UUFE’s Michele Drostin answers the Five Big Questions and tells about living on the water, schooling on the water, working on the water, moving back to the water. And the day Eve sailed the waters and came into the world.
UU liFE: Where were you raised, and how?
Michele: I was born in Chicago where my family had lived for several generations after moving to the US from Poland. I was raised Catholic. However, my father was not a church-goer, and my mother only went in order to take us. I attended the local Catholic school through 5th grade. After that, my family moved onto a sailboat. We traveled from Chicago, through Canada and out to the Atlantic Ocean in New York. We spent most of our two and a half years on the boat either in Florida or the Bahamas. After that, we settled in Fort Lauderdale.
How did your parents manage your schooling while under way?
I used the Calvert School of Maryland program for 6 and 7 grade. My sister used a high school program out of the University of Nebraska.
Can you say more about the family boat? A lot of our UUFE friends can relate to LOA and LWL or whatever.
The boat was a Transpac 49. It was a ketch, built in Taiwan and then the engine, masts, rigging, etc was installed in California. I remember taking a trip to California to see the boat. Once it was completed, they trucked it to Chicago.
How have you made your living?
Two things I have always loved is to teach environmental education and to work on the water (wetlands, streams, rivers and the ocean). I have been able to do one or both throughout my career. I’ve been a naturalist, a sailing instructor, a watershed outreach coordinator, the manager of coastal reserves on the Outer Banks, a watershed restoration planner and an educator. At my last position, I worked for the University of North Carolina Institute for the Environment. I worked closely with research faculty, translating their latest findings into workshops, lesson plans and online material. I also worked closely with college students to connect them with research opportunities and help them prepare for graduate school.
What’s the most remarkable thing you’ve done?
I didn’t do much but watch and be supportive, but I will always remember the moment Eve came into this world and how she held my finger as the midwife cleaned her up and weighed her.
What’s the Next Big Thing for you?
Moving here was a pretty big thing. We loved Chapel Hill and our jobs, but I wanted to get closer to the water so I could start sailing again. I am in the middle of writing a book about my adventures living on the sailboat. I am writing it as a middle-grade novel, drawing on my own experiences but also adding some exciting plot twists. A group of us just started the Eastern Shore PAC for Social and Economic Justice. I have never been political before and this is turning out to be an exciting time.
And maybe try out as a full-time waterman?
A big thing I have been doing for a year is crewing on the Skipjack Nathan of Dorchester in Cambridge.
Do you own a boat now?
I do not own a boat now. I know how much work it is having a boat and I’m waiting until we settle down.
How do you serve UUFE and why?
I am currently on the RE committee and we just became members. Right now it is important to me to be a part of RE because of my daughter. I also find that the RE committee is able to draw families into many of the UUFE activities.