ABYC hosts inaugural marine Educator Training Conference

By Adam Quandt

Over 60 marine educators recently gathered at the American Boat & Yacht Council’s (ABYC) headquarters in Annapolis, Md. for the inaugural ABYC Marine Service Technology: Educator Training Conference.

The first-of-its-kind event over three days featured a variety of topics to support and encourage current and potential marine educators.

“Participants in this conference spanned from a high school auto repair teacher who is thinking about teaching outboard repair, to tried and true post-secondary schools whose entire curriculum is based in marine work,” said John Adey, president of ABYC. “Schools who want a standards-based curriculum, or who want to expand their outboard classes to address new systems-rich boats, learned how to do this painlessly.”

Participants at the conference came from 15 states across the U.S., Canada and the British Virgin Islands to learn the latest on teaching marine service technology at the high school and post-secondary level.

Marine service educator Rob Berenwick leads a discussion at ABYC’s inaugural Educator Training Conference.

Sessions during the training event included: Selecting and Surviving your Curriculum Advisory Committee, Choosing your Instructor, the Evolution of “Tech Ed,” Shop Setup and Safety, and Training Aids Gone Wild. More than a dozen speakers from Marine League Schools, Evinrude trainers, industry leaders and ABYC’s education guru Ed Sherman all were on hand to help both novice and experienced instructors walk away with actionable lists.

Also during the event, Rob Berenwick, the Marine Service Technology instructor at Ocean County Vocational Tech School (NJ), was awarded ABYC’s Horizon Award. Over the years, Rob’s students have won over 30 SkillsUSA medals in Marine Service Technology at the state level and two national medals. This award is given in recognition of consistent and conspicuous contributions to the future success and growth of ABYC and the recreational marine industry.

On the final day of the conference, industry representatives including Aaron Porter, Professional BoatBuilder Magazine, Jeremy Rose, Safe Harbor Marinas, and Jyrki Auvinen of Nordic Marine participated in a panel discussion on “It’s not just a job, it’s a successful career.” Each used their years of experience in the boating world to outline a range of appealing lifelong opportunities for working in the marine industry.

As the conference wrapped up after three days of non-stop learning, participants around the room echoed in the fact that a conference like this “should’ve been started long ago,” but all were in agreement that it was a very successful and needed event for the education side of the industry.

Margaret Podlich, ABYC Foundation executive director and conference organizer, was “thrilled with the response to this first conference, both from attendees as well as the industry. The ETC ‘Class of 2019’ is like a new set of dominos, lined up to create ripple effects in the marine industry for years to come. And the industry really stepped up to the plate, too.”

ABYC said it is already looking forward to making the training conference an annual event to offer a platform for marine educators around the globe to learn from and connect with each other.

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