Taking the ISEA Mission Around the Great Lakes

Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) announced their public summer sailing schedule this week. While the nonprofit provides educational programs to schools aboard tall ship schooners each spring and fall, this summer they will be taking their mission around the Great Lakes.

“This is a unique summer for us,” stated Fred Sitkins, ISEA’s Executive Director. “We are participating in tall ship festivals around the Great Lakes.” He went on to explain that the organization’s schooners Inland Seas and Utopia will be sailing to ports in Lakes Huron, Erie, Michigan, and Superior. Programming will be conducted in Hessel, Detroit, Trenton, Cleveland, Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Escanaba, and Duluth. While programming will vary in each port, ISEA will continue to promote their mission of inspiring Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship, and passion. “When we cannot offer our full science sails, our crew and ambassador will talk with guests about how we teach people of all ages about caring for our lakes,” shared Sitkins.

Inland Seas Education Association promotes stewardship of the Great Lakes through Schoolship programs for students in 3rd-12th grade, extended day trips for high school students, and day sails and charters for the general public. Participants learn about the health of the Great Lakes by taking samples and analyzing them. ISEA staff and over 120 experienced volunteer instructors guide learning in each program.

In addition to attending tall ship festivals this summer, ISEA will be providing programming in Suttons Bay and Traverse City. Keeping in line with their educational mission, many of the summer programs are science sails. Science sails include the three-hour Great Lakes Discovery Sail and two-hour focused sails (Great Lakes Under the Microscope, Fishes of Lake Michigan, What’s in the Great Lakes Food Web?, and Steady the Ship). Their first specialty sails offered this summer will occur on Father’s Day where a discount is being offered to fathers and their children who sail together. “We want to honor fathers and father-figures by providing this unique opportunity to spend time with their children,” said Stephanie Rustem, ISEA’s Program Coordinator. Other specialty sails this summer include breakfast, beer and wine education, and evening sky gazing.

Unlike traditional sailing attractions, ISEA does not offer public programs every day (check schedule here) as they continue to provide educational opportunities for youth, schools, and other groups. In addition to the Young Women in STEM three-day research trip, groups charter the schooner for their programs throughout the summer. This Chicago Yacht Club continues to sponsor a Young Women in STEM trip for their area youth, and University of Michigan professors use the schooner Inland Seas for extended summer learning for their classes.

Public summer sailing programs begin in June and support the organization’s operations to continue to provide Schoolship programs at affordable costs to school districts. ISEA’s summer schedule can be found at To learn more about ISEA’s programs, visit