Spike Lobdell of NESS is 2016 winner of the National Recreation Foundation Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize

Stonington — Spike Lobdell, founder and president of New England Science & Sailing Foundation, will receive the National Recreation Foundation's 2016 Robert W. Crawford Achievement Prize in recognition of his service to the youth of New England.

The award will be presented Nov. 5 in San Antonio, Texas.

Lobdell founded NESS in 2004, and since 2008, has been the president and chief executive officer. For more than 12 years, he has worked to develop NESS into one of the most successful community sailing programs in the country. As a youth, he was encouraged to sail by his father, who was an avid sailor.

In a release announcing Lobdell as the award recipient, the National Recreation Foundation said, "Today, Spike is dedicated to building a community of talented next generation sailors and providing access to the water for all students regardless of their abilities or financial means. Spike is a full-time volunteer and has never received a dollar of compensation for his efforts."

NESS is a nonprofit ocean adventure education organization that links a STEM-based education with water-based activities. It engages students in experiential learning that builds confidence, teamwork and leadership skills through sailing, marine science and adventure sports.

"The core values of inclusiveness, experimental learning, self-discovery, and stewardship remain Spike's passion in leading NESS today," said the release.

NESS is a year-round educational organization that served close to 5,000 students last year. More than half (about 56 percent or 2,800 children) who participate are from low-income communities and receive scholarships or other financial aid that enables them to participate, said the release.

 Last year, NESS provided more than $430,000 in financial assistance and since 2008 more than $1.4 million. 

NESS started in a former lobster processing facility in Stonington borough and has expanded to seven locations across southeastern New England. Today, it partners with more than 100 different schools and organizations that support STEM initiatives (science, technology, engineering, and math) and send their students to NESS's on-the-water classrooms, many of which are classrooms without walls.

Lobdell, former chief executive officer of XL Capital's non-insurance operations, worked at JP Morgan for 27 years in various senior management capacities. He is a founding member and past commodore of the Stonington Harbor Yacht Club.

The National Recreation Foundation was founded in 1965 and is dedicated to enhancing the role of recreation as a positive force in improving the quality of life of youth. The foundation invests in recreation programs directed at those who are economically, physically or mentally disadvantaged. Based in Lake Forest, Illinois, the foundation has awarded more than $18 million in grants over the past 10 years. 


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