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Merrohawke Nature School Inc.

 PO Box 235, 54R Merrimac Street
 Newburyport, MA 01950
[P] (978) 463-2233
[F] --
Kate Yeomans
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 26-1462660

LAST UPDATED: 11/19/2015
Organization DBA --
Former Names BOAT CAMP Nature School, Inc. (2012)
BOAT CAMP Inc (2007)
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years No


Mission StatementMORE »

Provide meaningful outdoor education programs ashore and afloat, for all ages, in all seasons, to inspire a deep connection to land and sea, a strong sense of self, and compassion for all.

Mission Statement

Provide meaningful outdoor education programs ashore and afloat, for all ages, in all seasons, to inspire a deep connection to land and sea, a strong sense of self, and compassion for all.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015
Projected Income $464,795.00
Projected Expense $458,078.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • Forest Kindergarten
  • Nature Programs
  • Summer programs for grades K-12

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Mission Statement

Provide meaningful outdoor education programs ashore and afloat, for all ages, in all seasons, to inspire a deep connection to land and sea, a strong sense of self, and compassion for all.

Background Statement

Merrohawke Nature School was co-founded by Captains Rob and Kate Yeomans in November 2007. A year-round, youth-serving organization, Merrohawke provides nature-immersive programs for upwards of 1,600 youth from the cradle to college, ashore and afloat, annually.


Originally known as BOAT CAMP Inc., the organization offered summer-only programs on a passenger boat from 2008-2010. In autumn 2011, programs expanded on shore during the school year. In January 2012, the organization initiated the first phase of rebranding by changing the name to BOAT CAMP Nature School. On March 15, 2014, the organization changed the name to its final iteration, Merrohawke Nature School. Merrohawke employs five full-time staff and 25 seasonal/per diem staff, is overseen by a board of nine directors, and is supported by 18 student volunteers. Its budget for 2015 is $454K.


Programs include summer marine education programs onboard three passenger vessels and on 30 acres of land in Newbury, afterschool programs, school year entirely outdoors Forest Kindergarten, birthday parties, spring and fall floating lab field trips and community outreach.


Merrohawke’s nature education programs create meaningful learning outdoors that enables kids to connect to themselves and to the earth on their own terms. We dig holes to China, catch frogs, dig for worms, catch fish, haul lobster traps, build epic sand castles, paint pinecones and pebbles, construct forts, fairy houses and shelters, start fires with flint and steel, climb rocks, and camp under the stars on coastal islands in the middle of the sea in summer. Time in nature while attending Merrohawke plants seeds of inspiration that children bring home with them and can lean into during their busy lives. At Merrohawke, youth discover nature is forever a place where they can find comfort, creative inspiration, adventure and strength.

Impact Statement

During 2014, we:
  • We rebranded to a name that more meaningfully reflects all that we do and believe.
  • In partnership with the Essex County Community Foundation, we revised our original bylaws and elected first slate of board officers that do not include founders.
  • We are completing a partnership campaign with Essex County Greenbelt to permamnetly protect 30 acres of land on which to run our nature education programs. 
  • We served 1,600 students and delivered over 19K hours of nature connection programs.
For 2015 we would like to:
  • Increase philanthropic revenue to support operating costs
  • Successfully transition founders off the board of directors and onto the staff.
  • Increase our impact through added summer and school-year programs with meaningful partnerships in our community.

Needs Statement

We are proud to operate on 70% earned income from program revenue, however the remaining 30% is critically important to continued success. Our top need for 2015 is clear: we must increase our base of donors and supporters to reach a modest development goal of $156K, with a strong foundation of support to build on in the years ahead.

CEO Statement

Merrohawke is unlike any other organization in New England with its emphasis on both land and sea, offering summer programs on the water focused on building lasting connections to the earth. Merrohawke is neither a summer camp, a science school, nor a recreation program--it is a nature school that uses an indigenous based method of teaching youth about the outdoors with the intent of creating time and space for youth to meaningfully develop a lifelong connection to land and sea by first falling in love with the earth on their own terms. Use of passenger vessels, rowing dories, and deep-rooted local knowledge makes this unique experience possible for all youth.

Board Chair Statement


Geographic Area Served

In a specific U.S. city, cities, state(s) and/or region.
We primarily serve children, families and teachers in coastal communities along the Lower Merrimack Valley, Essex County and the New Hampshire Seacoast.

Organization Categories

  1. Environment - Environmental Education
  2. Education - Elementary & Secondary Schools
  3. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Under Development


Forest Kindergarten

Our Forest Kindergarten program is modeled around German Waldkindergartens, in which all of our class time is spent entirely outside!

Outdoor classrooms naturally create learning opportunities for children to nurture their own curiosity, perhaps by following animal tracks and sign, making wild crafts with leaves and treasures found on the forest floor, or using fallen logs as balance beams. This is different from a "nature preschool," which infuses lessons with nature-inspired themes and balances indoor time with outdoor time, as we will be outside the ENTIRE time in all but extreme weather conditions.

Each day we embrace the weather, the forest, and our friends with songs and greetings of thanks. We will embark on our time together with natural hands-on learning, storytelling, and exploring the world around us. This is a great opportunity for children to spend quality kid-time enjoying freedom outside and connecting with our natural world, their own self and each other.

Budget  $65,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Early Childhood Education
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Success for us is defined by program growth and increased enrollments, as well as positive feedback from parents.
Program Long-Term Success  Children will develop enhanced sense of self, deepen their connections to nature, and strengthen their social/emotional skills in preparation for their elementary schooling years. Time in nature makes kids stronger, and as modern childhood has moved inside, the Forest Kindergarten preserves every child's right to engage in the outdoors.
Program Success Monitored By  We regularly conduct parent satisfaction surveys and harvest word-of-mouth and informal feedback.
Examples of Program Success  Enrollment numbers are growing 10-15% each year.

Nature Programs

In addition to two signature programs, Summer & Forest Kindergarten, Merrohawke offers numerous other programming, including homeschool classes, afterschool programs for youth and teens, Adult Nature Club, birthday parties, floating lab field trips for local schools, and outreach.
Budget  $128,000.00
Category  Education, General/Other Education, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) Adolescents Only (13-19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success  Programs have consistent enrollment and steady growth rates.
Program Long-Term Success  Our success is measured by the longevity of families and schools engaged in our programs, which we are starting to track, and the consistent steady enrollment.
Program Success Monitored By  Parent surveys and enrollment tracking.
Examples of Program Success  Children who attend our summer programs continue on in the school year through afterschool programs, and vice-versa. In addition, we are building long-term relationships with schools and local organizations that serve at-risk populations so that we may also expand our reach to all youth and not just those who can afford our programs.

Summer programs for grades K-12

Our summer BOAT CAMP marine and land-based nature connection  programs are the heart of what Merrohawke Nature School is about. We celebrate land ans sea and hope to inspire sound stewardship of the earth to enhance the quality life in the greater Newburyport community. Our programming is based on a foundation of respect for learners of all abilities and ages, respect for traditional ways of harvesting and understanding New England fisheries, and respect for the importance of environmental sustainability as it relates to the health of the earth. Parents are pleased to know that our environmental education curriculum is connected to state and national frameworks, the principles of ocean literacy, and a pedagogy that emphasizes hands-on, place-based, experiential learning. Kids are happy to know that our primary goal, always, is to have fun!
Budget  $250,600.00
Category  Education, General/Other Elementary & Secondary Education
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Program Short-Term Success  Exceptional demand for programs proves we are serving a need in our community for youth programs.
Program Long-Term Success  Youth who participate in our programs grow to pursue advanced education and careers in marine and environmental sciences.
Program Success Monitored By  We regularly seek parent feedback through surveys and informal conversations, and refine our programs accordingly.
Examples of Program Success  Upwards of 98% of families participating report that their children have deepened their connection to nature.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments



CEO/Executive Director Ms. Katie M. Yeomans
CEO Term Start Nov 2007
CEO Email
CEO Experience Kate grew up on the water messing about in family-owned recreational boats along the salt marshes behind Plum Island and sailing the coast of Maine as far Downeast as Roque Island with her grandfather before heading to sea as a deckhand on the Newburyport Whale Watch boat Capt. Red at age 12, a seasonal job she held for more than ten years. During this time she attained, and still holds,  a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain's license.

In May 2011, Kate earned  a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Education at UNH. In August 2011, Kate and Rob were personally selected among applicants worldwide to participate in an Associate Mentoring program where together, and individually, they were mentored by  Jon Young, an internationally acclaimed author, tracker and mentor. Today, Kate is continuing this journey through personal mentoring with Mark Morey to enrich her understanding of creating high quality, meaningful nature connection programs for our community. Kate is certified in wilderness first aid and CPR.

Before jumping feet first into Merrohawke Nature School's growth and development, Kate spent 15 years working as an award-winning investigative journalist who wrote about the sea and the people who worked and played upon it. She is the former editor of Embassy Cruising Guides, a series of four bi-annual guides spanning the cruising waters from Canada to Alabama. She also has a BA in Journalism (minor in marine biology) from UNH (1995) and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College (1999). Her award-winning work appeared in Boston Magazine, Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, Cruising World, Commercial Fisheries News, National Fisherman, Offshore, Professional Mariner, Robb Report, Voyaging and others. She is the author of the nonfiction book Dead Men Tapping: The End of the Heather Lynne II, published by McGraw-Hill in 2003.

Rob and Kate met in first grade at Newbury's Woodbridge School, only to later become  high-school sweethearts at Triton Regional High School, where they first studied marine biology and oceanography together. Kate and Rob were married in 1996 and have two young sons, with whom they share their love for boats and the sea and adventures ashore. Rob and Kate have owned the F/V Erica Lee since April 2005.

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Deborah Lyons Program Director Debbie is a seasoned outdoor educator who teaches and coordinates a variety of programs at Merrohawke Nature School. Before joining our staff in May 2011, she earned an BS in Environmental Science from New England College. She was a seasonal park ranger for the US Army Corps of Engineers for three summers, at Hopkinton-Everett Lake in the Merrimack River Basin. After completing her MA in Environmental Education in May 2012, she became Merrohawke's Program Director. Debbie loves coming to work every day, but while she is not at work, she is foraging around Four Rock for her naturalists studies, snowboarding, or playing soccer. Debbie has completed Level III of Kamana Naturalist training and is now deep into Level IV. She is also certified as a Cedarsong Nature School Level III Forest Kindergarten Teacher, and has Wilderness First Responder and CPR certification. As part of her work at Merrohawke, Debbie has assisted other wilderness programs, including White Pine Programs, Coyote Camp and serving on the Ring 3 Acorn staff at the Art of Mentoring in Vermont.
Mr. Rob Yeomans Operations Director Capt. Rob has worked aboard the Erica Lee for 35 years, 24 of those as captain. He holds a 100-ton U.S. Coast Guard captain's license, and has decades of experience fishing for a variety of New England species in the Gulf of Maine.  In fall 2007, Rob and Kate formed Merrohawke Nature School in order to further pursue their passion for marine education by expanding nature-based education opportunities for all ages, tots to teachers, in the greater Newburyport area. Rob has been the owner/operator of the Erica Lee since 2005. Rob taught Biology, AP Biology and Marine Biology at Newburyport High School, from 2006-2015 where he served as chair of the science department from 2011-2014. He taught biology at Lynn Classical High School from 1996 to 2005.  He earned a BA Biology (1996) and a MA in Teaching Biology from Salem State (2000). During the summer of 2009, Rob also worked as a high school curriculum development consultant for a National Marine Fisheries education project on the Atlantic Sturgeon.

Rob was a 2009 recipient of the Swasey Grant for curriculum development at Newburyport High School. In November, he traveled to Monterey, California, to study humboldt squids. This trip included tagging the giant squids with Stanford University's Dr. William Gilly and his staff from the Hopkins Marine Station. Rob returned with squid to be dissected with his high school marine biology students, as well as great connections and ideas to bridge the east and west coast ecosystems for his students at N.H.S. and at Merrohawke.

In late fall, 2010, Rob received a second action research Swasey Grant to fund an trip to Tahiti in early January 2011 with Sea Education Association of Woods Hole's Colleagues SEA Semester for one week. While there, Rob sailed aboard the SSV Robert C. Seamans. During the 2011-2012 school year Rob was awarded his third Swasey Action Research grant to study wildlife tracking with the great folks at White Pine Programs in Cape Neddick, Maine.

In April 2012, in recognition of his life-long passion for educating kids about the outdoors and the sea, both in the formal classroom and outdoors aboard the Erica Lee, Salem State University honored Rob with a Friend of the Earth Award. Prior award recipients include "A Civil Action" attorney Jan Schlictman, Congressman John Tierney and Governor Jane Swift.  Rob is the first public school teacher to be honored with this award. 


Award Awarding Organization Year
-- -- --


Affiliation Year
-- --
Member of state association of nonprofits? Yes
Name of state association Mass. Nonprofit Network

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --


We regularly collaborate with Lowell's Boat Shop, local schools, Essex County Greenbelt Association, and many sister wilderness schools across New England.

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments


Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 5
Number of Part Time Staff 19
Number of Volunteers 16
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % 86%

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 25
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 22
Male: 3
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy --
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy --
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions


Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? No
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency No N/A
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually


Board Chair Mr. Thomas Murray
Board Chair Company Affiliation Community Volunteer
Board Chair Term Nov 2014 - Oct 2016
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Chris Boelke NOAA Voting
Preston Carey Yandex Voting
Michael Flynn Grossman Marketing Voting
Jennifer LeDuc Community Volunteer Voting
Sally Milliken No Affiliation Voting
Thomas Murray -- --
Vania O'Connor Community Volunteer Voting
Robb Osinski Community Volunteer Voting
David Ten Eyk Ocean Employee Benefits Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 0
Caucasian: 9
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 2
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 2
Board Term Limits 4
Board Meeting Attendance % 85%
Written Board Selection Criteria Under Development
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes

Standing Committees

  • Board Governance
  • Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
  • Finance

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments



Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2013 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2012 (%)

Fiscal Year Jan 01, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015
Projected Income $464,795.00
Projected Expense $458,078.00
Form 990s

2014 Form 990

2013 Form 990

2012 Form 990

2011 Form 990

Audit Documents

2014 Reviewed Financial Statement

2013 Reviewed Financial Statement

2012 Reviewed Financial Statement

2011 Reviewed Financial Statement

IRS Letter of Exemption

IRS Letter of Determination

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Revenue $421,421 $355,400 $316,366
Total Expenses $412,279 $359,993 $299,222

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $0 $0 $0
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified -- -- $0
Individual Contributions $94,044 $67,044 $90,638
Indirect Public Support -- -- $0
Earned Revenue $327,377 $288,356 $225,728
Investment Income, Net of Losses -- -- $0
Membership Dues -- -- $0
Special Events -- -- $0
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other -- -- $0

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Program Expense $361,877 $323,612 $261,035
Administration Expense $39,358 $30,626 $32,119
Fundraising Expense $11,044 $5,755 $6,068
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.02 0.99 1.06
Program Expense/Total Expenses 88% 90% 87%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 12% 9% 7%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Total Assets $21,273 $12,131 $18,220
Current Assets $18,594 $11,076 $13,577
Long-Term Liabilities $0 $0 $0
Current Liabilities $0 $0 $1,496
Total Net Assets $21,273 $12,131 $16,724

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
How many months does reserve cover? --

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? Anticipated In 3 Years
Capital Campaign Purpose Establish a permanent home on the Newburyport waterfront.
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities inf inf 9.08

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2014 2013 2012
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 0% 0% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments


Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in charts and graphs are per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.


Other Documents

No Other Documents currently available.


The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

We envision a world where all youth find their strength in nature, know how to tend the wild within, and live compassionately with the earth always in mind. In our community, we wish to increase the value local families place on taking time for nature in their lives for themselves and their children. This can be measured by the continued strong enrollment in our programs, parent participation in our growing adult programs, and overall emphasis in our community on environmental stewardship and healthy living. 

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

We have designed a suite of programs intended to serve youth from age 2 through their middle and early high school years. We hope in time to offer a high-school program that is nature-immersive, potentially a semester school. We are also building a tract of adult programs so that the youth who engage in our programs will be supported by like-minded families at home who know how to further their child's curiosity and engagement with the outdoors vs. outsource that experience to us and unintentionally stifle that love for nature at home. We wish to always be the lead resource for families learning to raise "wild" children, and to mentor families to do more and more outdoors on their own together.  It takes a village to raise healthy children connected to nature, and we are working to be the village hearth that consistently provides rich experiences for families as they grow.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

The co-founders have deep roots--more than 35 years each--in the community and they grew up on the water to become licensed boat captains. Their local knowledge and professional expertise in education provides the foundation for all programs. In addition, access to passenger vessels and strategic partnerships provides the unique resources to access the river and sea, as well as to offer unique programs ashore. Merrohawke is the only organization in the world, to our knowledge, offering nature connection programs that take place along the river and at sea based on indigenous methods of connecting youth to nature.

4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

As we grow, we've measured our success by participation in our programs, parent surveys and informal conversations with parents and youth. In time, we wish to develop a more formal evaluation process to track youth who participate in our programs and the impact we have on families in our community. We have balanced quantity of programs with quality of programs, striving to deepen and expand each over the founding years. As we look to the next five to 10 years, we wish to launch a high school program as the final piece of our founding vision.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Merrohawke has grown organically since its founding year in 2007 based on what parents have asked for their children. We have managed to grow from serving 150 students in 2008 to 1600+ in 2015. This rapid growth has been an incredible endorsement of the strength of our programs, but those programs are also very expensive to provide. We have worked hard over the past year to increase philanthropic support, with an even greater effort planned for 2016. We strive to balance providing high quality programs with high level praise and response from families with the high costs of running those programs, and this is a perpetual challenge. Boats are very expensive, and working to keep program fees affordable, increase our capacity to award scholarship assistance, and ensure all staff are paid fair wages for their unique work is a constant puzzle that we work on each day. Ultimately, we are committed to this work and will spare no effort to fulfill our mission to provide the very best nature connection programs that we can for youth in our community. We are talking about healthy kids and a healthy planet, and the urgency to do our part towards that great effort fuels our every day.