CBMM shipwrights and apprentices doing metal casting for the Maryland Dove. Photo courtesy of George Sass.

Maritime Museum Apprentice Program Awarded Big Grant

St. Michaels, Md. is home to a unique program training shipwrights in the skills needed to build, repair and restore historic vessels. And now, the value of that program has been recognized with a new $30,000-plus grant.

The Rural Maryland Council awarded the grant funds to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) to support its Shipwright Apprentice Program. CBMM has been operating the successful apprentice program for more than 20 years, graduating more than 50 apprentices. In 2018, the museum began offering a formal four-year apprentice certification, developed with state and federal labor departments.

CBMM graduated its second apprentice this winter under the registered program, Stephen North. He completed 8,000 hours of real-work experiences, learning leadership and management skills. Apprentices like North get to learn joinery techniques, ship repair, and construction. They work alongside shipwrights on projects including the construction of a new Maryland Dove. Having now graduated, North joined CBMM as a full-time associate shipwright working on the Dove.

Recent apprenticeship graduate Stephen North with CBMM and state leaders. Photo courtesy of CBMM

And North is not alone in his success. CBMM says the majority of apprentices completing its training have gone on to take boatbuilding or maritime jobs, withing in commercial shipyards or small boatyards around the Bay and United States. Others have become shipwrights on large vessel construction projects and several are working in the maritime museum industry, the museum says.

“The public may not see our apprenticeship program as typical for a ‘museum,’ yet investing in the shipwright craft is a top priority for CBMM and having a certified workforce training program furthers our growing investment in the Eastern Shore and Maryland for generations to come,” said CBMM President & CEO Kristen Greenaway, thanking the Rural Maryland Council for the grant.

The money comes from the council’s Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund, which supports rural-serving nonprofit organizations in community development as well as agricultural and forestry education.

“We believe strongly that we need to improve our local economies and we do that through educational attainment and skill development, so we are a big supporter of apprenticeship programs across the State,” said Charlotte Davis, Executive Director of the Rural Maryland Council.  

-Meg Walburn Viviano