POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — Students from Mason and Gallia counties, recently learned the value of a good career and hard work, at the RiverWorks Discovery event.
For the third year in a row, students have had the opportunity to come to Point Pleasant, W.Va. to learn more about what the river industry is all about, and hopefully make good connections for a promising career. The “Who Works the River” event, consisted of companies displaying booths and interacting with students about what they do, followed by a meal, then students were given a towboat tour, experienced deckhand training, and toured the Point Pleasant River Museum and Learning Center, to round out the event. The venue changed this year, being housed in the American Legion Post #23 due to the increase in participation.
When speaking with Jack Fowler, executive director of the river museum he explained: “This is a much better venue than in years past, we’re very thankful. Last year we had students split over two floors and it was very distracting for them, they seem much more focused this time.”
With 10 separate companies presenting, it can be difficult to keep more than 130 students focused in a small space. Students made their way around the room in small groups, visiting each company and learning about their role on the river. The companies present included AEP River Transportation Division, American Commercial Barge Line, Amherst Madison, Marathon Petroleum Company, Mount West Community and Technical College, Murray Transportation, Superior Marine, US Army Corps of Engineers, United States Coast Guard, and the US Coast Guard Auxiliary Group.
As Fowler stated, “We are just pleased that we’re able to participate with the river industry and the schools.”
Nowhere else will local students be exposed to so many companies ready for them to work, and make a promising career out of what they do.
When speaking with Butch Leport of AEP River Transportation, he said: “We like to put out there that we do work with the community and try to support the area, we try to be as local as possible.”
Leport discussed what a typical career path looks like with AEP on the river, explaining there is no training or education necessary to begin working on the river. A young person out of high school could begin work as a deckhand and in approximately six years be captaining a crew on the river with only on-the-job training.
“Captains with AEP start out making $110,000 dollars a year, there is real potential for a profitable and successful career with us” said Leport.
Another local company, Superior Marine was also present to help educate the youth about the river industry. Meagan Barnes, long time resident of Gallipolis, explained why they volunteered for RiverWorks Discovery.
“We are here to try and educate the kids about the river industry, and hopefully obtain qualified personnel,” she said.
Of the 10 present companies, seven are in the private sector and came seeking to improve the quality of available personnel and spread knowledge of their need for hard working and skilled employees. The other three, branches of the US Military, taught the students about the educational benefits of working for the U.S. Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers. The Coast Guard brought a patrol boat with them, allowing students to go on board and see first hand the equipment used. The Corps of Engineers had a submarine camera unit on display as well as radar equipment. Experts in their fields were able to interact with students and give a clear picture of what it looks like to work in the river industry in a variety of ways.
Students present were a mix from the Mason County Career Center and Buckeye Hills Career Center, introducing a wide range of youth to the possibilities of working on the river. Some students from Jackson and Vinton counties also attended as well.
(Editor’s note: The “Who Works the River” event is a cooperative effort between RiverWorks Discovery, the river museum and several local river industry employers. RiverWorks Discovery is a national outreach education effort of the National River Center and Hall of Fame located at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium.)
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 or firstname.lastname@example.org