Seattle Maritime Academy connects youth with high-paying careers

Enter the job market with skills, knowledge, & confidence.

Seattle Maritime Academy, a Seattle Central College program, is located at 4455 Shilshole Ave NW in Ballard‘s West Woodland neighborhood!

Seattle Maritime Academy - Ballard - West Woodland

Photo courtesy Seattle Maritime Academy

Sarah Scherer, Director of the Seattle Maritime Academy, gestured out of the classroom window at the Ballard Bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Canal. “How many people drive across this bridge every single day and don’t know that 80 percent of the Alaska fishing fleet is docked right there at Fisherman’s Terminal?”

She was speaking to a growing problem in one of Washington’s largest (and highest-paying) industries: many maritime industry workers are nearing retirement, and there is a shortage of labor to replace them.

The average age of the maritime workforce was over 54 years old in 2013, according to the Washington Maritime Federation. The aging workforce is presenting an issue across trade industries, and Washington’s maritime industry is no exception. This “silver tsunami” of retiring workers is troubling news for the state, as the maritime sector generates $37.8 billion in combined direct and indirect revenue annually.

This is where the Seattle Maritime Academy (SMA) comes in. SMA, a school within Seattle Central College, prepares roughly 32-36 students every year for a career in maritime, and it seeks to create pipelines into this high-paying industry for younger students as well.

Maritime Excursion

Maritime students go underway for the last time after their final for a cruise around the Sound. Photo courtesy Seattle Maritime Academy.

Scherer was passionate about SMA’s potential to strengthen the region’s middle class, even describing trade education as “the answer to generational poverty.” At SMA, students can get their Coast Guard certification and be on the road to a lucrative career in less than a year.

Since maritime sector jobs are regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard, SMA gives graduates an edge in entering this growing industry. Students take a nine month, hands-on program at SMA’s newly renovated facilities, preparing them for a career in either marine engineering or marine deck technology. Students then complete a 60 or 90-day internship, depending on their program, and leave SMA with their U.S. Coast Guard certification for a position on a vessel. These positions earn $45-75 thousand annually for starting salaries, usually working for about six months out of the year.

Scherer said one factor causing the shortage of young workers is lack of awareness about the profession. Maritime jobs used to be passed along through families, but this has become significantly less common, particularly as students have encountered increasing pressure in their K-12 education to pursue higher education after high school.

Lack of awareness is doubly an issue for people of color and women, who are severely underrepresented in the northwest’s maritime industry.

“We’ve told all these kids over and over and over again, ‘You have to go to college, you have to get a bachelor’s degree to be successful,’” said Scherer. “And it’s not true. There are many jobs where people don’t need to get a bachelor’s degree just in the maritime industry, let alone all the other trades, that people can make not just a good living, but a fantastic living wage job that has upward mobility.”

This is part of what makes the Youth Maritime Collaborative so important, according to program coordinator Marsha Dickgieser. The Youth Maritime Collaborative, a collection of public and private agencies including the Port of Seattle and Seattle Goodwill, seeks to “get the wheels turning” in students’ heads about careers in maritime.

This is done through hands-on learning at special events where employers showcase the kinds of careers students could pursue, as well as through “lunch and learn” visits to local schools. The Youth Maritime Collaborative is hoping to partner with Seattle’s Office of Economic Development to connect more high school students to internships with local businesses.

“When we go do some of these high school programs, and we ask, ‘How did this change your opinion of the maritime industry?’ a frequent answer is, ‘I didn’t know it existed, and now I know it’s an option,’” said Scherer. She stressed the importance of reaching students of color, particularly those from immigrant communities: “That’s part of what we’re focusing on in these high school programs, is getting them to understand that [maritime is] an option.”

While Scherer and Dickgieser are passionate about maritime as an option for young people, they were the first to admit that a career at sea isn’t for everyone. “The industry is not for the faint of heart,” Scherer explained, citing months spent away from friends and family, nonexistent cell service and hard work.

The women will also be the first to sing the praises of being a mariner, however. “The stuff you get to see—I mean, I’ve been all over the world,” said Scherer. “I’ve gotten to see things most people only get to dream about. Countless sunsets and sunrises, and the beauty of being humbled by realizing how small you are.”

Dickgieser added, “You learn a lot about yourself, and you create this comradery…the friendships and the weird little family you build while you’re away, you can’t really get that anywhere else.”

Even if young people aren’t interested in leaving dry land, there are still “lots of opportunities” in maritime, said Scherer. “You want to be an engineer, but you don’t want to go to sea? Go to Skagit Valley Community College and get a marine technician degree, which is working on engines and hydraulics and auxiliary systems on land.”

Maritime jobs are difficult, but if young people can handle the tradeoffs—months spent at sea working hard, but months spent on land enjoying their high salary—and if “they have a sense of adventure, there’s a great job waiting for them.”

Reprint from the Seattle Office of Economic Development,  by 


Seattle Parks and Recreation begins construction of Gemenskap Park

Gemenskap-Park-Concept-Image-1Portion of 14th Ave. NW provides new open space for Ballard

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) is moving into the construction phase on Gemenskap Park, new park located in Ballard. SPR awarded the construction contract for Gemenskap Park to Jansen, Inc. and work is planned to begin January 8, 2018. Construction will require a three month detour route on 14th Ave. NW between 58th and 60th streets. We anticipate completion of the park in late spring 2018.

This park will provide open space for the Ballard neighborhood by converting two full blocks of 14th Ave. NW between NW 59th and NW 61st streets to a new park space. The park will replace the gravel parking median and portions of the existing concrete roadway. The project includes green infrastructure and incorporates safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

The Parks and Green Spaces Levy Acquisition Fund provided $24 million for the acquisition of neighborhood parks in up to 20 identified areas throughout the City. The Ballard Residential Urban Village was included in that list and the community prioritized this development project in lieu of acquiring additional property.

For additional information and to stay up to date on construction, please visit or contact Toby Ressler at

Reprint from Seattle Parks & Recreation,  by 


“Before” photos, dated 01/04/2018, by West Woodland, Ballard Blog

Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.28.07Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.26.53Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.26.46Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.26.12Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.26.37Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.24.39Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.25.01Gemenskap Park - Ballard - West Woodland 2018-01-04 11.24.26

West Woodland Elementary School Tour Announced


For parents interested in enrolling their child at West Woodland Elementary School, take note!

This school tour will include an introduction to West Woodland School by the Principal, a PTA Presentation, and an opportunity to meet the Kindergarten teachers.

There will also be a school building and kindergarten classroom tour. The tour will end with a Q&A Session with the Principal.

Date: Thursday, January 18, 2018
Time: 6:00 – 7:30pm
Location: West Woodland Elementary School, 5601 4th Avenue NW, (meet in the cafeteria)
RSVP Required:

Please note that no childcare is available for the tour and this will be the only tour date for this year. Seattle Public Schools is unable to accommodate requests for private tours. For more information about attendance areas and open enrollment please check the district website.

Your reservation ensures:

1. You get a school packet with valuable information.
2. You are added to the mailing list for upcoming events.
3. They know the grade level of your incoming child(ren).

Stuff The Truck & Help Ballard Performing Arts

Goodwill - Ballard HS - Stuff the truck

Stuff The Truck & Help Ballard Performing Arts Earn $500.

Drop off your gently used items & Ballard Performing Arts will receive a generous donation of at least $500 from Seattle Goodwill. Volunteers will accept small furniture (no large furniture please), electronics, used cell phones, clothes, shoes, toys, kitchen items, etc.

Date: Sunday, January 14, 2018
Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm (updated, 01/07/2018)
Location: Ballard High School parking lot, 1418 NW 65th Street.

Celebrate Neighbor Day on February 10

Seattle - Neighbor Day - Ballard - West Woodland

Join us for Seattle’s 24th Annual Neighbor Day on February 10 and help us kick off 2018 with a celebration of kindness and community!

With all the change, upheaval, and stress in our world right now, we could all use a chance to reconnect with our neighbors, friends, and communities through small acts of generosity.  Our Neighbor Day celebration provides the perfect opportunity to do just that!

Neighbor Day is a special day set aside to reach out to neighbors, make new friends, and express thanks to those who help make your neighborhood and community a great place to live. We encourage all Seattle residents to celebrate this day by indulging in random acts of kindness. Residents, businesses, or community groups are all invited to participate however they like. The main goal is simply to reach out and connect with your neighbors through generosity.

Neighbor Day will take place on Saturday, February 10, 2018.

We have made it as easy as possible for you to participate! Below is a list of ideas and resources that can help you plan your Neighbor Day event or activity:

  • Do something nice for a neighbor: take them to coffee, clean up their yard, bake them some cookies, invite them for a walk.
  • Organize a neighborhood potluck, open house, or work party. It can be as big or simple as you want.
  • Need more ideas? We have an extensive list to help you.
  • Want to know how your local business or community group can participate? Here are some ideas!
  • If your event is open to the public, you can post it to our online events calendar.
  • Use our flyer to post around your neighborhood or work area to remind people of the day.
  • Share a “great neighbor” story or tell us how you are celebrating by tagging us on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram and using #NeighborDay.

For more information on Neighbor Day, please visit our website at

If you have any questions or want to bounce ideas off someone, contact Neighbor Day coordinator Sam Read at

Reprint from Seattle Department of Neighborhoods,  by 


Ballard Volunteers Needed For Sound Transit Advisory Group

SOUND TRANSIT - Ballard - West Woodland - Light Rail

Sound Transit is seeking approximately five volunteers to serve as community members of the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions Stakeholder Advisory Group (SAG).

Members will work with other advisory group members to help develop project alternatives for further study in the environmental review phase of the project.

Sound Transit is committed to involving the public in the development of a preferred alternative for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, which will be identified by the Sound Transit Board in April 2019.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a Stakeholder Advisory Group member, please fill out the application below or pass it along to someone who may be interested.

The application deadline is 5 p.m., January 22, 2018. If you need this application translated or in an alternate format, please contact one of our outreach specialists at 206-903-7229 or email

More Information

Access Application Here