Pat Shepard

Deer Isle-Stonington High School, 2006
University of Rhode Island, 2010
Current town: Surry

“Follow what you’re passionate about. Don’t get caught up trying to follow the money. Find something you like to do and follow that. And if you do it well, you’ll probably find the money too.”

After going to college out of state, Pat followed his passion back to Hancock County, to be near the people and places he loves. Pat always wanted to give back and contribute to his community and now dedicates his career to the protection of Maine fisheries. He’s proud to have made it back to Maine and found success at a young age. He and his wife are raising their five-year-old daughter here and enjoy seeing her get to know the same spots they loved growing up.

Tell us about your current role: how long have you been there, what parts of it do you like most, and why do you do what you do?
I’ve been with Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries for eight years, and am currently the Collaborative Research Specialist. I first came on board to run the new entrants program, doing business planning with local fishermen to help them diversify into scallops, ground fish, and halibut as well as lobster. The position evolved over time to lead collaborative research, and I now also manage Discovery Wharf, our public education space, as Creative Director. We’ve built interactive exhibits including a touch tank and virtual reality experiences to teach visitors about eastern Maine’s fisheries. As someone who grew up in a small fishing community, I want to preserve the values and skills I learned growing up for the future through public education. I’ve been trying to convince my brother, a lobster fisherman out of Stonington since we were kids, to diversify. Just this spring I got him out halibut fishing for the first time and we came back with a 52” 70 lb. halibut, pulled in by hand! To see him branch out successfully and actually enjoy it was really rewarding and gives me hope for the sustainability of fishing communities.

How are you having an impact on your community, through leadership roles or otherwise?
I’ve been the Chair of the Island Education Foundation since March 2017. Established in 1994, the Foundation provides grants to local educational and nonprofit organizations to develop educational opportunities for Deer Isle and Stonington residents. It’s a lot of fun: the best possible Board of Directors to be on. We get to give money to kids who want to do cool things—doesn’t get much better than that! We’ve funded the fab lab at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, and the “Legoland Project,” a collection of Legos to encourage local kids to get creative. If money is what’s getting in the way of a kid’s learning experience, it’s cool to be a part of eliminating that barrier, and it has been incredibly rewarding to hear back from the kids.