Gretchen Carlson, program manager at the Gundalow Company, teaches children about the science and history of Seacoast waterways. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Gretchen Carlson, program manager at the Gundalow Company, teaches children about the science and history of Seacoast waterways. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Inspiring the next generation

Gretchen Carlson, program manager at the Gundalow Company in Portsmouth, teaches children about the science and history of Seacoast waterways

Gretchen Carlson was a river rat — tooling around the river from the time she could handle a boat, observing every critter that swam and dove and fished.

Now, as program manager at the Gundalow Company, she teaches children about the science and history of Seacoast waterways. And she inspires a whole new generation of river rats.

Onboard the Gundalow Piscataqua, a replica of the barges that moved goods and people around the Piscataqua River watershed starting in the 1600s, Gretchen is all questions to a crew of fourth-graders: “Is it high tide or low tide? Where do phytoplankton get their energy? Do you think seals eat lobster?”

Gretchen is a former elementary school teacher with a graduate degree in climatology; she and her crew of volunteer educators work with about 2,500 kids every year.

On board, youngsters are scientists, navigators, observers — and crew. The philosophy of the Gundalow’s hands-on environmental and history
education is simple: “If you experience it, you will care about it. If you care about it, you will protect it.”