For the crew of the Sturgeon Bay Coast Guard Cutter, the early December educational event was the culmination of a season of teaching local kids about the vessels routine activities. For the students and teachers from the Bayonne school district, it was an eye opening experience.
“We teach them about how to get involved, and about hands on real life aspects of what we do.” – LTJG Ken Sauerbraunn,
“We teach them about how to get involved, and about the hands on, real life aspects of what we do,” said LTJG Ken Sauerbrunn, one of the crewmembers responsible for helping organize the summer-long activities. “The students come to us and we show them what we do in New York Harbor.”
During the summer, students often go out into New York Harbor and get a hands on lesson about how the ship operates, what various terminology means, and aspects of environmental science many students learned through textbook lessons at school.
“The whole crew works together on this,” Sauerbrunn said.
Kathy Bingham, program director for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, a federally funded program, said the school partnered with the federal government.
“We brought 140 students from town here,” she said. “They got to ride on the ship and learned about water safety and other things.”
For many, it was their first time on the water.
Part of the effort, Saurbrunn said, was to open up kids to the possibility of the Coast Guard as a career choice.
Students, of course, were encouraged to ask questions. While some of the questions were routine, they also asked relevant questions about the Coast Guard and the service it provides.
Lt. Rae, commander of the Sturgeon Bay, said a huge amount of what his crew does involves education with as many as 800 students who come on board each year.
During one three-month period last year, the Sturgeon Bay logged in almost 1,400 volunteer hours by mentoring kids and providing educational programs to students throughout the New York and New Jersey area. For the “Partnership with Education,” crewmembers go to area schools to teach or students come to visit the facilities in Bayonne.
The partnership program also has regular visits from particular schools in the area in grades ranging from kindergarten to sixth, and this culminates yearly with “Coast Guard Day,” when volunteers from the various cutters get involved with the festivities.
The Coast Guard facility in Bayonne also serves as part of the New York area’s U.S. Department of Homeland Security and an aid facility for navigation. The Sturgeon Bay is an ice cutter, and may be called on to travel throughout the harbor in cold months to unclog parts of the harbor needed for navigation.
The facility in Bayonne also serves as a northern New Jersey training facility for Coast Guard cadets out of the Cape May Academy.
The Sturgeon Bay serves as a floating classroom for the cadets, who come north for overnight trips to get exposed to real operations.
The cadets assist in all shipboard operations, gaining valuable experience they would not get elsewhere.
The facility is charged with providing maritime safety and security throughout the harbor, and serves as the local arm for national defense. But in some ways, the Coast Guard also acts as a kind of traffic cop here, facilitating the movement of commerce by eliminating interruptions and impediments to shipping in and out of the ports. Less obvious is the role the Coast Guard plays in preserving the environment in relationship to shipping, fishing and recreational boating.
The state recognizes units each year for their commitment, dedication and support of the Partnership in Education Program. The Sturgeon Bay won for best cooperative effort. The number of students quadrupled in size during the 2007-2008 school year, according to a release issued by its Washington, D.C. headquarters. The partnership involved more than 10 different groups, schools and organizations.