NESS History

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Click on the years below the graph to learn more about the history of New England Science & Sailing

New England Science & Sailing - 2002

New England Science & Sailing was created in 2002 by the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club with the mission to develop sailing and educational programs that benefit the community at large. We started out that year with just 14 children, 8 tiny boats, and a big dream of being inclusive of those who love or want to learn about the water. A catalyst for this initiative was the initial donation by the Rogers family on behalf of their father and mother, Syd and Harriet, who embodied all the principles that our community sailing programs are based on seamanship, sportsmanship, safety, and fun.

New England Science & Sailing - 2010

In 2004, we became a nonprofit 501(c)(3), separate from Stonington Harbor Yacht Club, and adopted the SHYC Sailing Foundation name. We continued our mission of inclusiveness as we grew to serve more and more children each year with instructional sailing programs. In 2008, we added a marine science program to expand options for getting on the water to those children not keen on sailing. That year, we also began renting our current location, 70 & 72 Water Street in Stonington Borough, to give us more elbow room and dock space to accommodate our expanding classes and fleet of boats. 2010 saw the addition of our first full-time staffer as well as our popular surfing program, which began our adventure sports program.

New England Science & Sailing - 2011

In 2011, we ceased renting and purchased our Stonington facility to secure our permanent home on the harbor. That same year, we were selected by US Sailing as one of the first nine Community Sailing Centers in the country to be recognized under their new accreditation program.

New England Science & Sailing - 2012

In 2012, we changed our name to New England Science & Sailing Foundation to note the large role science education was playing at NESS. We also committed to year-round operations by hiring full-time, year-round program directors, and we were chosen by US Sailing as one of a handful of centers around the country to help develop the US Sailing REACH STEM lesson plans.

New England Science & Sailing - 2013

To recognize our programming and outreach efforts, we were selected by US Sailing as the 2013 Outstanding Community Sailing Program in the country. Also in 2013, we obtained our youth day camp license from the Connecticut Department of Public Health for our Stonington location.

New England Science & Sailing - 2014

In 2014, we became a US Powerboating Training Center as well as a certified surf school by the National Surf Schools & Instructors Association. To better serve students in surrounding communities, we began offering programs in both New London and Westerly in partnership with local organizations. And with the awarding of an AmeriCorps State grant in 2014, we believe we now run the only AmeriCorps program in the country that uses sailing as a platform for building confidence and other life skills in underserved youth.

New England Science & Sailing - 2015

In 2015, NESS taught over 4,700 students. This was an increase of 1,500 students in just one year! Our numbers kept growing due to the high demand for our programming. At the STEM Magnet Middle School (part of the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School) in New London, Connecticut, NESS SEA AmeriCorps educators work with students every day. In 2015 we had two classrooms within the school so that we can spend more time with students and teachers. In March 2015, NESS took New London Community Boating (NLCB) under its umbrella to offer a greater variety of programs as we work year-round with the children of New London.

New England Science & Sailing - 2016

In 2016, we continued to advance our mission of building bright futures and were nationally recognized for our success. We taught 7,500 students in locations throughout Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York, for a total of over 100,000 student-hours of learning. Over half of our school students received financial aid that enables them to participate. We received US Sailing’s Creative Innovations in Programming award in recognition of our work in New London, CT. NESS Program Director MARY ANN HORRIGAN was chosen by US Sailing as the Outstanding Program Director in the country for 2016. US Sailing, the governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States, annually presents the Outstanding Program Director award to one individual in the nation that has made notable contributions to promote public access sailing in the development and organization of a sailing program. Spike Lobdell, founder, President, and CEO of NESS, received two national awards in 2016. On November 5, 2016, Spike received the National Recreation Foundation’s Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize in recognition of his service to the youth of New England. Spike was also awarded the US Sailing Community Sailing Committee’s Outstanding Organizational Leader award for his leadership, vision, and personal drive in leading NESS

Click on a year to learn more about the history of New England Science & Sailing.