Aquaculture Pioneers launched in 2022 to support the growth of Maine’s aquaculture industry through a partnership between Educate Maine and FocusMaine. The program addresses a documented and immediate need for talent in a state that is now providing the majority of seafood for global consumers. This paid internship program connects aquaculture businesses to new talent and creates a culture of professional training, building on principles and practices of long-term stewardship of Maine’s ocean resources.
Aquaculture Pioneers was launched under the umbrella program, Maine Career Catalyst, an experiential learning program designed to introduce interns , apprentices, and co-op students to the array of career opportunities and the high quality of life in Maine. Students from Maine’s community colleges and four -year universities were the initial target audience with a focus on increasing the availability of farm-based internships for students interested in gaining hands-on experience outside the classroom as they build their career path.
The 2022 pilot launched with 10 interns at farms in midcoast and downeast
Maine and featured a two-day Aquaculture Bootcamp for interns to level set on industry knowledge, network with leaders, and align important skills needed for job success . Aquaculture Pioneers has also partnered with other emerging programs to create new onramps and pathways to career advancement, including micro-credentialing through the University of Maine and a newly created registered apprenticeship program in Aquaculture . The program is poised to expand across Southern Maine and include placements of 20 interns in 2023 after positive feedback from interns and employers in our pilot year.