Through reading a Portland Press Herald article entitled “Plenty of Shrimp, Few Buyers,” students in a high school business enterprise class learned about the challenges local shrimp harvesters face getting their product to market. After discussing ways they might help, the class embarked on a “Make Maine Shrimp Your Next Main Course” service-learning project.
Working with the shrimping community, the students spent a semester learning about how the industry operates. They went on field trips to the Portland Fish Exchange and a shrimp-processing plant, and spoke with local shrimp fishermen and restaurant managers. Through in-depth research of industry regulations and economics, students identified key challenges: lack of a predictable season and fluctuations in supply and price (making the product difficult for distributors).
Students decided that increasing local demand would help stabilize the market.
To foster consumer demand for Maine shrimp, students targeted local media, policymakers and community members. They created a public service announcement promoting shrimp and spoke to several local newspapers about problems facing the industry. They developed a unique shrimp bisque recipe using local shrimp and hosted a “Maine Shrimp Day” (in association with Hannaford Supermarkets), where they shared their knowledge, bisque, brochures and recipe cards with customers.
Their work was acknowledged in a column that Representative Tom Allen wrote after the Maine Shrimp Day. He noted how much the students learned “about shrimp fishing, processing and distribution, regulatory controls, global economics, retail merchandising, advertising and food preparation. Most impressive,” he added, “was their passion for their work and their pleasure in giving back to their community.”