Inland Seas Education Association Utopia Update

Inland Seas Education Association Utopia Update

By: Fred Sitkins, Executive Director

Inland Seas Education Association was very excited to receive the Impact 100 TC grant in 2017. We began work on the schooner Utopia immediately in anticipation of having her ready for final Coast Guard inspection in Fall 2018. But like any renovation of a seventy-year-old asset, it did not run as smoothly as expected.

It is rare that a project of this kind of undertaking can be pulled off without some hiccups. Inland Seas has spent most of the winter dealing with a variety of hiccups, causing the first phase of the Utopia retrofit to take much longer than anticipated. Our winter was spent doing demolition work to gain access to the underwater portion of the hull needing repair. These pictures show the results of some of that demolition. Unfortunately, the further we dug the more areas we identified for repair.

This expanded work, combined with an untimely knee replacement surgery and a broken ankle on the two welders originally dedicated to this project, have exasperated the delay. We have hired a new welder to begin the steel repairs, but because we are so far behind schedule Utopia has to be moved to a different location in the marina lot so she doesn’t interfere with the launching of other boats. This must be done before further work can be completed. The latest round of snow has delayed that move.

With all of that said, we expect to shift our attention from demolition to repair within the next couple of weeks. Our welder is ready, the shipwrights performing the wood repairs are ready, and the weather is improving. While we are a little behind schedule we are still confident that the needed repairs will be completed and the boat put back in the water in August. This unfortunately affects any summer programming we had hoped to schedule on the ship, but if all goes well, she will be ready to welcome students aboard in the fall for dockside programs. We will continue the steps to seek a Coast Guard license to carry passengers for Utopia as soon as all repairs are made.

The difficulties we have encountered with this major project would have been insurmountable without the funding we received through the Impact 100 TC grant. This grant, the assistance of our dedicated volunteers, and the tolerance of Irish Boat Shop through it all have continued to push us through every hiccup we’ve come upon.

PEACE Ranch breaks ground on Experiential Therapy Center

PEACE Ranch breaks ground on Experiential Therapy Center

By: Hannah Bouwmeester, Impact 100 TC

Nestled back on Hoosier Valley road in Traverse City is a tranquil farm appropriately named “PEACE Ranch.” At first glance, it resembles a regular farm; horses, outbuildings, and gardens.  However, it is so much more than that. I recently had the opportunity to meet with Jackie Kaschel, executive director, and learn about PEACE Ranch, one of Impact 100 TC’s 2017 grant recipients.

PEACE Ranch is home to 17 unique rescue horses, most of whom have suffered some sort of abuse or neglect and were difficult to place. These horses act as “therapists,” helping those who also are struggling with the effects of trauma in their own lives. Sound crazy? Don’t be so quick to judge. In 2010, President Obama allocated funds to provide Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP) to veterans, and according to Psychology Today, it is “undoubtedly on its way to becoming the new “must do” form of healing” (

Jackie explained that unlike dogs or cats, horses are powerful prey animals. Naturally predisposed to read emotions and body language, horses are non-judgmental. Individuals receiving EAP benefit from increased confidence, mindfulness, connectedness, and more. PEACE Ranch offers therapy to people from all walks of life, but often are working with children and veterans. One veteran in particular went from being a suicidal recluse to becoming a state-certified Peer Support Specialist. Because of PEACE Ranch, there are many stories like his to tell.

PEACE Ranch was awarded the Impact 100 Grant in 2017, and with it came big plans. Jackie (in collaboration with Child & Family Services of Northwest Michigan) is working on developing the very first Experiential Therapy Center integrating Art, Music, and EAP. They recently broke ground on the project and construction of the center should be completed in June. A multidisciplinary team is being assembled and trained at PEACE Ranch, and with the new training and programming being rolled out this year, they should be able to serve twice as many children and families as last year. Currently, PEACH Ranch offers regular classes and events including “Hug and Groom” and Herd Meditation. 400 words just doesn’t do EAP or the ranch justice, but I will say that as someone who has suffered from childhood trauma, I was surprised at how emotional and moving this experience was. If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of trauma in their life, please visit or call 231-499-4736 for more information.