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USDA Rural Development Business and Cooperative Programs Administrator Judy Canales Tours Ocean Classroom Foundation as a part of her Visit to Maine

Ocean Classroom Founder and President Alix Thorne talks with Administrator Canales about the business.

(left to right) Camden National Bank Senior Vice President Jack Williams; Ocean Classroom Foundation recent Discovery High School Student and Recipient of the Alix Thorne Most Outstanding Shipmate Award Charlie Campbell; USDA Administrator Judy Canales; Maine Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel; and Ocean Classroom Foundation Founder and President Alix Thorne.

As a part of her recent trip to Maine, USDA Rural Development Administrator for Business and Cooperative Programs Judy Canales visited the Ocean Classroom Foundation, in Boothbay Harbor. This unique non-profit organization teaches its students, mostly young adults, life skills through learning how to sail and navigate the open sea.

The administrator listened intently as Executive Director Peter Neil explained how the organization obtained Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan funds through USDA Rural Development and local lender Camden National Bank. The organization had tried to obtain financing several times, but it was the partnership between the bank and USDA Rural Development that finally came through for them, providing the working capital needed to continue their mission of teach young people to sail and building their confidence along the way.

One student, 18 year-old Charlie Campbell, joined the conversation to share his life-changing experience with Administrator Canales, “My favorite part of sailing is when you can no longer see dry land, when you can feel the wind in your face out at sea. The experience has transformed me and helped me realize what is possible,” he said. Charlie has logged over 4,000 miles at sea and has recently set his sights on becoming a captain- something he never would have considered before his semester abroad at Ocean Classroom.

Of her visit to Ocean Classroom, Administrator Canales said, “This is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when a local lender cares about the community it serves. The partnership created by this project supports an important cause- investing in the future of Maine’s maritime heritage through education of our next generation of leaders. Across the country the Business and Industry Guaranteed program is helping to revitalize rural communities by putting people back to work and supporting local businesses.”

USDA Rural Development Maine State Director Virginia Manuel said, “Administrator Canales’ visit helped to highlight the importance of our guaranteed loans to Maine’s economy.”

The Ocean Classroom Foundation supports approximately 70 jobs that would have been “set adrift” without the loan it received, according to Camden National Bank Senior Vice President Jack Williams.

(left to right) Camden National Bank Senior Vice President Jack Williams; Ocean Classroom Foundation recent Discovery High School Student and Recipient of the Alix Thorne Most Outstanding Shipmate Award Charlie Campbell; USDA Administrator Judy Canales; Maine Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel; and Ocean Classroom Foundation Founder and President Alix Thorne.

Ocean Classroom Founder and President Alix Thorne talks with Administrator Canales about the business.

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