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All Hands on Deck

Building a future marine and ­maritime workforce

Finding a boat to steal your heart has always been easy in Chesapeake Country. Finding a new generation to build, run and repair those watercraft — and to master the science of water — that’s harder.
    “People started to ask, Who’s going to do this work? Where’s our work force for these jobs?” says Pam Ray, chair of the Eastport Yacht Club Foundation.
    Enter the Marine and Maritime Career Fair for middle and high schoolers and their parents.
    “This fair is the answer,” says Ray, whose organization is a sponsor of the event. “We want to show students all the varied and successful opportunities they can have. Especially around the Bay, you can make such a good living from them.”
    Co-sponsors are Anne Arundel County Public Schools and the ­National Sailing Hall of Fame.
    This year’s sixth annual fair focuses on three career areas: marine trades, maritime shipping and marine sciences.
    Exhibitors range from universities — including the U.S. Naval Academy — to NOAA, the U.S. Merchant Marines and the Coast Guard, environmental and governmental organizations, the Maritime Trade Association of Maryland, marinas and boat builders. All are looking to recruit tomorrow’s science and industry leaders.
    Experts are on hand, too.
    “This is a time for the kids to meet professionals and learn how they got into their careers,” Ray says.
    A college degree opens the door to some of these careers. For others, technical training, internships and apprenticeships are the points of entry.
    “There are so many different levels of training and education involved in these careers,” Ray says. “We want to get students on the pathway necessary for them to get those careers. There are fields out there they may not have ever considered.”
    To get the most out of the fair, Ray advises, “come in and move around and talk to as many exhibitors as you possibly can. Talk to those you think you don’t have an interest in, try the hands-on activities, ask questions and get contacts for followup.”
    Sat., Feb. 27, noon-3pm, Annapolis High School. Pre-register to be eligible to win two grand prizes of stand-up paddleboards, plus other door prizes. Free, rsvp: bit.ly/1KSEceZ.