Apprenticeship Program: High School or GED

2014-15 Application Form and Program Summary

The New Bedford Whaling Museum Apprenticeship Program offers an opportunity to high school students who excel academically and express interest in gaining work and college readiness experience while earning a competitive wage. The Apprenticeship program uses museum resources as well as those of regional academic and scientific institutions to increase the knowledge base and practical experiences of high school students in New Bedford while encouraging them to continue their studies upon entering college.

The Apprentice Program of the New Bedford Whaling Museum is open to New Bedford residents in grades 11 and 12 who qualify for free or reduced lunch.  The thematic connection linking all aspects of this program is the continuing story of the growth and significance of New Bedford as shaped by its relationship with the ocean and the harvests made on it.

Through this program, high school students are challenged to understand first, the history of the whale fishery, its historical context, the people who were at the heart of the industry, the evolution of New Bedford and the region and its relationship with the ocean, oceanography, the biology of whales, the impact on world commerce, the impact on the environment and the economics of whaling. The Program addresses the questions: How? When? Why? By Whom? With what consequences?

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.

The Apprentices are introduced to the challenges of interpreting the story of whaling. Through interaction with the staff of the country’s leading whaling museum, students are given insight into the day to day operations of a museum: curatorial, marketing, educational programs, community events, preservation, interpretation, research and how these services make the history of the whale fishery accessible to the public. They learn about the various cultures and communities connected by the world’s first global economy.

Also, the Apprentices are immersed into the challenges of modern day commercial fishing. Through an introduction to marine biology, oceanography, and the dynamics of the fishing industry, the Apprentices are encouraged to draw on their understanding of the past to inform their concept of the future of ocean harvests:  how they should be managed and the impact of mismanagement on the planet.  

Apprentices will meet and learn from a variety of experts, participate in hands-on projects and potentially serve as assistants for on-going monitoring programs coordinated by Museum partners. Just as importantly, students will also develop organizing, problem solving and team-building skills. They will also be encouraged to think creatively, develop presentation, storytelling and public interaction skills, and learn how to think on their feet in front of an audience. Opportunities include reading at the Moby-Dick Marathon, going on whale watches, visiting Mystic Aquarium and the Museum of Science in Boston, and exploring and clearing trails at Cuttyhunk Island and Allens Pond. 

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 consists of two sessions during the academic year and one summer session. Beginning in 2015, interviews will be held in May and June, and the program will begin the week after July 4. The summer session will take place for six weeks during July – August, with students working from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, four days per week. The school year sessions will run from September – January and February – May. Students will work from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm during these sessions, four days a week. 

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. The next round of applications will be collected in April and May 2015.

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 Science Director 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 receiving free or reduced lunch at school to qualify for the program. Upon hiring, apprentices will submit a signed Income Verification Form, as required by our funders. This is a paid position.

Application Form (.doc) and Program Summary (PDF) can be downloaded here. 


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

Last Modified: February 25, 2015