About Us

Contact Program Director Bill Foster  -  Email floatingclassroom@gmail.com  -  Phone 607-216-2238

Our Mission

The Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom provides experiential learning opportunities that promote academic achievement, environmental literacy, and lifelong relationships with the waterways that define our communities.  We hope to engage individuals and empower communities throughout the Finger Lakes. 


Since Captain Dennis Montgomery brought the MV Haendel to the lake in 2003, the Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom has provided hands-on learning opportunities in the interest of sustaining our Finger Lakes waterways for future generations.  We offer "eco-cruises' on Cayuga Lake (May-October), "Trout in the Classroom" (October - May) and a variety of stream-based field trips.  We owe our existence to a broad community of supporters: 

Our parent not-for-profit, the Center for Transformative Action.
Our volunteer Advisory Board (scroll down) who make the organization what it is.

Please consider getting involved or making a financial contribution to support our work.  Thanks for your interest!

Our Crew

Bill Foster, Program Director


Bill grew up in Ithaca and earned a BS in Environmental Engineering, Cornell '87. After 16 years pursuing in water resource management with the US EPA and several not-for-profits, he is now focused on community-driven environmental education. 

Captain Paul Flagg

Capt. Flagg holds a US Coast Guard 100 Ton Licensed Masters license and has extensive boating experience on Cayuga Lake.  He is a member of the US Power Squadron (USPS), a boating safety and education organization, has taught every USPS Course from Basic Boating through Celestial Navigation, and is a USPS Certified Coastal Navigator.

  Captain Woody McKenzie

Capt. McKenzie joined us in 2016, and holds a US Coast Guard 100 Ton Licensed Masters license.

Caroline Hoover, Instructor             

Caroline joined the Floating Classroom in 2006, after a career in public education, specializing in science education.  She is enjoying her present incarnation as outdoor educator, eye-opener, musical and yoga instructor.  

Mariah Mahaney, Lead Instructor

Mariah joined us in 2016, with a BS in Environmental Science from Iowa State, and a passion for education and whitewater kayaking.  As lead instructor, she is also our intern program manager! 

Ben Jackson, Instructor

 Ben began an internship with the Floating Classroom in 2015, and has joined our instructional crew in 2016.  He is currently a student at Ithaca College.


Lizzy Freilich, Senior Intern

Lizzy contributed to every part of our program and happiness during 2016, and we hope she sticks around for awhile.  She is pursuing a BS in Biology at Ithaca College, class of 2018.

Jill Blanchard, Senior Intern

The Floating Classroom benefitted from Jill's presence throughout the spring and summer of 2016.  She  moves on to pursue her post-graduate education at SUNY Env. Sci & Forestry in Syracuse.  Good Luck, Jill!

Franny Lux, High School Intern

Franny is going into 9th grade at Lehman Alternative Community School.   This is her second year working with the Floating Classroom as a summer intern.  She is also active with our Trout in the Classroom program during the school year. 


 Oliver Sugarman, Intern

Oliver is a high school student who has been aboard the floating classroom for a total of two years.  He hopes to continue studying some form of environmental science after he is finished with high school.

 Ailin Dolson-Fazio, Intern

 Lamar Johnson, Intern

Lamar is a sophomore at Trumansburg High School.  In his free time, he enjoys hunting, fishing and riding dirt bikes.


Phil Koons, Volunteer

Our Alumni

Captain Dennis Montgomery In Memoriam (1950-2014) 

Capt. Montgomery was the owner of the MV Haendel and proprietor of Tiohero Tours, LLC (now Ithaca Boat Tours). His vision was to inspire residents and visitors, alike, by providing tours that blend human history with the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes.

Learn more

Captain David Openshaw  

Master Capt. Openshaw piloted the MV Haendel from 2006-2015. He brings extensive knowledge of Cayuga Lake and marine navigation, along with a background in physical sciences. Dave also volunteers as a paramedic and the assistant chief of a local fire department.

Sophia D'Addario, Instructor

Sophia served our crew from 2013-2015 with a strong background in field work and marine biology. She holds an BS in Environmental Studies. A self-described outdoor adventure enthusiast, Sophia is PADI SCUBA certified, and she has participated in research projects ranging from the Andes to the Amazon and north to the Gulf of Maine. 


 Katie Sweeney, 2013-2015

Jordan Stark, Intern 2009-2011

Anna Kucher, Intern 2011, 2012


 Sarah Heath, Intern 2011, 2012


 Alex Clark, Intern 2011, 2012

 Lindsay Glasner, Lead Intern 2014

 Micah Harp      Leann Greene  Marina Howarth  
 Pheobe Larkin  Ryan Besemer  Breanna Forrest  
 2017 Crew
   Alexandra Moravek, Intern   
Lexi is a new intern this summer and she enjoys working on the boat in the sunshine doing lake profiling and working with passengers. This new experience has opened her eyes to environmental science as well as her interest in invasive species.

 Chloe Faehndrich, Intern

Chloe is a student at Ithaca High School who has been interning with the Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom. She has thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the lake as well as educating the public about it. She plans to go to college for marine science and she thinks this internship has helped her prepare for that.

 Claire Vallely, Intern

Claire is an upcoming sophmore at Charles O. Dickerson High School. She enjoys soccer, basketball, and softball, as well as math and science. She is also on the school robotics team, which is partially why she was interested in the Floating Classroom.
 David Froehlich, Intern

David is a new high school intern. He is starting 10th grade at LACS. He has an interest in science and working with kids. He enjoys drawing and painting, and loves going out on the lake.

 Franny Lux, Intern

This is Franny's third summer as a Floating Classroom intern. She has also been involved with the Trout-in-Classroom program. She is in 10th grade at LACS and hopes to pursue environmental studies or biology in the future.

 Ryan Ciccolini, Intern

Ryan is an up coming sophomore at Charles  O. Dickerson High School and has an interest in biology, education, and music. He plays soccer and run indoor and outdoor track. He thinks the lake is a very important feature and is something that brings all of the surrounding communities together.  Ryan is glad to be a part in maintaining that.
 Francesca Merrick, Intern

This is Francesca’s second summer with the Floating Classroom, her first being as a high school intern in 2012. She has also been involved with the Floating Classroom’s "Trout in the Classroom" program. Francesca is currently a sophomore at Columbia University pursuing a B.A in Sustainable Development and Political Science/History.

 Chase Lurgio, Intern    

 Lee Yoke Lee, Asst. Program Manager

Lee began volunteering with the Floating Classroom in October 2016 and came on board as staff member in June 2017. She has a background in adolescent reproductive health, HIV/AIDS awareness outreach, as well as community-based and collaborative management of marine resources in Southeast Asia. She is currently pursuing a certification in Environmental Education with the North Carolina DEC.

Cayuga Lake Floating Classroom Advisory Board

Chair:  Marian Brown (Wells College)
Vice-Chair: Colleen McLinn (Cornell University)
Secretary: Jeff Werner (SUNY Cortland)

Board Members
Carroll Cook (Museum Professional)
Jeremy Dietrich (Ichthyology Associates)
Jeff Furst (Independent Business Advisor)
Lynn Leopold (Inter-Municipal Organization Liaison)
Thomas Vawter (Wells College, Emeritus)
Marissa Zuckerman (Paleontological Research Institution and Museum of the Earth)

We are looking for new board members. Find out more about joining our board.
Bill Foster,
Mar 7, 2017, 10:41 AM