While you may be aware that "necessity is the mother of invention," did you know that filial concern is the daughter of invention?
Campobello Island's 16-year-old Rylee Foster turned her concern for the well‑being of her great‑grandfather, grandfather and uncles, all of whom are professional fishers, and her father, who is a recreational hunter, into an award-winning and ingenious invention that could save their lives. Planet Hatch of Fredericton sponsored the contest that attracted approximately a thousand high school students from across New Brunswick. Students were challenged to invent a technical device that would make the world a better place. Three $5,000 awards were presented, one of which was to Rylee, a Campobello Island Consolidated School Grade 10 high honors student.
"Not only my family but most of my neighbors are fishers. They risk their lives every time they head out to sea to satisfy the worldwide market for lobster and seafood," explains Rylee. "According to my research with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)," she continues, "there are 38 million commercial fishers in the world and an average of 78 accidental deaths per year in Canada alone. Most fishing boats have GPS tracking devices, but if the boat sinks or a fisher falls overboard, it is often difficult to find the endangered people. If individual fishers also had GPS tracking devices, they could be found even if they drift far from the boat." Although Rylee was particularly focusing on commercial fishers, she points out that hunters, hikers, surfers, mountain climbers, divers, skiers and many other commercial and recreational activities would benefit from individual tracking devices.
Rylee interviewed several Campobello Island fishers who said they would utilize the protective device if it were small, waterproof, lightweight, secure and could attach to their wrists, ankle or pants and did not hinder their ability to work. Rylee's device will meet all these requirements.
Although Rylee may utilize her $5,000 award in any manner she chooses, she has decided to use most of the money to facilitate the production of her rescue device. Planet Hatch will provide her with two scientific specialists as mentors to assist in the production process. In addition, the three contest winners are invited to attend a summer entrepreneurial camp to further assist them in the process of bringing worthy inventions from idea, through production and marketing, to customers.
Rylee, a shy and modest young woman, credits three of her teachers with helping her overcome her reluctance to enter her idea in the contest. "Ms. Searles, my math teacher, Ms. Lee, my science teacher, and Mr. Conley, my shop teacher, all encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and submit my invention. I was uncertain it was worthy of submission, and they convinced me it was." Once she made the first cut last January, her teachers helped her to prepare her pitch to the judges on May 16.
Her parents, Justin and Amber Foster, were both thrilled with the outcome. "We are so proud of her," they admit. "When she first came up with the idea we had no idea she had been thinking of it for so long. She could not believe the boats could be found but if any fishers went overboard there were no tracking devices to find them."
Rylee's younger sisters, 9-year-old Ramsey and 11-year-old Kamden, are hoping that once the product is on the market it will make Rylee a millionaire, "because she's promised to bring us to Disney World if she ever becomes rich." It is safe to say that, rich or not, Rylee Foster is a superlative representative of this small Campobello Island community and its high school that, although one of the smallest in New Brunswick, is clearly one of the best.