High School Apprenticeship Program

This fall (2015), we will be seeking up to 3 students from the class of 2017 and 3 students from the class of 2018 to join the Apprenticeship Program. Please contact Brian Witkowski with any questions.

Fall 2015 Application Form, Program Summary and Income Verification Form

The New Bedford Whaling Museum High School Apprenticeship Program is an education program available to New Bedford students whose families qualify as low-income and who express interest in gaining college and career readiness experience. The program utilizes Museum resources and collaborates with regional partners including BCC, UMASS Dartmouth, Junior Achievement, and the Immigrants Assistance Center to provide support, guidance, and knowledge on a variety of subjects. Apprentices are provided with courses in career success and personal finance, receive SAT and MCAS tutoring (and tutoring for specific classes as needed), are assisted with college applications and completing the FAFSA, and tour local colleges. In return, the Museum asks Apprentices to commit to the program and its conditions through high school graduation.

The ultimate goal of the program? To help YOU achieve success through high school and college.



The first year of the program consists of learning the history of the region and the biology of cetaceans as well as development of personal and career skills. Students participate in a 7-week Career Success course and 5-week Personal Finance course, both offered by Junior Achievement. Students visit local college campuses, receive help with MCAS preparation (sophomores) and SAT preparation (juniors), hone their public speaking skills, and collaborate on projects for a variety of events. Their second year, Apprentices engage in onsite internships with a specific department to further develop career skills and cultivate a better understanding of how a museum functions. The Apprentices' final year consists primarily of offsite internships related to their prospective fields of study. If a student is interested in journalism, the Museum will seek to place that student with a local partner such as the Standard-Times. If a student is interested in biology or ecology, then they may be placed at Buttonwood Park Zoo. This enables the student to gain real-world experience while networking, both of which will help secure future occupation. During their junior and senior years, Apprentices will also receive aid in visiting and applying to colleges, completing FAFSA and other financial aid forms, and general guidance through the potentially complicated process of preparing for post-secondary education. Tutoring is available to all Apprentices as needed to help achieve the highest possible scores in school.

Summer 2013 apprentices in our new Beetle whaleboat decorated for the Capre Verdean Independence parade

Summer 2013 apprentices in our new Beetle whaleboat, decorated for the Cape Verdean Independence parade.

Throughout the program, Apprentices aid in public programming and special events. Our Apprentices create projects for the annual Moby-Dick Marathon (and have the opportunity to read at it if they choose), write children's stories for the Haunted Whaleship, and design and manage crafts and activities for Presidents' Day, Right Whale Day, and Party for the Ocean Day.

During the summer, the Apprentices visit partner facilities including the New England Aquarium, Woods Hole Science Aquarium and Sippewisset Marsh, Mystic Aquarium, Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, Museum of Science, SMAST, Eastern Fisheries, Whaling City Fish Auction, New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, and Franklin Park Zoo to work with their teen interns. The Whaling Museum then hosts their interns as the Apprentices provide ice breakers, scavenger hunts, and tours of the Museum. This exchange increases awareness of similar organizations and programs while enhancing public speaking and organization skills. All of the Apprentices' cetacean knowledge is put to the ultimate test on the annual whale watch with Captain John Boats in Plymouth. 

Through these visits and the knowledge gained before, during and after, Apprentices better understand and appreciate the power they have to educate the general public and act as stewards for change for a greener, brighter, and more informed future.

Apprentices learn about American Alligators at Mystic Aquarium
An apprentice feeds stingrays at Mystic Aquarium

Students will be encouraged to write articles about their apprenticeship for their school newspaper, and will contribute to their own Museum blog site. Their writings will also be considered for inclusion into The Bulletin from Johnny Cake Hill, the Museum’s journal for its membership. Apprentices will be expected to create a personal journal that will allow them the opportunity to track their learning over the course of the program and reflect on their experiences as they happen. Ultimately, students will exit the program as ocean literate citizens, stewards of these resources, fully cognizant of how ‘the ocean and humans are inextricably interconnected.’

The program is year-round, beginning with the students' sophomore year and continuing through high school graduation. Interviews will be held in May annually. Applications are available to all New Bedford residents attending high school in good academic standing who qualify financially for the program. The program runs 10:00am – 4:00pm Monday-Thursday in July and August, with occasional evening and weekend events. Following a short break, the program resumes after school from 3:15-5:00pm Tuesday-Friday through June. This program is a commitment through high school graduation.


Application Process and Period of Work

Application forms are available below (see Application Form), at the Museum's front desk or at your school. Completed forms and a copy of your most recent report card can be submitted to: Brian Witkowski, Director of Apprentices and Interns, New Bedford Whaling Museum or to the Dean of Students at New Bedford High School, the Co-op Coordinator at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, or the College and Career Advisor at New Bedford Global Learning Charter School. Potential candidates will be invited to the Museum for an interview. 

Upon acceptance into the program, each student and parent/legal guardian will sign a Letter of Commitment for that academic year and a document promising to apply to college in the future. The Director of Apprentices & Interns will also sign the Letter of Commitment and provide a copy to the Apprentice. Apprentices under the age of 18 will also need to submit a signed Work Permit.

Eligibility: Students must be New Bedford residents in good academic standing whose families qualify as low-income to be eligible for the program. As part of the application process, Apprentices will submit a signed Income Verification Form, as required by our funders. 

The Fall 2015 Program Summary (pdf), Fall 2015 Application Form (.doc), and Income Verification Form (.doc) can be downloaded here. 


Read the September 12th, 2013 Press Release here:  New Bedford Whaling Museum Apprentice Program to receive $128,000 federal grant

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Last Modified: August 18, 2015