Embedded Video

Aboard the M/V Doolin-Rogers, it’s not just a sea voyage. 

It’s a journey. 

“I'm stoked, man. It's so cool. I want to be a marine biologist,” said Ayla Macary, a student at Tacoma Public Schools’ Science and Math Institute.  

Dreams are nurtured aboard the Doolin-Rogers, the new training vessel of the Youth Marine Foundation, which is based at the Tacoma Youth Marine Center on Port of Tacoma property. 

On a wintertime trip, the ship paused in Commencement Bay, so students could lower equipment over the side to take samples off the sea floor. 

An underwater camera provided a glimpse of what was below. 

“Look at them all, oh my goodness,” Macary said while watching a feed from the camera showing moon jellyfish. “They’re so pretty.” 

Macary shared the moment with Avery Silos, a student at Tacoma School of the Arts. 

Silos wants to someday work for the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. 

“This type of field work is one of my dream jobs,” Silos said. “This is an amazing program.” 

The group aboard the Doolin-Rogers that day was a mix of students interested in science and art.  

Some are driven toward specific maritime careers, while others got their first exposure to the sea. 

“Maybe they come out here, they do find that they really like this, or at worst they come out here and they walk away saying that, hey, this isn't so bad, this is kind of cool,” said Megan Jacobsen, marine biology teacher at Tacoma School of the Arts. 

The Youth Marine Foundation bought the vessel in 2022 in Texas and the Port of Tacoma provided funding through the Local Development Investment Fund to help bring it into regulatory compliance.

The ship is named for Dallas philanthropist Charles Doolin, and for Tom Rogers, co-founder of the Youth Marine Foundation. 

Many programs on the Doolin-Rogers are designed for students interested in maritime careers. 

“It’s really exciting to get kids down on the water,” said Bob Houston, executive director of the Youth Marine Foundation. “The idea is to create a spark, create an interest and get kids interested. And it could lead to a whole variety of things including careers.” 

With demand high for maritime workers, the foundation and the Port are partnering to help build the workforce of the future. 

“One of the pillars of our strategic plan is investments in workforce development,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Kristin Ang. We know that we need to take a leadership role in creating the workforce of the future for the maritime industry. 

The Port’s commitment to connecting students with career opportunities includes the Port Maritime Center project, which will include locating the Tacoma Public Schools’ new Maritime|253 skills center beside a new Port office building on the Foss Waterway. 

The Port regularly offers tours for high school students and in late 2023, Port Commissioners approved a contract to expand career pathways through paid work experiences and internships.