Like the sunlight that is beginning to turn winter’s nutrients into the productivity of spring, ideas that have percolated in the colder months are beginning to take shape.

Those crummy cold weather days aren’t all for naught both ecologically and sociologically. All the goodies from the water column settle to the bottom and are recycled by ocean dwellers into usable nutrients that are then flushed again up to the surface once the temperature shifts

just enough to mix it all together again.

Sometimes we all feel like hibernating in the depths over the winter as well, and need a little nudging to get back to the surface to achieve the potential productivity of spring.

One annual event that has sought to do this is the Maine Fishermen’s Forum, held at the Samoset Resort in Rockland every year on the weekend the Farmers Almanac pronounces the most reliable foul weather weekend of the spring.

This ensures that the most fishermen will likely be able to attend. Attendees range from fishermen to scientists to chefs to educators — all taking a pause between deep winter and not-quite spring to think about how to be most productive as the season turns.

I first started going to “The Forum” back in college as a part of a course on Gulf of Maine fisheries. I later went as a sea sampler aboard lobster boats; and, then again when I worked on ocean policy. This year, I came for shellfish day, hoping to discover new opportunities in marine science education. I was not disappointed.

Searsport High School students spoke to a crowd of standing room only adults in brave scientific language about the green crabs and ribbon worms they’d been studying. Students from another project with Sumner Memorial High School in partnership with the Schoodic Institute, Downeast Institute and the Department of Resources showed off their work through posters they had created.

I left not only with new ideas, but also with new partnerships with organizations I didn’t know were working on marine resource education in the schools. This led to a follow-up meeting with the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust, and the Schoodic Institute to further share ideas.

We are now working together to coordinate our projects so that we can better address real marine resource needs going forward. We hope to create a network of student data collectors along the coast that could help to better inform shellfish managers about their local resources, providing them with information that they otherwise don’t have the capacity to collect.

If you’re a teacher interested in being involved, you can get in touch with me and I’d be happy to connect you further.

Also, moving into the summer as teachers are sorting out plans for the fall, we talked about ways to get more teachers involved in innovative projects without asking them to invent a whole new lesson plan.

One local effort is an upcoming teacher workshop sponsored by the Casco Bay Estuary Partnership, a region-wide non-profit with education as part of their mission. The workshop, which will be held at the Brunswick High School on Aug. 4 will provide teachers with tools and networking opportunities for place-based science education projects like what the Searsport and Sumner students are doing. It is a free event open to teachers in the Casco Bay region — and you’ll leave with a goodie bucket of outdoor teaching materials to boot!

Please contact me about this as well if you are interested, as space is limited and advanced registration is required.

I’m grateful to events like the Maine Fish Forum for bringing people together to form these new partnerships. And for reminding me that the depths of winter aren’t all for naught after all — they can provide the necessary primordial soup of sorts for the fresh ideas of spring.