South Florida’s Kids Can Now Sea the World

30 May 2019 By Laura Dunn

There’s a new branch of Junior Achievement in South Florida (JA) called Sea the World, and because of it, 20,000-plus eighth-grade students are learning about possible careers in the yachting and maritime industry.

Junior Achievement of South Florida was created to inspire and prepare youth to succeed in a global economy in a number of ways. Their methods include real-world training in financial literacy (e.g. budgeting, spending, investing, and the use of credit), skill-building opportunities that empower them to explore meaningful, productive careers, as well as teaching students how to start businesses.

The newly created JA Sea the World is the culmination of 16 months of planning and fundraising — raising $130,000 for a three-year curriculum and to lease and design Sea the World, which is represented as a mini storefront. It is headed up by Advanced Mechanical Enterprises’ Chief Administration Officer Christine Battles, who worked with 23 other maritime industry companies — including MPT, MIASF, Derecktor Shipyards, Global Marine Travel, Viking Crew, Water Taxi, Elite Marine AC, and Roscioli Yachting Center — to bring more awareness about the marine industry to the younger generation.

Sea the World, along with other businesses like Publix, Chick-fil-A, and BB&T, are represented through mini storefronts for kids in Broward and South Palm Beach County to explore in a mini village made up of different types of businesses and career trades. Once a year, this gives eighth graders the chance to learn about possible careers they may not have considered previously, which is why Battles knew the boating world needed to be included. (Previously, there was nothing in the facility about the marine industry.)

Battles, the original founding member and creator of Junior Achievement Sea the World, is passionate about creating awareness. She knows that even in a place like Fort Lauderdale, not everyone is aware of the marine industry. “Think about everybody on the other side of the 95 freeway that doesn’t even see the boats and doesn’t even know the shipyards exists,” she says.

Although there are 36 Junior Achievements in the U.S. and around the world, the Coconut Creek location in Florida’s Broward County is the first to hold a marine industry storefront. On May 1, Sea the World was unveiled as the new marine industry storefront for kids in the Patten Family Finance Park found at JA World Huizenga Center at the Lillian S. Wells Pavilion.

One of the great things about this program is that even before their visit, these kids get prepped for several days beforehand about things like how to sign a check, balance a checkbook, and generally what their parents have to do in life. “In eighth grade, they go to the facility and get a career. They get told if they’re married, if they have kids, what their salary is, etcetera. It’s a way for them to be educated on how to live life,” Battles says.

To her, it’s important that the kids see this and want to work in the marine industry, whether it’s out at sea, on yachts, or working for a marine industry company. She adds that it’s not just about the front end of the business (like the captains, the chief engineers, and other crew), but about showcasing the back end of the industry, too. After all, the different sectors within the yachting industry are interdependent.

Although Battles and her colleagues have done a lot already, they’re not nearly done. As part of phase two, they want to create a 10- to 14-day summer camp for kids in 2020. “I already have people calling from different companies asking how they can get involved,” Battles says. For this project, Battles says she’d like the kids to be able to do things like visit yacht management companies, get a tour of a shipyard to see what they’re doing, and even take them on a water taxi on the Intracoastal to show them what’s in the area. The overall goal is to get the younger generation to choose a career in one of the many marine sectors.

Photo credit: Tom Serio Photography, courtesy of AME