Biocitizen welcomes Owen Heil, Maine Sea Kayaking Guide and Teacher!!

Share This Post

Biocitizen is pleased to welcome Owen Heil as our Maine Sea Kayaking Guide and Teacher!!

He’ll be co-leading Claws: Casco Bay from Saturday July 11 to Thursday July 16!

But that’s not all!

Owen is an ocean gardener who tends the aquafields of Freeport’s Spartan Sea Farms, raising and harvesting culinary oysters, scallops and kelp.

Part of our Field Environmental Philosophy experience involves learning about how she and her Casco Bay friends make a living this way. An opportunity to open imaginations to destinies that are possible—

Of course the goal of Claws is to bring students to their physical, mental and cognitive edges and keep them there, because that’s where positive growth occurs. Claws teachers help students become comfortable and relaxed as they test themselves and push their boundaries. Self-confidence and character -building, Claws invites students to think outside, and there observe larger patterns. “We fancy industry sustains us, forgetting what sustains industry” wrote Leopold.

Jes knows the people, the creatures, the waters and the islands—she’ll guide us deep into the wild parts of the bay. That’s why we’re doing this.

The wild is a place to grow.

Claws brings us there.

> Other credentials:

L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Program Sea Kayaking Instructor and Guide

Safety Care Certified Behavioral management and crisis prevention

Leave No Trace Trainer

Wilderness First Aid Certified

First AID/CPR/AED Certified Adults, children, and infants

Boy Scouts of America Certified Trek Leader 

Boy Scouts of America Merit Badge Counselor & Trained Adult Leader

Why Jes wants to guide Claws: Casco Bay:

“Are you okay,” my boss asked, “I haven’t heard you say anything in a while.” 

“I’ve never felt more alive in my whole life.”

I went from 0 to 60 (76 actually, more on that later) on sea kayaking. Three years ago, I was hired to plan, equip, and lead week-long, 50+ mile backcountry trips for a local Boy Scout Council.

The trips ranged from canoeing to backpacking to Tall Ship sailing to sea kayaking. In my interview, I freely admitted that I’d only been sea kayaking once before and that, while I felt very qualified to lead the other trips, I’d want to have someone else lead the kayak trek. Luckily, my boss was a highly experienced sea kayaking guide who agreed to not only lead that trek but to have me attend as a skill-building experience.

Two days into that trek, paddling in the open ocean between Portland Head Light and Jewell Island, we encountered brilliant sun, a light breeze, and large swells. The challenge of using the swells to maintain our momentum, the cries of the sea birds, the vast expanse of water on all sides was exhilarating. In five days, our scouts pushed themselves to accomplish the 76 mile itinerary that they chose. I’d never felt more alive in my whole life. I was hooked.

Three years later (and with hundreds of paddling miles under my belt), I am a Registered Maine Sea Kayaking Guide. I primarily guide for LL Bean’s Outdoor Discovery Program but also guide for scout programs and other private groups.

I live to be on the water. Last summer, after nine years of working in special education, I started a new job in addition to guiding: aquaculture. A partner on one venture and the owner of my own farm, I grow oysters, scallops, and kelp in the cold, turbid waters of Casco Bay.

I am incredibly excited to be guiding this expedition for Biocitizen. Outdoor education instills a vital sense of place (and one’s place in the world) that students just can’t get in a traditional classroom setting. As a sociologist, I strongly believe that experiencing a place both ecologically and culturally builds deep, lasting understandings of–and an abiding connection to–the physical and social structures of that place.

In order to become thoughtful citizens of the world, youth must be empowered to engage firsthand with their world.

And what better way to engage with it than from the cockpit of a kayak?


More To Explore