Students at this year’s Providence Boat Show offered several boats for sale

The North Providence, Rhode Island school district’s marine trades program was the centrepiece of the recent Providence Boat Show; not only displaying and selling student-built boats but touting the program’s academic and work-placement success.

Debbie Wood, operator of the show and owner of Wood Boat and Motor, said she’s been nothing but impressed by the success of the town’s marine trades program and has long supported the program through professional services. “We believe in their program,” she told the Valley Breeze newspaper. “I believe it’s one-of-a-kind. Everything about it is just fascinating.”

Citing the marine industry’s difficulty in drawing skilled trade workers, Wood says the North Providence High School students that apply to her company have a leg up because they have been studying the trade since middle school, where they begin learning the basics of flotation, weight distribution, propulsion and proper maintenance, she said, having a trade instilled in them at a young age.

That trade experience can then take them on to other programs, including work-study programs at dealerships such as her company.

Marine programs such as this one are “absolutely key” to the marine trades in Rhode Island, and are great for students who might not be strong in academics, she added.

“We’re actually creating a workforce for all of us in the marine trade here in the Ocean State,” Wood said.

Where past shows featured local students working on one boat, this year students at the show offered several boats for sale, said Wood, an opportunity to bring money back into the program and let students see the results of their work.

Though none of the boats sold at the show, she said a number of people put in orders for custom-built boats, and students will fulfill those requests. The price for those boats will likely range between US$300 and $650.