Foss Opens New Career Horizons for High School Kids from Native Alaskan Villages

Forty high school students from remote native villages on Alaska’s Kuskokwim Bay toured Foss Shipyard and the corporate headquarters in Seattle recently, networking with managers and learning about possible careers at the company.

The 10th graders came to Seattle in two groups of 20 each, two weeks apart. The Foss visits were part of trips to Seattle that also included stops at the University of Washington and the Seattle Maritime Academy. The outings were organized by a community development agency called the Coastal Villages Regions Fund, which represents 20 communities in the Kuskokwim region on the Bering Sea.

Capt. Dave Corrie described what it takes to be a tugboat captain.

Foss Project Manager Amber Thomas, who helped organize the trips, said that while the students learned much from their experience, Foss employees who were involved also got a lot out of it.

“Something about being a role model to young people brings out the best in people,” she said. “Foss was thankful to be a part of this program, and we cannot wait to see these kids working with us in the future.” Foss Naval Architect Janic Trepanier said it was rewarding to “broaden the horizons” of the Alaskan teenagers who otherwise might not have been aware of the kinds of career opportunities they could pursue.

“When I was growing up I knew what I wanted to do; I wanted to be a naval architect,” she said. “But I didn’t know how to get there and had to do my own research. It would have been very helpful to have had some guidance.”

Capt. Dave Corrie said meeting with the kids was “really fun.” “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Alaska other than short jaunts,” he said. “I hadn’t been around the villages for some time, and I’d forgotten how respectful the people, in this case these students, are. They were fascinated with the company and with their travel. A lot of them hadn’t been out of their villages before.”

Carpentry Shop Foreman Chris Mills explained the workings of a table saw in his shop at the Foss Seattle Shipyard.

Project Controls Coordinator Luba Babadzanov led the groups on the tour of the Seattle Shipyard, where they met with shop foremen and others. In a format known as “speed networking” at Foss headquarters, seven Foss managers met groups of two to three students for seven to eight minutes each.

The managers were Vice President for Health, Safety, Quality and Environment Grant Johnson, Vice President for Sales and Marketing Jeff Horst, Columbia Snake River Regional Manager Art Dahlin, Corrie, Port Engineer Dave Atkins, Trepanier and IT Network Administrator Gus Silva. Chief Operating Officer Will Roberts also addressed the group.