Hillevi Jaegerman ’20
Blending academic pursuits with real-world professional experiences
As an employee of Basket Island Oyster Co, located in beautiful Casco Bay in the Gulf of Maine, Hillevi Jaegerman ’20 knows first-hand that working on an oyster farm is not an easy job. After graduating from Tufts with a degree in Biology, Hillevi knew she wanted to further her education, but she struggled to find a graduate program that would blend her academic pursuits with real-world professional experiences. Returning to her hometown of Portland, Maine, she discovered the Institute of North Atlantic Studies (UNE NORTH) Professional Science Master’s in Ocean Food Systems (PSM) — a program where she could build on her first-hand experience and knowledge of the aquaculture industry.
Growing up in Maine gave Hillevi an appreciation for the cultural and economic role the ocean plays in coastal communities — an appreciation that's been a source of motivation for her and her work. Combining the professional aspects of aquaculture and ocean food systems with the educational knowledge she’s gaining in the PSM program, Hillevi hopes to help foster a more robust and sustainable aquaculture industry in Maine, and expand the industry’s reach well beyond the state's borders.
“As an oyster farmer, I've witnessed an explosion of small LPA farms — limited purpose agriculture leases — and it's great! The more oyster farmers in Maine, the better. We're all trying to promote a 'Maine' brand of oysters, so it can be known nationally, and possibly globally, as a premium product. However, with the growth of so many small farms, there's only so much that we can sell in Maine, and that's where my interest lies. I’d like to help support small farmers, like myself, to have somewhere to sell this great product. There's really an untapped potential.”
With her goals in mind, Hillevi has been working to make the most of her time in the PSM program. Spending two weeks in northern Maine’s Cobscook Bay, she gained insights from those on all sides of the industry. More recently, Hillevi, along with the other students enrolled in the PSM program, spent time in Iceland, a country whose aquaculture industry is one of the world’s most fully developed. There’s little doubt that Hillevi took note of every strategy employed in Iceland, in hopes of making use of similar strategies in her potential upcoming project focusing on addressing growth barriers in shellfish aquaculture.
Though she’s proved to be unparalleled in her drive and passion for her work, recently receiving the Doherty Foundation Fellowship is something she credits for helping bring her goals to fruition.
“The Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation made it possible for me to participate in the PSM program. I’m really thankful for the foundation’s interest in ocean food systems and how the foundation acknowledges the importance of professional preparation in this field. Aquaculture is a growing industry, one that will become increasingly important as we try to increase food production while also supporting small communities.”
Many years ago, a serendipitous meeting during a four-day sea kayaking trip on Chesapeake Bay began a relationship that has yielded enormous dividends for the trajectory of marine science programs at UNE. Walter Brown, president of the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Foundation, found himself paddling with outdoor enthusiast and former advancement officer Nicole Connelly, whose description of UNE’s unique coastal campus and marine facility intrigued him. As one of the nation’s leading funders for marine sciences and education, the Doherty Foundation invests in institutions capable of robust oceanographic activities. After a September visit to the Marine Science Center and subsequent proposal, Walter and his fellow board members gifted $1 million to endow the Henry L. and Grace Doherty Chair of Marine Sciences at UNE. It was a momentous event in the University’s history.
Fast forward ten years later. Dr. Barry Costa-Pierce, recruited to become UNE’s first Doherty Chair of Marine Sciences after an international search, has helped shape UNE’s marine science program into a world-class operation in collaboration with his esteemed faculty colleagues. Not surprisingly, the launch of UNE’s unique Professional Science Masters in Ocean Food Systems recently attracted the Doherty Foundation’s renewed investment in UNE’s growth. With a $400,000 gift, the foundation is funding substantial tuition and travel support to 12 Doherty Fellows enrolled in the program over the next three years, providing these promising young people unparalleled opportunities for study offered nowhere else around the globe. With deep gratitude, we thank the Henry L. And Grace Doherty Foundation for the dividends their giving has yielded for UNE, its students, and the marine world.