Big Gift for Small Program with Big Ideas on Small Island

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September 17, 2012; Source: Morning Sentinel

This story is a nice counterpart to Bill Schambra’s article published today by NPQ, entitled “Philanthropy’s War on Community.” The reason the announcement of a $1 million grant to the Hurricane Island Foundation off the coast of Maine caught my eye is because of the mission and programming of the organization, which sounds both future seeking and completely integrated and networked with its surroundings. I am simply going to pass along their own description from their website of what they do:

“The core initiatives of the foundation are the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, which runs hands-on, research-based programs for middle and high school students during the school year and graduate level teacher-training programs in the summer, and the Hurricane Island Biological Field Research Station, which hosts scientists conducting field research on Hurricane and in the surrounding waters. These programs are symbiotic with one another, with scientists providing on-island expertise to our Science and Leadership program, and students conducting research with scientists at the Biological Field Research Station. Facilities and staff are shared between the programs, bringing students into the world of scientists, and challenging scientists to make the relevance of their work accessible to young people. These initiatives are tied together by a critical thread. In each case – whether it is a high school student measuring ocean acidity, or a Ph.D. biologist taking stock of the lobster fishery – there is an implication for action that is based on data, and in each case the action is deeply consequential.”

I would like to pick up on that last point just a bit because it is worth remembering. When you are trying to help people envision themselves and flex as leaders, nothing is as powerful as having them work on a project with real consequence. Exercises and role-plays do not even begin to have the same effect. –Ruth McCambridge