young girls' eyes widened with wonder and "wows" and "oohs" escaped their lips. I gingerly retrieved the moon snail, which luckily was not attached to a shell at the time, and offered its slimy, gelatinous underside to be held. What happened next was captivating. The 3-year-old took center stage, giggling as I placed the moon snail on her outstretched hand. She was awestruck and fearless, quickly informing her father that “it tickles.” The 5-year-old, however, sought refuge behind her mother's leg, reluctant to touch the unfamiliar creature. I asked again if she wanted to hold it, but she retreated even further back. The family eventually moved on, exploring other options in the Maritime Science Education Center and on our campus before departing for other Gloucester experiences.
But the story doesn't end there! The next day, stepping out from my office, I discovered the same family coming in. I happily welcomed them back, and then the mother revealed why they returned: their 5-year-old was determined to touch that moon snail! I looked at her daughter, who met my gaze with a determined, beaming face, and quickly brought her to the touch tank, where she eagerly extended her hand. Placing the moon snail on her palm, I noticed her arm retract ever so slightly, but she did not pull away! What followed was the joy of discovery. It isn't so bad. It does tickle. Eew, it is slimy. Would it eat her? Why is it going into its shell? Many questions came falling out of her in this energized moment. But mostly, the experience was about her sense of triumph in overcoming her fear and pride in that accomplishment. The family stayed for a while longer, exploring more activities, before leaving. All was right with the world once again.
The Power of Maritime Gloucester
At Maritime Gloucester, transformational moments like this happen frequently, often unnoticed and uncaptured by us. When a young person engages in our programs and experiences, I can't help but wonder about the possibilities. What might become of this? Where does this new confidence or knowledge lead? What is that future like? Maritime Gloucester serves as a spark where these moments can evolve into new opportunities, deeper understandings, enhanced skill sets, and, yes, even entirely new futures.
Our Mission in Action
For 23 years, our hands-on learning programs and campus have made lasting impressions on countless individuals, families, and schools. We have grown into an essential resource for Gloucester, dedicated to offering innovative programs, engaging our community, and delivering world-class experiential education. We invest in our staff and our facilities to preserve our site for future generations. Some of those children we engage with stay with us for
years and participate in multiple programs and experiences. Some, like our visitors in the story, we engage with only once, but that impact can be powerful.
I invite you to learn more in our 2023 Year in Review. Here you will find out more about our impact and the programs we offer, like
- Maritime Apprenticeship Program (now in its 3rd year), a life-changing program for young adults, providing on-the-job training in maritime skills with career path opportunities.
- Ocean Explorers (now in its 20th year!) serving as an active STEM classroom for Gloucester Public Schools throughout the year. Recently we added Essex, Manchester, and Rockport students, bringing the number of students served through the Ocean Explorers program to 1,039 for this school year!
- Interns A.J. Lewis and Saige Racofsky, two ongoing program participants who demonstrate our goals, values, and impact.
- And our many other 2023 program highlights and exciting 2024 plans!
How You Can Make a Difference
We need your support today. Whether you choose to give a one-time donation or give through a monthly support plan, your donation shapes the future of Maritime Gloucester.
Our ability to offer these great programs and make a difference in our community greatly relies on the funds that we raise during our Annual Appeal.
We are deeply grateful for your commitment to our mission and impact. Please visit our website or use the enclosed envelope to make your contribution. With your generosity, we'll continue to be a beacon of hope, education, and maritime history for our community.
Michael De Koster