Teens can only imagine the life, the opportunities, the potential that they glimpse at through some window, but even the slightest glimpse of possibility can change a young person’s entire perspective. One recruiter can offer a vision of an esteemed military career and purpose, serving their country. One apprenticeship can pave the road for a career in a skilled trade.

Remarkably, only a small fraction of Brevard’s teens has ever been to Port Canaveral, one of the largest economic engines in the region.

Port Canaveral serves multiple sectors of Central Florida’s economy and supports thousands of jobs directly at the port and indirectly throughout the area, bringing fuel to our cars and food to our tables. Port Canaveral welcomes millions of travelers from around the world, while also rescuing sea turtles who have travelled from oceans and seas far from here.

Thousands of individuals make up the day-to-day safe operations of our seaport. Some of the more well-known seaport occupations at Port Canaveral include harbor master, lock master, harbor pilots, United States Coast Guard, United States Navy, and our logistics workers such as stevedores. Each of these requires unique and dedicated training. Each also enjoys precious moments on Florida’s waterways and occasionally watching history being made on Florida’s Space Coast.

Port Canaveral is known worldwide as one of the world’s busiest cruise ports. However, not everyone knows that Port Canaveral is also a key partner in the space industry, commercial fishing, and the United States military. Each one of these areas is growing and will need skilled labor.

Nationally, US seaports recognize that their workforce is aging. More and more seaports are working with local high schools to develop programs and scholarships to reach high school students and recruit them.

Locally, the Propeller Club of Port Canaveral raises money all year to support the HELM program at Rockledge High. HELM, or “Helping Educate Leaders in Maritime” offers studies in Maritime Technology and apprenticeship opportunities. Students learn maritime skills including knot tying, rope handling, navigation, maritime rules and laws, and port operations. Students are also given the opportunity to take the Maritime Transportation Associate exam.

The HELM program is one path to a career at the port, but there are others. Port Canaveral has paths for students in any number of the Brevard Schools certifications or skills, such as HVAC, Refrigeration and Heating Technology; Building Construction Technologies, Emergency Medical Responder, and Hospitality and Tourism, to name a few.

Port Canaveral’s Junior Port Ambassador programs seeks to change that. While Port Canaveral has had an Ambassador program for many years seeking to connect with the community, this is the first program of its kind seeking to connect high school students and their peers with the Port.

Port Canaveral is currently taking applications from high school students to participate in this one-year program. The program is designed to introduce Space Coast high school students to the different sectors of Port Canaveral. The students then work together to create a collaborative multi-media presentation that is shared back with their classmates.

The ambassador meet four to six times per academic year at the Port, where they connect with leaders from the maritime industry, space, commercial fishing, construction, the US Coast Guard and the Brevard County Sheriff’s department, to name a few. In its first year, students went on to enter the US Navy, the US Army, and local welding programs. At least one student also applied for a commercial fishing license.

Applications can be found at www.portcanaveral.com/careeers/Junior-Port-Ambassador-Program in the Spring of 2021. The next class will begin in the Fall of 2021.