Wendy Lull, who has been at the Seacoast Science Center’s helm since it opened in 1992, has announced her retirement next spring, 2017. Lull’s visionary leadership and infectious enthusiasm transformed the then newly established center into the nationally respected informal marine science education institution that it is today.
Lull led the merger of Friends of Odiorne Point and SSC Inc. into Seacoast Science Center, Inc. and the transition from operating as a division of New Hampshire Audubon to an independent non-profit entity in 2002.
Today, over 80,000 visitors and over 25,000 school children participate in Center programs each year. For many students, it is the first time they have seen the sea, with the opportunity made possible by one of the Center’s designated funds to assist underserved youth.
“Wendy has been a remarkable President for this organization,” said Board Chair Richard Samdperil. “For almost 25 years, she has been such a passionate and inspiring voice for environmental conservation and ocean education. The Board is extremely grateful that Wendy has stayed with the Center for so long and has chosen to leave at a time when, as a result of her extraordinary leadership, strategic planning, and development initiatives, the Center is in a great position going forward.”
During Lull’s tenure, over $3.2M has been raised for capital improvements through National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grants and private funding, including the $1.1M Gregg Interactive Learning Studio that enables the Center to be both a content provider and video conference site for distance learning programs.
In 2009, the Center opened its signature exhibition on humpback whale ecology, launching a new direction for its permanent exhibitions from interpretive displays to multi-disciplinary, critical thinking-based stations. Building on this framework, the exhibit now teaches about marine mammal and ocean conservation, and showcases the largest collection of marine mammal skeletons on public display in northern New England.
Lull led the effort to obtain a Stranding Agreement from the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2014 and established a marine mammal rescue response program at the Seacoast Science Center; the first time a New Hampshire-based organization was responsible for responding to federally protected marine mammals. Typically, the Center’s Marine Mammal Rescue Team responds to seals, however, in June it played a key role in responding to the carcass Snowplow, the humpback whale that washed up on a beach in Rye. The complexity of that effort inspired Lull to propose the creation of a large whale response plan for New Hampshire at the multi-agency response debrief held at the Center on September 19th.
Of her time at the Center Lull says “It has been a real honor to have to helped fulfill the dream of visionaries and volunteers like Annette Cottrell, Parks Director Russell B. Tobey, Howard and Phyllis Crosby, and Barbara Newall to create a year-round marine education institution. Decades ago, they saw the potential of Odiorne Point State Park to inspire and engage New Hampshire citizens and visitors about the importance of understanding nature and the ocean. My job has been to grow that dream into a viable and vibrant learning resource. Having just completed a new business plan, with a strong and dedicated Board and staff, it is now time to turn the helm over to a new leader who can set the direction for the Center’s future course.”
Wendy has served on a number of boards and committees including: University of New Hampshire Sea Grant Policy Advisory Committee; New England Ocean Action Network, New Hampshire Spatial Planning Project, New England Museum Association, Portsmouth Athenaeum, and NH Coastal Scenic Byway Advisory Committees; science grant reviews for the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the National Science Foundation; and was the first woman to serve as President of the Board of Governors, Port of Portsmouth Propeller Club. She received the Odyssey Award from her alma mater, Oakland University, Rochester, MI and has been recognized as an Outstanding Women in Business by New Hampshire Magazine Business Review and a New Hampshire’s Women of Distinction by New Hampshire Magazine.
The Seacoast Science Center has begun the search for Lull’s successor. A description of the position of President has been posted at www.seacoastsciencecenter.org. Qualified applicants should email their application to SSC Vice President of Operations Allan Waterfield at email@example.com or mail it to Seacoast Science Center, 570 Ocean Blvd., Rye, NH 03870. The Seacoast Science Center Board of Directors anticipates announcing the new President in spring 2017.