The Lift All Boats Project

A student lobstering mentorship program

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The Project

In 2022, four intrepid students, Cristiano, Mogga, Justin, and Joshua, joined us to launch the Lift All Boats project, a student lobster mentorship program built to help give Maine students without traditional access to the working waterfront an entry point into Maine’s heritage lobster industry. Since its maiden voyage in 2022, 20 students have been able to spend their summer days lobstering under the mentorship of our co-founders Luke Holden, Jeff Holden, and Ben Conniff, teacher/fisherman Wiley Muller, and lobsterman Steve Train. The students spend 50+ hours each summer on the water and the docks learning how to set and haul traps, maintain their gear, and operate a boat safely. Other members of Luke’s senior management team and our partners at Island Institute provide mentorship on business and financial management. The students are able to sell all of their catch to Luke’s Lobster directly after landing at our buy station in Portland, Maine. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Lift All Boats project next year, they can learn more and apply here.

The Why

Part of the beauty of the Maine lobster industry is the tight-knit community around it. But that can also be a challenge for someone who may not have grown up in or around fishing wharves. We want to give kids with no industry connection who wouldn’t know where to start, or might be afraid they don’t fit in, a chance to get out there on the water and gain an appreciation for this beloved industry. Kristan Porter, President of the Maine Lobsterman’s Association and lobsterman from Cutler, Maine sees the program as a great lesson for Maine students, "There's a certain segment of Maine's population that doesn't have access, or doesn't even know that this way of life exists. But it's part of our heritage...this program brings light to the industry, and that it isn't for privileged people. You can't buy in. You have to work your way in.” Maine’s student lobster license program requires access to mentorship, gear, a boat, and other resources that are only available to current fishermen or industry insiders. The Lift All Boats project provides access to those resources to students who want to work in the industry but aren’t equipped.

The Future

Moving forward, we’ll scale this program to make a more significant impact, and our students and their communities will take a leading role in determining how the program evolves to meet their needs. We’ll also share learnings from this program with other industry groups and marine sectors such as kelp and shellfish farming and groundfishing, so they can start their own versions. Over time, we hope we’re just a small part in developing equitable pathways to commercial fishing for all. You can donate directly to the program here.

Get Involved

We would not be able to do this work without the generous support of donors and volunteers. We want to thank Island Institute, Machias Savings Bank, Maine Beer Company, XtraTuf, Kennebec Savings Institute, Rocking Moon Foundation, and other generous donors, as well as our local public high schools and the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Maine for their support of the program. 

If you or someone you know is interested in joining the Lift All Boat program next year, they can learn more and apply here