Port Townsend’s Northwest Maritime Center (NWMC) is a celebration of maritime culture, dedicated to engaging people through powerful maritime experiences and supporting the maritime industry. Jefferson County is one of the strongest maritime anchors in the state, providing a crucial part of both local economy and culture.
First Fed has announced a one-million-dollar donation to NWMC to expand access to maritime education. The funding will be spread evenly across 10 years.
“The maritime industry is vital to our region. First Fed is dedicated to helping the Northwest Maritime Center achieve its goal of doubling program participants by 2025,” stated Matt Deines, president and CEO of First Fed. NWMC served 2,950 program participants in 2019 and plans to reach 6,000 annually by 2025.
The maritime industry is the third largest economic driver in Washington with jobs that pay on average $82,800 per year. In Jefferson County alone, the industry provides more than 2,300 jobs—one in every five—according to a 2018 economic impact study. However, the industry is experiencing workforce gaps due to retiring mariners. A workforce shortage of 150,000 mariners is projected by 2025, as the sector continues to grow an average of 6.4% a year.
Programs offered by the NWMC strive to help fill that gap with hands-on and project-based learning centered on the environment, marine science, and maritime careers. A major focus is youth programs so students have multiple exposures to maritime culture and potential career paths in the industry.
In Jefferson County, the NWMC provides week-long immersive Maritime Discovery programs to every student in the seventh grade. Students study science through weather and local wildlife; mathematics through nautical chart use and plotting courses; engineering through boat building; social studies through mapping and historical research; language arts through maritime nomenclature and poetry; and art through illustrations of indigenous species. Hands-on activities like the USCG Damage Control Simulator challenge students to find ways to manage flooding scenarios and learn how to use a de-watering pump.
Students interested in continuing maritime studies can apply to the Port Townsend Maritime Academy which offers year-long maritime curriculum taught by professional mariners and educators. According to Beattie, over 30% of students who attended Port Townsend Maritime Academy went on to either direct employment in the maritime industry or further maritime studies.
The Port Townsend Maritime Academy was one of the inspirations for the Maritime High School in the Highline School District. The Maritime High School will have its first graduating class in 2022. Participation in programs like these will drive interest in maritime careers and promote industry sustainability.
“At our core, the Maritime Center is about connecting people to powerful opportunities on the water, whether they be for recreation, personal growth, or employment,” explained Jake Beattie, Executive Director for NWMC. “We also have an intentional focus on diversity in our programs to authentically represent the Pacific Northwest communities we serve."
Although students are a large focus, the NWMC supports a range of community events like She Tells Sea Tales that celebrates women in the maritime industry. They are also well known for the Wooden Boat Festival, the flagship event which inspired the Wooden Boat Foundation to be founded in 1978, later becoming the Northwest Maritime Center.
“Northwest Maritime Center appreciates the significant support from First Fed, our local community bank on the peninsula,” shared Beattie. “Over the years, First Fed has demonstrated their commitment to maritime culture through sponsorships, volunteerism, and participation at our community events.”
“We love having the Northwest Maritime Center here in Port Townsend,” said Luxmi Love, First Fed Branch Manager in Port Townsend. “Their programs and events bring a lot of value and inspiration to our community. Our team loves to volunteer and support their efforts.”
The Northwest Maritime Center offers a range of maritime classes where people of virtually any age or experience level can find a program to enjoy. Sign up for their newsletters or learn more about the NWMC programs and events at their website at nwmaritime.org.