Waterlines - April 2014
This ice is out and we can’t wait to be out on the water!
Urban Boatbuilders has had an exciting winter which has included the doubling of our Apprenticeship Program. In addition, so many more students than ever before are participating in School Partnership Projects.
We are also gearing up for an incredible summer including:
-A school project building three boats with 40 students
-Apprentices building canoes to take to the Boundary Waters, and
-A boat build at the Minnesota State Fair.
Thanks so much for your support to make these incredible experiences possible for our youth. We can’t wait to see you this summer.
News from the Shop: Apprenticeship Expansion Update
By Angela Robins
A few weeks ago ten Urban Boatbuilders apprentices were standing in awe as engineers tinkered with a finicky flame-thrower in a parking garage. We knew we weren’t in our workshop anymore when we watched them shoot the flames across the walkway. Getting to visit Caztek Engineering was a recent highlight for our Wednesday fieldtrip and workshop series.
Ever since the apprenticeship program was able to double in size thanks to the Youth Intervention Program grant, we not only have the capacity to serve six additional youth and hire an additional boatbuilding instructor, but we also have been able to develop job readiness workshops and off-site career exploration fieldtrips.
Our life skills workshops include resume writing, interview skill building and goal setting. It is our hope that apprentices graduate this program with a toolbox brimming with a variety of hard and soft skills: both the knowledge of hand and power tools, mathematics and wood, as well as the ability to self-advocate, trouble-shoot, and exercise resilience.
For the career exploration visits, apprentices get exposed to different work environments and jobs. At Caztek Engineering, the apprentices and Urban Boatbuilders staff met and spoke with mechanical engineers and designers who work on everything from rocket-propelled planes to group pedal-powered vehicles. Apprentices also participated in an interactive critical thinking challenge, where they were tasked with the challenge of designing a gadget that would turn 5-gallon buckets into portable workbenches.
After breaking into teams and brainstorming various designs, they presented their ideas. The Caztek crew surprised us all when they whipped out their very own 5-gallon bucket attachments that they had already designed and manufactured. It was exciting to see that their product closely resembled the design of one of the apprentice teams.
The apprentices were able to observe how the same skills used for engineering, such as brainstorming, problem solving, and math, are also incredibly useful skills for boatbuilding. Thanks to Caz and his team, the trip not only reinforced excellent skills for building, it also inspired an interest in engineering for many of our apprentices. One apprentice reflected, "I would like to do their job because it seems very exciting and fun, and I love hands-on projects."
What made you want to work with youth and boats?
I first got interested in teaching woodworking and different crafts to young people when I was working at an all girls trades exploration summer camp in Vermont called Rosie’s Girls. It was one of my favorite jobs that I’ve ever had and I worked there for over 5 summers— I just knew that I needed to continue doing work like that that involved youth empowerment and hands-on skills. When I told my grandfather that this was my goal, he suggested that I study boatbuilding. He said that was the best way to learn woodworking— “If you can build a boat you can build anything.” I thought about that, and the rest was history. As I started studying boatbuilding I found it to be a really inspiring process and was really excited about the idea of teaching this to youth.
I feel really lucky to have found this job because it’s an unbelievable combination of my previous experiences and interests.
I think it's incredibly empowering to be able to make something that can take you out onto the water and I’m really looking forward to the warmer months when we can go out on the rivers and lakes with the Apprentices.
Tell us a little bit about your past work history?
Since high school I’ve been working with people younger than myself, whether that was babysitting or summer camps. After college I worked at a magnet public high school in Boston. That was a formative experience because I learned how rewarding it is to mentor and work 1:1 with a high school students who are thinking a lot about their goals and future. It’s a particularly interesting time to work with youth because its a time for a lot of self reflection as they are mapping out where they want to go in their lives.
After working for three years at that high school in Boston I worked as the On Site Director at Rosie’s Girls, the camp I had worked at since I was younger. This past year I worked as an intern at NorthHouse where I picked up a lot of traditional woodworking skills as well as baking, shoe making, owl identifying, and everything else in between.
Can you talk about your philosophy on youth development?
I think youth development is a powerful medium because there's an emphasis on treating youth as adults and giving them the ability to make choices and have leadership goals that I think can be empowering. It's also about experiential education for me— not sitting in a chair and reading and listening but instead actually doing and reflecting. I think that’s kind of the key piece in my mind— thats how we really learn is if we do and then reflect in an intentional way.
What’s your experience at Urban Boatbuilders been like so far?
For the first month I dove right in and shadowed Phil. I learned how to teach hand tools and how to make strong coffee. And since then I have been working on some projects with new apprentices— working on a skin on frame canoe which has been great— learning how that process goes.
Its been exciting having the opportunity to ramp up skills workshops and work to make the program one that is both hands on and experiential but also focusing on soft skills and next steps for the apprentices.
What do you want to see at Urban Boatbuilders in the future?
I would love to see a workshop on the water with a fleet of boats that we can use on a regular basis. I would love to see an Apprenticeship program Part 2 where enthusiastic apprentices with really positive leadership skills have the opportunity to stay longer and take on teaching roles to peers and adults.
I was born in a Japanese fishing village and speak Japanese fluently.
I also played the bassoon for 7 years.
Apprentice Spotlight: Nate
How did you hear about us?
Through my principal; We worked on a boat at my school [River’s Edge Academy].
That was the first time I ever worked with wood and building, so it was cool to learn about because I learned skills from there that are helping me now because I’m working with wood in the shop. We created the boat in 7 days instead of the 9 that were scheduled and it turned out great anyway.
I really liked this place because it was full of things I like to do— build and create things.
What made you excited about working at Urban Boatbuilders?
You get to work hands on and create things and design them. You get to use tools and stuff.
I built a low rider bike before and really liked doing that.
What were you hoping to get out of being an Apprentice?
Hoping to get more knowledge and a different outlook on working with tools and wood instead of just cars and mechanical things.
What do you want to do with all of these skills?
Build and create something unique and one of a kind.
What do you want to do in the future?
I want to be a mechanic and design cars. Learning how to build with wood comes in handy because there are certain things on cars than can be designed with wood. My dream car is a Buick Regal because there was one year where they made a grand national regal mix and that’s the car I’m excited about.
What has been your proudest moment as an apprentice?
Finishing my tool box— The process was difficult because I was learning how to do it at the same time as making it— I was nervous to see the finished product because I hold myself to a high standard when making things.
A fun fact:
I’m energetic and enthusiastic and I like to work with my hands!
Building Youth at Park High School
By Contract Instructor Stu Baron
Park High School in Cottage Grove is a massive, ultra-modern complex serving thousands of Washington County students. For the past two months, five of the thousands have worked with me to build a Wilderness Traveler Canoe. For them, the regular classroom is not always a place of comfort and security. In the back corner of a well equipped wood shop, these five students find safety in learning through building a wooden boat.
In this setting, I do my best to give the students patient guidance and encouragement to experiment with tools and processes. Because there the process is all about experimentation and the production and less about grades and the product, there is little pressure or fear of ridicule. I watch as shaking of heads and statements like,"I can't do that", turn into focused, un-selfconcious engagement, something that has eluded them in their academic classroom experiences.
Not only has this partnership so deeply impacted the students, but it’s impacted staff at the school as well. Curious staff members are constantly coming by to watch our progress and to express their sincere admiration for the accomplishments of these youth. Because these students rarely get praise for anything achieved under the school roof, this regard seems especially meaningful.
Everyone is excited about the building process, but even more excited about finishing and launching the boat in late May.
We're Looking for Local Business Sponsors!
Do you have a business, or know of a business, that has been looking to get more involved in the community? Urban Boatbuilders has three great opportunities to sponsor our program while receiving great publicity for your support.
Sponsor a boat, sponsor a school project, or sponsor an apprentice! Check out the great opportunities on our website!
May 17th— Solar Boat Regatta, 10am, Riley Lake Park
June 14th— Green Line Opening, All Day, Hamline and University
July 30th— Boat Launch Celebration, TBA, TBA
August 21st- September 1— Minnesota State Fair with the Department of Natural Resources
...and Other Public Boat Builds at Festivals all Over the Twin Cities!