ISEA History

1989

  • ISEA founded by Tom Kelly, John Elder, and Peter Doren
  • IRS 501(c)3 status granted
  • Established ISEA office in downtown Traverse City
  • First Schoolship programs begin aboard the chartered schooner Malabar
  • Over 1,100 participants this year

1990s

  • Zebra and quagga mussels arrive in Lake Michigan

1990

  • National Geographic Society documentary film, Great Lakes – Fragile Seas, airs featuring ISEA

1991

  • First six-day summer adult program aboard chartered schooner Manitou 

1992-1994

  • Fundraised $750,000 to build the schooner Inland Seas and cover initial operating expenses

1992

  • Schoolship and summer programs aboard MalabarManitou, and Cygnet
  • Over 5,000 participants sailed with ISEA since inception

1993

  • Treworgy Yachts contracted to build Inland Seas
  • ISEA received ASTA “Sail Training Program of the Year” award

1994

  • Inland Seas launch day in Palm Coast, Florida – May 18
  • Commissioning Ceremony for Inland Seas in Traverse City – July 30
  • First students sail on Inland Seas – August 2
  • Over 10,000 participants sailed with ISEA since inception

1995

  • First Young People in Stem Program

1996

  • New dock built for Inland Seas in Suttons Bay

1997

  • First trip to Milwaukee with Inland Seas for the Wisconsin Lake Schooner Education Association teacher training class
  • Over 25,000 participants sailed with ISEA since inception

1999

  • ISEA’s 10th anniversary
  • Students discover Cercopagis, fishhook water flea, in Lake Michigan during a Schoolship program

2001

  • ISEA received ASTA “Sea Education Program of the Year” award

2002

  • Purchased Northern Lumber property site in Suttons Bay and began renovations for new Inland Seas Education Center
  • First Invasive Species Field Program offered
  • Over 50,000 participants sailed with ISEA since inception

2003 

  • Opened Inland Seas Education Center
  • First boat building program offered
  • Governor Jennifer Granholm participates in the Schoolship Program aboard Manitou

2004 

  • First round gobies discovered in Grand Traverse Bay
  • First Great Lakes Discovery Program offered
  • Sloop Liberty donated to ISEA
  • ISEA received DTE Energy “Achievement in Excellence Award for Sustainability”

2005

  • First sail training programs offered onboard Liberty
  • First family programs offered in Inland Seas Education Center

2006

  • Opened Invasive Species Exhibits in the Inland Seas Education Center
  • Wetland Demonstration Project completed on Inland Seas’ waterfront
  • Hamm Outdoor Classroom Pavilion constructed

2007

  • Began after-school boat building classes with Suttons Bay High School students

2008

  • Over 75,000 participants sailed with ISEA since inception

2009

  • ISEA’s 20th anniversary
  • Inland Seas participates in first Michigan Schooner Festival in Traverse City

2010

  • Inland Seas sails to Chicago to take part in the Tall Ships Chicago 2010 event

2013

  • Founder Tom Kelly retires at year’s end
  • Fred Sitkins hired as ISEA’s second Executive Director

2014

  • ISEA’s 25th anniversary
  • Schooner Inland Seas turns 20 years old
  • Inland Seas Education Center building is 100 years old
  • Sold sloop Liberty to Whistling Winds Classic Yacht Charters in La Mesa, CA
  • Suttons Bay Visitor’s Center first housed in ISEA’s Education Center
  • Over 100,000 participants sailed with ISEA since inception
2015
  • Next Gen and Diving Deeper Schoolship programs created
  • Microplastics Sail developed and offered
  • Membership program restructured
  • Joshua Davis performed aboard Inland Seas
2016
  • Founder Tom Kelly passes away in January
  • Young People in STEM trips become three days
  • Schooner Utopia donated to Inland Seas
  • ISEA hosts the Grand Traverse Stewardship Initiative hub in Suttons Bay
2017
  • Underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) programs developed and offered to schools and the public
  • Teachers from four Great Lakes states participate in a 4-day Great Lakes Watershed Field Course
  • Four new two-hour programs developed and offered

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