Souris Regional School has rolled out a new class this year giving students a full scope of working in the Island fishing industry.
Darren Chaisson is a lobster fisherman and is teaching the class. With 14 students under his tutelage Mr Chaisson has been getting lots of positive feedback about the course readying students for a potential future in fisheries.
“I would say definitely five (students) who are seriously interested in purchasing a fleet and there are a few more who would definitely look at becoming a deckhand,” Mr Chaisson said of the students’ job prospects.
Throughout the semester-long course, students receive a six-hour CPR course to earn certification, they will also complete portfolios of local marine life tracking where fish would be caught to the point where they are sold on the market.
Mr Chaisson said assignments like this provide students with valued and realistic information for working in the industry.
“It’s a very direct relationship to what we’re doing in the classroom and what they would be doing if they were to take a (fishing) job around here,” Mr Chaisson said.
Students have already done boat safety training, visited the Marine Training Centre in Summerside where they saw technology that goes into marine vessels and started to build lobster traps from scratch.
Olivia MacNeill, 17, of Souris is one of the students in Mr Chaisson’s class. While she may not be aiming for a career in the local fishery, the course has helped her gain an appreciation of what fishermen do.
“It opens your eyes to how much work the fishermen put in,” she said.
Mr Chaisson said he tries to maintain a 60-40 ratio of classroom time to shop time to allow a balance between class work such as the species portfolios and hands-on work such as the lobster trap building.
The semester hasn’t yet concluded but Mr Chaisson already feels confident students like 16-year-old Dylan Greencorn will be able to go into the local industry after graduation to learn the ropes.
“It’s full steam ahead. I’ll buy my own fleet whenever possible,” Dylan said about his post-high school career.
He is interested in learning all aspects of the industry including the business and accounting side of being a fisherman. This going beyond what he does on the weekends on his father’s boat.
“I love fishing. It’s one of the only jobs - I go out there on the water and am happy working,”
The class is part of a larger program for students at the school called the Academic Diploma Program. Students also participate in various short courses and trips throughout their high school career. Upon graduation students in the fishery program will receive a special certificate denoting their academic efforts.