Here's what your philanthropic support makes possible. Thank you!
Vision: Strong Kids. Healthy Planet. It is our vision that every child will grow into an adult able and committed to better our world.
Mission: To guide learning in nature that grows empathy, resilience, grit and a deep connection to the earth. We provide nature connection programs at sea and on land, for all ages, in all seasons, to inspire a deep connection to land and sea, a strong sense of self, and compassion for all.
Core Values: Safety, Hope, Education, Nature Connection, Community, Family, Leadership, Respect
Core Philosophy: Founded as BOAT CAMP in 2007 by Rob and Kate Yeomans, Merrohawke Nature School is now one of at least 75 nature connection organizations nationally, and 150 internationally, that emerged out of the 1970s environmental movement and self-identify as an 8Shields organization. Developed by Jon Young in 1983, the founding belief of 8Shields was that with active mentoring, ceremony, the arts of tracking and survival, and a culture of mentors who all value deep immersion to place, we can return children to the same intimate relationship to the natural world as was held by our indigenous ancestors. These children will then grow up to consciously appreciate, protect and nourish the natural world, their community and themselves.
Complementing the 8 Shields methods applied at Merrohawke are many of the principles and practices of Waldorf education, which seeks to nurture the physical, emotional, intellectual, social, artistic, and spiritual capacities of youth as they grow through ages and stages of life. We seek to grow whole human beings, and in this way, our time in nature deepens our connection to self, community, and the earth.
Service Area: Merrohawke in 2017 delivered 26,635 hours of nature connection to 2,200 youth, aged two to teens, who live within a 50-mile radius of Newburyport. This includes the south-eastern coast of Maine, Merrimack Valley west to the New Hampshire’s Monadnock Valley, and south to Boston’s South Shore.
Funding: Merrohawke operates on 71% program tuition and 29% philanthropy. In 2017, donors funded $29K in full and partial scholarship support for students.
Field Sites: Based in a small classroom on the Newburyport waterfront, Merrohawke provides nature connection programs on land and sea through carefully tended vendor relationships with passenger boats (F/V Erica Lee, Yankee Clipper, & Captain’s Lady fleet and Lowell’s Boat Shop), and private land owners (Coachman’s House Property at Maudslay State Park, Earth Harmony Sanctuary, and Jennie Lagoulis Reservation, owned by Essex County Greenbelt). Additional partnerships are developing in 2018.
Staff: Merrohawke operates with five full-time staff, 14 seasonal staff and 12 teen volunteer apprentices. The staff:student ratio is 1:6, sometimes 1:4. All full-time staff have significant field experience, and college degrees (including graduate degrees) and certifications in environmental education, science teaching, early childhood education and/or Waldorf education. All adult staff are certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. Kate and Rob Yeomans are also US Coast Guard licensed captains.
Board of Directors: Merrohawke is stewarded by an active, engaged, passionate board of volunteers.
Thomas Murray, president, onboard since 2012
Sally Milliken, vice-president, onboard since 2011
Vania O'Connor, treasurer, onboard since 2014
Sarah Gurtman, secretary, onboard since 2016
Preston Carey, onboard since 2014
Ingrid Cyros, onboard since 2018
Jennifer LeDuc, onboard since 2013
David Marroncelli, onboard since 2016
PJ Solomon, onboard since 2016
David Ten Eyk, onboard since 2015
"One of the salient problems facing us today
is children's alienation from the natural world.
They are too creeped out to touch earthworms,
they don't know where their food comes from,
and they are afraid to walk in the forest alone.
Or, if they are in the forest, they can't see the forest for their iPhones.
We, and our children, are easily seduced by the panoply of digital treats.
It is so much easier to be a couch potato than to plant potatoes.
The result is that twenty-first-century children spend
eight hours a day interacting with digital media,
and only 30 minutes a day outside.
[Let's] shape a generation of young adults who are grounded in nature,
selectively mature in their use of technology,
and committed to environmental preservation."
- author David Sobel
Your philanthropic support makes it possible for Merrohawke to serve 2,200 youth annually from families living within a 50-mile radius of Newburyport, Mass. It is our vision that every child will grow into an adult able and committed to better our world, and with this intention in our hearts and minds, we are committed to guiding learning in nature that inspires empathy, resilience, grit and a deep connection to the earth.