SSC Celebrates 30 Years!

Wendy Lull | Seacoast Science Center President Emerita

Governor Judd Gregg and Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin cutting the ceremonial ribbon of kelp during the grand opening of Seacoast Science Center in 1992.

On a bright, sunny day in June of 1992, Rye Elementary School students, then-Governor Judd Gregg, Executive Councilor Ruth Griffin and I cut a ribbon of kelp to open the Seacoast Science Center. There was so much excitement for what lay ahead: our new facility would enable us to facilitate novel learning experiences for visitors and school groups, deeping their connection to our coastal environment. Now, nearly 30 years later, that goal prevails but with greater focus: the Center aspires to motivate conservation by providing insight, offering a platform for investigation and discussion, and remaining responsive to the community’s needs.

As President Emerita, I helped chart the course for the first 25 years of the Seacoast Science Center’s operations. My tenure afforded me the opportunity to see outcomes of our work firsthand. Campers from the early years were returning with their children, enrolling them in the preschool programs and camps. Students returned to tell us of their careers in the marine sciences inspired by their time at SSC, and families became long-term members who enjoyed bringing their friends and out-of-town guests to their Seacoast Science Center. The community shared their anticipation of our citizen science and special fundraising events year after year, clearly demonstrating their commitment to protecting and preserving our planet.

A family participates in a beach cleanup during BioBlitz, SSC’s annual citizen science event, where families and field experts come together to record data on the plants and animals of Odiorne Point State Park.

Our robust museum’s visitation and program enrollment continued to grow through the years, warranting two construction projects: the 2004 renovation enabled better visitor flow and more energy efficient life support systems. The 2007 expansion and creation of the Gregg Interactive Learning Studio gave us the capability to deliver technology-enhanced programs onsite and connect with schools not only across the country, but internationally as well—it was groundbreaking to connect with students from Australia for the first time!

Advances in science and technology changed our understanding of the natural world and our influence on it, and enabled us to share information like never before. We can now access dynamic data visualizations of our planet, take students undersea with scientists, or use a camera to project critter close-ups on a big screen. These rich resources allow us to incorporate teaching methodologies where you can observe with greater focus, dive deeper into a subject of interest, and think critically about your experiences and perceptions.

In 2017, I retired from my gratifying career as President of Seacoast Science Center and Jim Chase took the helm. I had the pleasure of working with Jim for more than 20 years and I knew that between his dedicated leadership at the Center and in the community, along with his passion for the Center’s mission to spark curiosity, enhance understanding, and inspire conservation of our Blue Planet, the Center would be in great hands and the transition would be easy. 

Your Seacoast Science Center, now entering its 30th year of operation, is entrusted to a diverse and resourceful Board of Directors, a passionate and dedicated President and CEO, a talented professional staff, and committed volunteer corps, who share this vision for its future: to maintain a Seacoast Science Center that is a safe and welcoming space for all—a place for gathering; a place for honest, open conversation and fact-based education; and a place that celebrates our special place here on the New Hampshire Seacoast.

Thank you for your trust in the Seacoast Science Center. We appreciate you and the many Rye families whose participation and support have enabled us to reach this milestone. If you have never visited, or have been intending to return, please make this the year you do. We may have come a long way, but we are just getting started.

At the Center’s new Edge of the Sea exhibit, visitors can get hands-on with creatures that live between the tides, view them under powerful magnification, and dive deeper into learning via digital resources.

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