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caption: A ferry is shown on Monday, June 10, 2019, in Seattle.
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A ferry is shown on Monday, June 10, 2019, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Washington State Ferries looks to the next generation to staff — and bring diversity to — future crews

Young students of color from around Seattle are checking out what life is like working onboard a Washington state ferry.

The ferries need more employees, plain and simple.

"We’re hiring!” said Bryn Hunter from Washington State Ferries.

The service has been short on crew since the Covid pandemic began in 2020.

And a lot of the crew, Hunter says, looks the same.

“Traditionally we've only had a lot of white and men as a part of it and we need more women, we need more diversity, and that's a really key thing that we're trying to reach out to," Hunter said.

Recently, Hunter gave a tour of a ferry to high school students who were mostly Black or brown — students who may have an interest in a future on a boat.

The students were members of the Youth Maritime Collaborative, a local group that connects underrepresented youth with maritime-related careers. The ferry was just one vessel these kids will see this summer.

Omari Brown, 18, said he enjoyed seeing the inner workings of the engine room.

“I like the technical side — how it makes you have to have a lot of knowledge and you have to know what you're doing, because one wrong move and everything can go bad," Brown said.

Brown and others said they’re interested in attending the Seattle Maritime Academy when they’re old enough.

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the name of the youth program involved.

This story was updated on Friday, Aug. 19 at 3:20 p.m.