Women on the Waterfront

Lucky to have Pauline Dion on our shores

Thu, 04/07/2022 - 8:45am

On the anniversary of the 60th year celebrating Windjammers Days and maritime history, we pay homage to our founder, Captain Marion Dash for her contribution as a female role model in our maritime community. It is her legacy that has inspired the Friends of Windjammer Days to celebrate the women who are working on the waterfront today who in turn inspire young girls and future maritime generations to come.

Pauline Dion is a co-founder and the President/Executive Director of the Boothbay Sea and Science Center (BSSC), a nonprofit organization offering affordable access to the waterfront for youth ages 5 - 17. The Center teaches youth about marine science and sailing but it is so much more than that.

As any good mariner will tell you being on the water builds independence and self-confidence. It is here that teamwork and appreciation for the ocean happen naturally. BSSC offers a STEM-based curriculum that includes experiential hands-on activities that guide youth to discover what lies between the surface and the seafloor. BSSC provides youth the opportunity to master new skills and soak up this knowledge much like a sea sponge soaks up the nutrients from the sea. Dion adds, "It's about history, it's about literature, it's about art and architecture, it’s about the marine trades, it’s about science, it’s about water safety skills, it’s about seamanship ... and it’s about so much more. It's all about life skills, leadership, teamwork, and forming lifelong friendships."

A lifelong sailor herself, Pauline chaired the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club's Junior Sailing and Tennis Programs for about seven years. It was during this time that she came up with the idea for the BSSC recognizing the benefits of introducing, at an early age, sailing, marine science and responsible stewardship of the land and sea. Dion was the perfect person to take on this endeavor having an extensive amount of experience in teaching and fundraising most of which has benefited the lives of many local children in lots ways. Volunteering has always been an important part of her adult life and as Pauline says, "My passion is providing youth with equal and affordable opportunities that they would otherwise not think possible."

The Boothbay Sea and Science Center opened its doors in 2013 and has served more than 200 children ages 5-17 from all over the world, but Dion's vision does not stop there. In addition to the summer program, she offers an in-school BSSC program called Exploring the Science of Seaweed Farming. A collaboration with Maine Seaweed Farmers, this program, in its fifth year, has extended its reach beyond the Boothbay peninsula and is now in 11 Maine middle-schools and 1 high school. This “growing” program helps students to explore the conditions under which kelp grows. Seaweed farming is done during the winter months and is a rapidly growing industry on the Maine coast. These students get to learn in real time from seaweed farmers and aquaculturists what growing seaweed, mussels, clams, oysters, and scallops is all about.

“Entering our 10th year of programming, I am most grateful for the support I continue to receive from the BSSC Board of Directors, and from the many community partners and collaborators that help BSSC offer quality programs. And I am deeply honored to have the ongoing vote of confidence from Foundations that support equal and affordable youth programs and from the BSSC families, donors, and friends. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to bring more youth to the waterfront and helping them to gain a deeper understanding about all that is sea and science while getting wet and having tons of fun!”

Nicely done, Pauline Dion and the Boothbay Sea and Science Center. How can anyone not help but love and support a program whose promise is "No child will be left sitting on the dock."