Sound Waves

Kim3 Help supply future mariners

November 20, 2012

Would you like to see your children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews develop a love for ships and the sea? Maybe learn how to sail? Help rebuild an antique marine diesel engine? Or possibly join the Sea Scouts and learn seamanship, navigation and how to work well with others?

Yes you say? There’s a way for you to help out and it won’t cost you a cent.

I’ve been attending a lot of meetings and conferences this year that focused on the topic of maritime history and experiential learning. So over the last few weeks I’ve arrived at an undeniable conclusion: Our current way of life, and the seamanship practices of our predecessors will soon be completely forgotten unless the money starts rolling in.

Our maritime skills, culture and history are important.

Don’t get me wrong. I think modern technology in the maritime industry is not only fascinating, but it’s also absolutely invaluable. Hell, if I were 10 years younger I’d be going to school to become a DP operator or a captain of Z-drive tugs, and not solely for the money. We have some seriously awesome tools to work with in this industry.

We are part of a rich and ever-changing maritime culture here in the U.S. There was a time when local economies and social life was dictated by the comings and goings of ships. Today, the majority of U.S. citizens barely know that ports and mariners exist until something pops up in the news (usually accidents and deaths). Modern consumers are completely disconnected from how they get their goods, yet the shipping business continues to be a necessity for our modern way of life. We need to remind people of the bigger picture, the importance of shipping, where it all started and where it’s going. Most importantly, we need to educate people that it’s a lucrative and exciting career for the younger generations to pursue.

But let’s get back to the money. I know that everyone needs it right now. Still, corporations make donations, be it for good PR or tax deductions or simply for good will toward others. A lot of them donate to organizations whose existence they may benefit from. This is simply good business. If your company helps support an organization that brings a love for all things maritime to youth ashore, many of these young people will eventually pursue jobs in the workboat industry.

It’s not you and me that should be donating money to our favorite maritime preservation organizations (though it wouldn’t hurt). But in order for these groups to survive and thrive, they have to be connected with money and the people that can find the money.

Find a program in your region that supports youth and families getting out on the water, and teaches them the basics of seamanship and navigation. Or maybe you have a favorite maritime museum. Next, email the people in charge of corporate charity donations and sing the praises of your preferred organization.

Whether you love them or not, each maritime company is like a family, and families work best when everyone is happy. Let them know that it’s important to you to see current and retired mariners valued for their skills and time in service, and that we can only create a culture of mariner appreciation by supporting our community’s efforts to preserve maritime history and teach seamanship to our youth.

Most Americans, especially our youth, don’t realize that the start of a regular workday could mean stepping into the wheelhouse of a giant ship in the middle of the ocean or a tug towing a barge.

I recently heard a mariner say that youth today are only interested in video games and Facebook. But many of today’s youth have brilliant, underused minds. They either don’t know what opportunities are out there, or haven’t had an inspiring hands-on experience to spark their interest. By supporting local groups that specialize in this will open up a whole new world to thousands of directionless young adults.

Expand/View Comments -  3 Comments
11/20/2012 18:26:28 Kim Carver says:

Robert & David, these sound like excellent opportunities. Robert is your offer still available? Where are you located? I might be able to help send some students your way.

11/20/2012 18:05:42 Robert Russo says:

I own a USCG Approved School and recently offered my school district free new hire training. Their response...not interested because it has nothing to do with coillege

11/20/2012 15:20:21 DAVID HELGERSON says:

I am on the Steering Committee of the Teaching With Small Boats Alliance. TWSBA represents and promotes the interests of approximately sixty organizations that provide hands-on experience with boats and boatbuilding on waterfronts around the United States and beyond. These organizations provide a range of opportunities and can serve as pathways to bigger opportunities. Volunteers, often from the maritime field, mentor students and can introduce them to career opportunities. You can learn more about TWSBA at Please support TWSBA and your local waterfront organization. Thanks. David A. Helgerson Technical Director CSC Advanced Marine Center Washington DC


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