Where Have all the Educators Gone?

Where do Clearwater Educators go when they disembark?
By Tom O’Dowd, Clearwater Educator

This question is especially poignant to me as I prepare to leave my post after two years—where will I go next? That question has not been answered yet, but the storied line of educators gives me encouragement. Many have risen to the top of the world of environmental/place-based education. Some have moved on to related fields, usually choosing the “environment” or the “teaching” path or both. Some have done things completely different.

Here is a sampling of the careers of Clearwater Educators past:

Steve Stanne: He is known as the father of the Clearwater education-sail. He is a master educator, excellent musician, and superb human being. And he is tall. “Tall Steve Stannes”, as I heard Pete Seeger call him one day on WAMC, is un-missable on his daily walking-commutes that take him the entire length of main street New Paltz. Where is Steve today? After serving as Clearwater’s education director, Steve eventually went on to become the Estuary Education Coordinator for the Hudson River Estuary Program , in partnership with the NYS Water Resources Institute, Cornell University. He is one of the main proponents of the “Day in the Life of the Hudson River” program, which takes Clearwater-style education stations to the shores of the Hudson every October, bringing thousands of students out to take a “snapshot” of the river. Inspiring. And intimidating! Is everyone else as impressive? Yes.

Chris Bowser: “Bowser” to everyone who knows him is a force of nature. Also ridiculously tall (a requirement of excellent enviro-educators?), and louder than the dickens, Bowser has inspired many people as a Clearwater crew member, educator, education director, and even a short stint as executive director. I was lucky enough to be an education intern for Bowser on the Mystic Whaler back in 2003. Today, Bowser is wowing people with eels, along with his encyclopedic knowledge of the Hudson River and ridiculous songs. His two (!) official titles are: Science Education Specialist – for the Hudson River Estuary Program, and Education Coordinator -for the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve. Surely these two are the only educators who’ve become education directors and otherwise Hudson River wise men? Wrong!

Dave Conover: Dave is the current Education Director at Clearwater and also a Marist Professor. Not to mention a fish lover, story teller, and Benedict Arnold impersonator! Furthermore, Dave was co-author of Clearwater’s Key to Hudson River Fishes along with the two fine gentlemen listed above. He has spearheaded Clearwater’s River Cities Initiative to bring programming to several age groups in the Newburgh School District and beyond! Dave created educational programming as a result of connecting and visiting with schools in Greenland, and even had a delegation from Greenland come to New York to sail on the sloop! They told fish stories and discussed our shared concerns about PCBs and Global Warming. Wow.

OK, obviously this list of Clearwater Educators is going to be long and impressive, and this is supposed to be a blog not a dissertation, so from here on out I will summarize, from amazing to amazing:

Maija Niemistö: Maija is the current Director of Shipboard Education at Clearwater -the first of her kind! She once sailed from Minnesota to New York. She has performed blue-grassy-folksy music at the Clearwater Festival with her uncle in the appropriately-named band Nemö! She plays the harp!

Jocelyn Bertovich: Almost missed her spot on this list because she has been one of the onboard educators for the past two years! Her time officially up, she gets a spot here as well. Incredible educator, co-worker, and organizer of education drawers/shelves, Jocelyn is now headed to a farm  – and some sweet waves – in Hawaii! Mahalo, partner!

Nina Sander: Director of Education at Sustainable South Bronx. Wow!

Linda Richards: Educator, musician and human extraordinaire, Linda was a teacher, Clearwater tideline program director, and then Clearwater education director as well! She has come back to Clearwater as our Festival Volunteer Coordinator/Events Coordinator/Power of Song Coordinator. Linda gets good people to help, be entertained, and be the next Pete Seeger(s)!

Eli Schloss: Eli is the current Tideline Program Director. He has held a captain’s license and sailed the brackish waters of the Long Island Sound and the Chesapeake Bay onboard Soundwaters and the Lettie G. Howard, among other tall ships. He has a model green home. In short: the man!

Chris Letts: Chris is now a Hudson River Educator for the Hudson River Foundation. Awesome!

Jeannine Cahill: She graduated from Pace Law School in 2012 from the environmental law program and just recently passed the Bar exam! She is married to Kitama Seeger Jackson, Pete’s grandson, and now goes by Jeannine Cahill-Jackson.

Kristen Cann-Washer: Kristen is now the Program Director at Salish Sea Expeditions and also married to Scott Cann, former Clearwater captain.

Travis Jeffrey: Travis is a former educator who became a Clearwater captain.

Al Nejmeh: Al is also a fomer educator who became a Clearwater captain.

Julia Wilson: Julia is yet another former Clearwater educator who became a Clearwater captain! Julia is a New Paltz native, naturally, and now owns her own business in Hudson, NY, called Estuary Chiropractic and Healing Arts.

Rick Nestler: Former Yonkers cab-driver-turned-Clearwater-educator still helps out with the Tideline and shore based programs. Rick continues to play songs at the Clearwater Festival and other events. And he still hates eating pumpkins!

Dorina Frizzera: As far as I know, she’s the Environmental Scientist I at New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection – Coastal Management Program. Amazing!

Tora Johnson: Tora is now an Instructor of Geographic Information Systems and Director of the GIS Service Center at The University of Maine at Machias. She’s written a book on whaling and another on invertabrates! How multi-disciplinary…how Clearwater!

Dan Einbender: Former On-land/Power of Song educator, Dan is now a co-director of the Rivertown Kids, and helped produce their Grammy award-winning collaboration with Pete Seeger—the album Tomorrow’s Children!

Nancy Bernstein: This link says way more about her than I can:
Nancy Bernstein: Building an efficient lifestyle

David Allen: Writes about the Hudson Valley for the NY Times! Check out these articles:
Circling Manhattan (Bring Extra Socks)
On a Sheet of Ice and Under Sail on the Hudson

Hatti Langsford: Educator! Farmer! Phillies Bridge Farm Project board member! Uses second life to teach teachers how to teach!

Allyson Bizer-Knox: Allyson co-established Clearwater’s Young Women at the Helm onboard immersion program. A true renaissance woman, artist, naturalist, educator; check out her website at http://www.knoxboxstudio.com.

Shelly Berlincourt: Shelly is now an Energy Efficiency Consultant at Willdan Energy Solutions in NYC!

Sarah Slack: Sarah was a Clearwater educator who was a big fan of “HR in a Jar”, or Hudson River in a jar, an onboard activity. Sarah went on to the New York City Teaching Fellows program, and is now an 8th-grade science teacher in Brooklyn.

Sean Madden: Sean is now a biologist (ecology) for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation!

Brian Mohan: Brian served for 2 years as a Clearwater educator, and has been a long-time “Super Volunteer” and substitute educator.  Brian continues to work as a professional photographer in New Jersey, as he did before, during, and now after his time aboard!

Liz Schale: Former Mystic Whaler educator, Liz is now the Garden Coordinator at Bellingham Washington School District in Bellingham, WA.

Brian Forist: Brian is co-author of The Hudson: An Illustrated Guide to the Living River, basically the Clearwater education program Bible! Since leaving Clearwater he has spent much time as a ranger for the National Park Service in Indiana as well as doing environmental education for non-profits. We believe he is now a PhD student at Indiana University.

Creek Iverson: Farmer, farm song-singing educator, Creek is a legend in the farm, song, and environmental education worlds!

Becky Rowland: Becky is now a graduate student at Antioch New England, (Dave Conover’s, Steve Stanne’s, and Brian Forist’s alma mater!)

Daniel Kricheff: Daniel worked at the U.N. and now studies at the University College London! Quite!

Nicole Singer: Nicole has a Masters of Arts in Teaching and Art Education fromTufts, and is now teaching art and technology at Duggan Middle School in Springfield, MA.

Shannon McMulkin: Former Mystic Whaler educator, Shannon has returned as a Clearwater crewmember for the winter.

Kat Murphy – Former Mystic Whaler educator, Kat is currently Marine Science Educator at Ocean Classroom.

Conclusion: Clearwater/Mystic Whaler educators are a bunch of cool cats, and er, salty dogs who have a lot of great skills to contribute to the world! To quote a great (land-locked) educator: “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch!”

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