Unplug and Unwind

In the spring of 2016 one if the members of The North Coast Marine Manufacturing Alliance presented an idea for STEM education that involved building wooden boats with youth. Building To Teach, which has over one hundred programs nation wide, and the Teaching With Small Boat Alliance showed their support for a Northern Wisconsin youth wooden boat program.  The North Coast Alliance voted to showcase this much needed youth empowerment opportunity at the Tall Ship Festival in August of that year.  During the 2016 Tall Ship Festival, a group of  alliance members, including Ann Franz and Mark Hawkins and community volunteers spent three long days introducing kids and families to traditional tools for woodworking, building wooden boats, and gauging interests in this area of Maritime STEM education.  Hundreds of contacts accumulated on signup sheets, startup funds were donated, and the unanimous community support for Hands On Deck and its mission was demonstrated over those three days.

Through the use of traditional hand tools that do not require electricity, we have given youth and families the opportunity to grow together through building a project in an “unplugged environment” With instruction and oversight from a mentor they are learning ways of work and craft that are missing from todays society.

Since our incorporation during the summer of 2016, we have ran over seventy five two hour wooden boat building and hand tool wood working classes with Green Bay Public School System, The Brown County Public Library, The Brown County PALS, and Victory Academy in Northern Wisconsin.  Fifteen 3-4 hour classes were arranged for over 30 mentors to be assessed, trained, and prepared to teach classes that range from basic woodworking with hand tools, leather working, and traditional and modern wood boat construction.  Over 50 Green Bay families, have been directly impacted on a weekly basis through our regular Monday night classes.  Our board has grown from four directors to nine, with an operational budget of $4000 in 2016, $24,000 in 2017 and our board has voted on a budget and updated strategic plan to embrace the community demand for growth in programming and infrastructure.  Working with the Brown County Health and Human Services PALS program remains as our target group of disadvantaged youth.