Hannah Dyer '21 Grabs Future by the Yellowtail
When she was an eighth-grader, Hannah Dyer of Brooklin had no clear career aspirations. “I really didn’t know what I wanted to be,” she said.
But after settling in at George Stevens Academy, Hannah decided to step beyond traditional courses, like math and English. “Going into high school, I didn’t know anything about marine animals,” she said, so she decided to take a leap into Ocean Studies her sophomore year “just for fun.”
In that course, Hannah “met a lot of cool classmates” and “learned a lot from Dr. Flenniken.” She and her classmates did field-based research; interacted with marine scientists, fisheries-related businesses and policy experts; and participated in the Eastern Maine Skippers Program, winning the Great Idea Award for their work on a remotely operated vehicle at the regional end-of-year Skippers presentations in May.
Megan Flenniken, the Ocean Studies teacher, was impressed by Hannah's work. “Hannah is talented and inquisitive,” she said, “and I thought she would gain a lot from an internship.”
Flenniken, friends with Carla Scocchi, who works in 4-H youth development at the University of Maine, suggested that Hannah look into a summer opportunity with the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research in Franklin, a project with which Scocchi was involved.
“I didn’t really know what aquaculture was all about,” Hannah said, but she decided to go for it, and “my experience in Ocean Studies prepared me quite a bit.”
With six other interns, Hannah spent eight weeks raising yellowtail kingfish, hatching them, weighing them, checking their dissolved oxygen, and feeding them till they were ready to sell to sushi restaurants. They had to be the “right size,” she said, “they don’t want them to be humongous.”
The interns also cleaned the halibut tank. “They are huge fish,” she said. “They’re pretty cool. We got to dissect one and grill it.”
The summer program included visits to Sea and Reef Aquaculture in Franklin, a business that raises and sells aquarium fish to retail pet stores, and to Little Island Oyster Company in Brooksville, owned by GSA parents Frank and Tonyia Peasley.
“I learned so much about [aquaculture], but also about marine biology,” Hannah said of her experience. The GSA junior thinks both fields are “really cool,” and it looks like she is firmly on track to a future in either or both.
To that end, she is currently enrolled in GSA’s Marine Ecology Research Honors course and plans to create an alternative course contract to continue her research in yellowtail kingfish with Flenniken, some of which may be used for a Maine State Science Fair project.
Also, Hannah is considering a project in sea urchin restoration or another internship with the Center for Cooperative Aquaculture Research for her GSA Independent Study and Internship Project, a program in which most GSA juniors and seniors participate every February.
Whichever ISIP she chooses, it looks like Hannah no longer wonders where her future lies. It lies in the ocean.