RiverWorks Discovery brought its popular Who Works the Rivers (WWR) maritime career discovery day to Vicksburg, Miss., February 28. The event attracted more than 150 area high school students and 50 community college students.
Participating high schools included Vicksburg High School, Warren Central High School, Vicksburg Catholic, Porters Chapel, Benton Academy, and Madison High School from Tallulah, La. High school students heard presentations from the U.S. Coast Guard and a panel of representatives from barge lines, gained basic skills on how to obtain and succeed at a job interview, and learned more about RiverWorks Discovery.
Students also got to visit the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum, where they had lunch from Vicksburg’s The Tomato Place. After lunch, half the high school students took a tour of Vicksburg-based Ergon Marine, while the other half took part in activity stations aboard the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ mv. Mississippi IV, which is permanently docked on land as part of the museum. Students had the chance to try out line throwing. There was also a PPE (personal protective equipment) station, a tour of the mv. Mississippi IV wheelhouse, a commodities station, a welding station with Big River Ship Builders, and an in-depth discussion with the Coast Guard. The two groups then switched places.
The students from Hinds Community College arrived in the afternoon for a more traditional career fair where they interacted with representatives from sponsor companies, exchanged resumes and learned more about the maritime industry.
Sponsoring companies included Golding Barge Line, Ergon Marine, Magnolia Marine, Yazoo River Towing and Big River Shipbuilders. Partner organizations included the Coast Guard, the Army Corps of Engineers and Seamen’s Church Institute.
Volunteers from sponsoring companies were fast to praise the opportunity to introduce young people from the Vicksburg area to the important role the river and the maritime industry plays in the community.
“Each year we participate in this event with the hope of building awareness of our industry at hand in the community in which we live,” said Anna Ferguson with Yazoo River Towing Inc. “This event only reaches a portion of our students here in Vicksburg, but we are hopeful it plays a vital role of educating their friends and families as well. There are hundreds of job opportunities right here in their backyards. This industry offers an option where students can have a great career with or without a college education.”
Terence James from the Vicksburg Warren School District was impressed with how intently the high schoolers listened to industry representatives.
“During the panel discussion, students were engaged and seemed interested in what the local barge companies had to say,” he said. “The panelists provided real life insight of day-to-day operations on a variety of positions related to river careers.”
This was the sixth year RiverWorks Discovery has brought Who Works the Rivers to the Vicksburg area.
“Who Works the Rivers is a hallmark of RiverWorks Discovery,” said Errin Howard, director of RiverWorks Discovery. “The Vicksburg event was a wonderful success. We were a bit apprehensive about all 150 students listening to our panel presentations at one time, but it went so well! That Southern hospitality was evident with well-behaved, polite and engaged young people.”
Caption for photo: A group of Vicksburg high school students tour Ergon Marine as part of the February 28 Who Works the Rivers event. (Photo courtesy of Ergon Marine & Industrial Supply)