Sanctuary receives donation from Shipmasters’ Association

ALPENA – The International Shipmasters’ Association Lodge 19 donated $500 to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary to help defer the costs associated with bussing students to the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center for field trips Thursday. For over six years the association has been donating $500 that is matched by the schools coming to the center for transportation costs.

“This is a great place for students to visit,” association member Max Lund said. “By helping with bus travel and having it matched by the schools, students are able to learn even more about the Great Lakes.”

The International Shipmasters’ Association has been around since 1893, and the local lodge has been in operation since 1983. The association has been involved with the sanctuary and its education opportunities for several years.

“This donation helps bus all the kids and get them to the sanctuary building to look at the history of the lakes, or get out on the water and help with their education,” ISMA Lodge 19 president Lee Barnhill said. “When we first started this we were helping to get 800 students here, now thousands come to the sanctuary every year.”

The sanctuary offers many different opportunities for student education through interactive exhibits such as Science on a Sphere, and is the docking site of the Glass Bottom Boat Tours. These educational opportunties provide students with a close-up look at shipwreck artifacts, maritime history and features of the Great Lakes.

“We have so many great opportunities for students here, but the districts are so challenged with their budgets now,” sanctuary superintendent Jeff Gray said. “The generosity of the shipmasters’ has allowed literally thousands of students an opportunity to come to the heritage center and learn more, not just about the history of the Great Lakes, but what’s going on in the Great Lakes today.”

There is a plaque located on the path behind the Maritime Heritage Center building representing the ISMA, including some history about the association and it’s connection with the Great Lakes, that was installed last summer and serves as another form of educaiton.

“The plaque is part of our overall interpretation,” Gray said. “What we want to do is share how the Great Lakes, Lake Huron and the Thunder Bay River are all connected, and that this isn’t just history, it’s living history.”

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.