Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

December 29, 2013

Inland Seas founder Kelly retires from dream job

SUTTONS BAY — Tom Kelly launched the Inland Seas Education Association in 1989 with the idea of protecting the Great Lakes. Since then, his emphasis has changed — as has the whole ecosystem of the lakes.

“Now we’re using ships and kids to change the Great Lakes,” he said just days before his retirement as ISEA’s first and only executive director. “And I’ll be just as interested.”

Since 1989, zebra mussels, quagga mussels and 150 other invasive species have migrated into the Great Lakes system in the ballast tanks of international freighters.

Their voracious zooplankton eating habits have clarified the water, which has allowed more sunlight to reach lake bottomlands,created underwater growing grounds for algae and a whole raft of problems for Great Lakes native fish and water birds.

ISEA has schooled 98,800 students, young and old, during the last 25 years and expects to hit the 100,000 mark during schoolship season in mid-2014.

Kelly’s last day of work was Dec. 20, but he will continue to work on donor relations and as a captain on ISEA’s 77-foot science education Schooner Inland Seas.

He said it’s a little early to tell yet what effect the program has had on stewardship, but the aquatic biologist is heartened by letters and talks with former students who have grown up, attended college and told him how their schoolship experience changed their lives.

Friends and colleagues describe Kelly as a humble, knowledgeable and thoughtful conservationist and scientist who thoroughly researches before making decisions.

“He has long-range vision and staying power,” said Jim Olson, a Traverse City environmental attorney. “He stays on course and that’s reflected in ISEA. The nonprofit he has built is groundbreaking, not to mention the body of knowledge and information he’s gathered.”

Kelly won a Lighthouse Award earlier this year from FLOW (For Love of Water), a water policy organization founded by Olson.

Text Only

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot