School programs

The Port of Tacoma is connected to many Pierce County educational programs, attends career fairs, will do public speaking engagements about the port and port careers, and has developed educational tools, all aimed at greater awareness of port and maritime careers.

For High School and College Bound youth

The Port of Tacoma may be able to provide a tour for students, an internship, apprenticeship, or provide a connection to a particular career in the Maritime industry. Please contact us if you are interested in any of these options.

Youth Marine Foundation

The Doolin-Rogers

Practical maritime skills are learned aboard the United States Coast Guard-licensed Doolin -Rogers vessel.  Purchased in 2022, the Doolin-Rogers vessel had undergone an extensive, multi-million-dollar remodel in 2015 when it was the MV Baysmart Express in Galveston, Texas, and it was designed for maritime training. This vessel meets current industry standards and provides marine science education, using up-to-date technology and maritime systems. The intentional remodel took many years and was a dream realized by Captain Charles Doolin, a Dallas based philanthropist. Captain Doolin not only found the vessel and oversaw all aspects of its remodel, but he also personally skippered the vessel from Delaware to Galveston for the work to be done.

Being able to fulfill Mr. Doolin’s dream of seeing hundreds of youth trained on the vessel is an honor that Youth Marine Foundation board president Tom Rogers can understand. As a 60-year volunteer on the wooden vessel Charles N Curtis and co-founder of the YMF non-profit, he has witnessed the life-changing programs firsthand. “I look forward to continuing the work and legacy of Captain Doolin in the Puget Sound Region,” said Tom Rogers. “This vessel offers the continued opportunity to bring more of our youth to nearby waters to learn about our environment and maritime jobs, while learning to be future leaders in our community.”

The Youth Marine Foundation programs are conducted on the organization’s Thea Foss Waterway campus and docks. With access to the water and this large, commercially licensed training vessel, hundreds of young people will continue to successfully enter the maritime industry and become leaders in the community. The Youth Marine Center provide year-round underway-training platforms on which Tacoma Public Schools’ School of the Arts (SOTA) and Science and Math Institute (SAMI) marine science programs are able to conduct on-water testing in Commencement Bay. In addition, YMF owns and maintains a small fleet of 45-plus watercraft. Kayaks, small motorboats and small sailboats are used for hands on training and education of novice youth throughout the year. For more information on these opportunities, call 253-572-2666 or visit the YMF website

Elementary school program

We have developed tools to introduce elementary school students to the concepts of trade and economics, along with how Port activities impact their community.

Designed with the Tacoma School District, the elementary school program is tailored for third grade students but has been successfully used in second and fourth grade classrooms. The mix-and-match elements make it easy to integrate the curriculum into lessons.

Teacher/Home schooling resource handbook

The in-class activities and worksheets found in the teacher resource handbook can be used individually or along with our third grade reading book, Gateway to the World.

Gateway to the World reading book

Copies of "Gateway of the World: The Story of Pierce County's Port" are available free of charge to Pierce County elementary schools and home school groups. Request copies from Leslie Barstow.

Foss Waterway Seaport Museum

Discover where history meets science with exciting, hands-on learning activities. The Seaport provides a safe and supportive learning environment with educational programs for all ages, including museum field trips, boat programs, virtual education, and more. Visit or call 253-272-2750 to inquire.

Mapping ocean currents with rubber ducks

10 Little Rubber Ducks

In January 1992, a container vessel traveling from Hong Kong to the Port of Tacoma encountered a large storm. Twelve containers washed overboard into the Pacific Ocean, including one filled with 29,000 rubber ducks, frogs, beavers and turtles.
Caught in ocean currents, the rubber ducks circled the globe and were found on shores around the world. They appeared on the U.S. West Coast 10 months after the storm, in Japan and Hawaii between 1992 and 1995, on the U.S. East Coast between 1995 and 2000, and in the United Kingdom between 2000 and 2007. The rubber ducks’ journey inspired Eric Carle’s children's book "
10 Little Rubber Duckies” and the adult book “Moby Duck”. Both books are available at book sellers everywhere.