As part of the grant awarded to the East Williston School District, Long Island Traditions and the Regional Studies Program are embarking on a new partnership that explores the sustainability of maritime culture in the age of Hurricane Sandy and the decline of commercial and recreational fishing in New York. This is the only maritime program supported by NYSCA in the state.
As part of this program, students learn about the history of the maritime industry on Long Island, examining its transition from a subsistence occupation to one that once supplied over 75% of the nation’s shellfish. They also learn how technological and fiscal challenges affect the industry. Students learn from fishermen and baymen what kinds of ecological and economic changes have occurred and how government, scientists and fishermen have both collaborated and differed on seeking solutions for problems. In addition, students learn about the designs of tools used by fishermen such as nets, decoys, traps, boats and other objects that incorporate traditional design elements. They learn about the traditional design principles embodied in these tools and how they have changed over time. This program is part of the College Regional Studies course developed and taught by Dr. John Staudt.
On Wednesday, students had an opportunity to learn directly from the maritime folk artists, including Ken Budny (Clammer & Decoy Carver), Chris Hale (Half Model Boat Builder), Flo Sharkey (Clammer), Tony Sougstad (Dragger Fisherman) and Ed Thomas (Bayman). Students from Dr. Staudt’s classes were thoroughly engaged by the presentations and the opportunity to try the hands-on work of these maritime artists.