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Woodward said he handled trip logistics, such as preparing meals, coordinating with the Petersburg harbor master, and arranging flights for students who wouldn’t make both legs of the journey.

Eight students from Kayhi went north on the Jack Cotant. Upon arrival, four flew home and four returned on the boat. The crew welcomed two maritime students from Petersburg for the return to Ketchikan.

Collins said he was surprised other communities around the state don’t have designated maritime programs, and especially in Petersburg where “they have a huge fishing fleet, and they’re very much about maritime and the water. I think it would be a natural fit for them.”

Collins said if Ketchikan is able to do visit other communities - such as Wrangell, Thorne Bay or Craig - on future trips, it might encourage maritime program development in the Southeast.

Kayhi student Trevor Wutzke went on the trip as both a maritime student and an ocean sciences student. During the trip north, Wutzke helped plot the course through Wrangell Narrows.

“It was scary at first, because you’re doing it by yourself and (Collins) just stands up top and makes sure you don’t do anything wrong,” Wutzke said. “You definitely learn a lot faster from it.”

Wutzke said the trip and getting hands-on experience added meaning to some of the things he learned in class.

Collins likened the experience to learning how to snow ski and said if a person skis four separate days through the season, they are likely to improve a certain amount. But if that person skied four days in a row, they would improve at a much faster rate.

“It’s the same when you live on a boat,” Collins said. “When you immerse yourself in it, and get comfortable in your surroundings, you pick up a lot more things. So those overnight, longer trips are a good thing.”

Woodward said the students were able to have experiences on the boat that they wouldn’t have had in the classroom. He said that while the group was moving up Clarence Strait on the first day, the students were working with Landwehr on an ocean acidification experiment.

“All the sudden, the kids took off with their own questions, and they started finding their own answers, and seeing that in action, while on a boat in Clarence on a bluebird day with whales nearby . I was just thinking to myself, ‘We should do more of this,’” Woodward said.

Woodward recounted a similar circumstance on the return trip that involved pulling up crab and sea stars in crab pots.

“The kids started asking all these questions about sea stars while they are physically holding the animals,” he said. “You cannot get that kind of education in a classroom.”

Woodward said he sees potential for incorporating more technology while exploring nature in future trips.

“I see visions of us doing that, but with a portable Wi-Fi system on the boat so we could be interacting with kids all over the U.S. and going live,” Woodward said. “I think we can do that.”

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