John Dietter will be the inaugural executive director of the Hurricane Island Foundation.

The Hurricane Island Foundation (HIF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating and preserving an open, sustainable island community that supports and enhances the educational opportunities of Maine youth and beyond. In September, the foundation announced the creation of the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership, which will open in 2011.

“John has a wealth of experience as an educator, particularly in the sciences,” said HIF Board Chairman Ben Willauer in a press release. “His background innovating placed-based learning practices on the coast of Maine, in which students and faculty alike can reinforce theoretical concepts with real-world experience, is ideally suited to the mission of the Hurricane Island Foundation.”

Dietter, a graduate of Reed College and Antioch University, is currently the science teacher at North Haven Community School on North Haven; the smallest K-12 public school in Maine. Among other projects, his students successfully converted a Volkswagen van into an electric vehicle and successfully competed with it in the Tour de Sol and the 21st Century Automotive Challenge alternative-fueled vehicle competitions. Students also designed and built the solar array that fuels the vehicle, making it a true zero-emission vehicle.

“I have dedicated my professional career to creating and implementing innovative programs that inspire students to study science, to act as stewards of their local environment, and to be leaders within their local communities.” Dietter said in a press release. “I’m excited to continue this work on a larger and more impactful scale.”

In December 2009, HIF secured a 40-year lease on Hurricane Island, less than a mile from Vinalhaven in Penobscot Bay. Over the past year, HIF has developed a long-term plan for restoring the buildings on the island and launching its core program, the Hurricane Island Center for Science and Leadership.

HICSL will match an accredited math and science curriculum within a culture of leadership development for high school students and provide resources and continuing education opportunities for teachers. The Hurricane Island Foundation is working to create the ideal nexus for fisheries research, environmental science, and sustainability education.