Natalie Springuel has lived, played, and worked on the coast of Maine for nearly 25 years. After graduating from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Natalie became one of the first women to take her Maine guide’s exam specifically to acquire the certification needed to lead sea kayak tours, which she did with enthusiasm for the next decade, honing her skills not only in sea kayaking, but in navigation and the art of interpreting the natural world. She had first paddled a sea kayak at the ripe age of 18, in Alaska’s Inside Passage, where a field course on the ecology of Bald Eagles helped her discover that her life-long passion for the outdoors could turn into a life-long career choice devoted to the sea. Forever a believer that academics should match up with life pursuits, Natalie convinced her graduate committee that spending 2½ months paddling around the Canadian province of Nova Scotia was the best platform for studying coastal tourism and commercial fishing issues.
For the last 13 years, Natalie has worked as a marine extension agent with the University of Maine Sea Grant Program, based at College of the Atlantic. In 2002, following her grad school model, Natalie convinced her Sea Grant boss that paddling around the entire Gulf of Maine was the best platform for embarking on educational programming about this northwest Atlantic watershed. Her co-leader on this five-month expedition, Rich MacDonald, would soon become her husband and partner on most of her life’s great adventures since, including parenting; launching their nearly four-year old family business, The Natural History Center; and serving as lead naturalists for cruises chartered by National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion. And now, Family Nature Summit!
Today, Natalie’s work at Maine Sea Grant is focused on outreach and applied research in Maine’s fisheries heritage, as well as the working waterfronts and coastal communities reliant on the sea. She is the coordinator of the Downeast Fisheries Trail, a thematic Maine experience celebrating fisheries heritage, then and now, to help communities and visitors discover and learn. She comes to this Family Nature Summit excited to share her passion for the Maine coast, its islands, and its people.