100 Dame St #218, Suttons Bay, MI 49682
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Our missionThe mission of ISEA is to inspire a lifetime of Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship, and passion in people of all ages.

Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA)

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Ways to help

Inland Seas Ambassador

Ship Ambassador volunteers are needed for tasks aboard either of the schooners that are not assigned to instructors or crew.As a Ship Ambassador Volunteer, you may: assist the cook on a Breakfast sail, share information about Inland Seas in a variety of settings, and provide support on chartered program sails.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Indoor, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Office Volunteer

Volunteer opportunities are available in the ISEA office on an on-going basis and for specific projects. Volunteers are needed to assist with office tasks and help promote Inland Seas and our programs. As an office volunteer, you may: answer phones; prepare mailings; research and prepare reports; input data; distribute rack cards; take photos and videos of programs and participants; assist with advertising, marketing, and graphic design projects; and perform additional tasks and projects as needed.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Office work, Indoor
  • On-site, Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Boat Shop Instructor Volunteer

Programs include young students working alongside experienced boat shop instructors to construct Optimist sailing prams, Viewing Boxes, and Solar Boats. Boat shop volunteers also assist with ship and facility maintenance projects. No experience is necessary.As a boat shop volunteer, you may: receive safety training on all of the equipment; observe veteran volunteers in action to learn about programs; use and maintain tools, equipment, and machinery; support the captain in maintenance and upkeep of the schooner; and keep shop cleaned and organized.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Indoor, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Fund Development Volunteer

In order to provide affordable programs, Inland Seas must raise funds for scholarships as well as to cover operational costs.As a Fund Development volunteer, you may: assist in writing grants; assist in management of donor relations including donor research, database management, and mailings; assist in corporate sponsorship program including prospect research; help with fundraising mailings; and work on special fundraising projects/campaigns.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Indoor
  • On-site
  • Weekdays

Crew Member Volunteer

Sail the Great Lakes as a volunteer crew member aboard our 77’ schooner Inland Seas. Crew members are needed for Spring and Fall Schoolship programs as well as our general public programming during the summer. Programs range from two to four hours each and vary throughout the day. Training will begin in spring for interested individuals. No prior experience is needed. As a crew member volunteer, you will: work alongside the captain to provide safe programs on board the ship; interact with participants as they raise the anchor, hoist the sails, and enjoy the trip; maneuver on the deck of a moving vessel in any weather; ascend and descend ladders; need to lift at least 50 pounds; be expected to pass a criminal background check and Department of Transportation drug screen.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

Building and Grounds Volunteer

Inland Seas would like to maintain a professional image for those visiting Suttons Bay. In order to do so, the grass should be cut regularly, the grounds kept clean, and the building well-maintained. Days and times to accomplish these tasks are flexible.As a building and grounds volunteer, you may: mow the lawn, rake and clean out bedding, paint, shovel snow, assist in wetlands maintenance, and perform general grounds cleanup and maintenance.
  • Occasional, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Physical, Outdoor
  • On-site
  • Weekdays, Weekends

GTSI Volunteer

The Grand Traverse Steward Initiative (GTSI) is hosted at Inland Seas and is part of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) network. The program is focused on connecting teachers and community partners, providing professional development and support to educators, and facilitating classroom projects. These are done through a place-based lens.As a GTSI volunteer, you may: work with educators and community partners, help set up events and professional development, and help with classroom projects.
  • Occasional, Weekly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Event support, Indoor
  • On-site, Formal
  • Weekdays, Evenings, Weekends

Schoolship Instructor Volunteer

ISEA’s Schoolship program is for students from 4th–12th grade. Students come onboard and participate in a three and a half (3.5) hour hands-on Great Lakes ecology experience, designed to promote stewardship of the Great Lakes. Our Schoolship instructors are trained by ISEA staff and become proficient in a learning station (no experience is necessary). Instructors guide students in small groups as they rotate through stations and discover the wonders of the Great Lakes. Our sailing season is mid-May through mid-October. Spring and Fall are dedicated to school groups. Volunteers are also needed for summer programs which are open to the general public.As a Schoolship instructor volunteer, you will: assist students (and adults) as they rotate through stations, learning about plankton, benthos, fish, water chemistry, microplastics, and seamanship and share information about Inland Seas with participants.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends

ROV Instructor Volunteer

Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV) are underwater robots that enable researchers and industry professionals to visually assess underwater areas that were once unreachable or too dangerous for human access.When classes come to participate in our ROV Engineer and Explore Program, students learn to collaborate in teams to design and build an ROV to complete specific missions. They also have the chance to steer a professional grade ROV to observe and explore the underwater environment. Students engage with engineering practices, learn how technology can help us observe and protect the Great Lakes, and gain exposure to career paths in marine technology and freshwater protection.ROV Volunteer Instructors are needed for helping guide our ROV programs. These programs are shorter than Schoolship and take place dockside, rather than out on the water.As an ROV Instructor, you will: support participants in designing and building ROVs through inquiry based questions, learn how to operate a professional ROV, support participants in navigating a series of ROV challenges, and teach about the importance of ROVs in Great Lakes research and protection.
  • Occasional, Weekly, Monthly
  • 55+, Adults
  • Individuals
  • Outdoor
  • Formal
  • Weekdays, Weekends
How you helpISEA is recruiting volunteers to support our mission of protecting the Great Lakes through education. Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and contribute their time and talents to our mission.
About usSince 1989, Inland Seas Education Association (ISEA) has provided learners of all ages with hands-on experiences aboard traditionally-rigged tall ship schooners, along the shores of the Great Lakes, and in local rivers, streams, and wetlands. As a non-profit organization located in Suttons Bay, Michigan, our mission is to inspire Great Lakes curiosity, stewardship, and passion. Our goal is to provide people with the information they need to become stewards of the Great Lakes. After 30 years and reaching more than 125,000 program participants, we are convinced that the scientists and citizens who will solve the Great Lakes’ problems of the future will sail aboard Inland Seas’ ships today. We hope you’ll join us on a program as a learner, supporter, or as one of our 120+ volunteers that keep our organization running.
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