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MOBILE, Alabama A job on the Mobile River sounds pretty appealing: You can work on a boat and earn up to 0 per day, straight out of high school. They ll cover your meals, too.

About 100 career tech students from Mobile County high schools learned about life as a deckhand and other maritime careers on Tuesday at the third annual Who Works the Rivers career fair, held at the Alabama Cruise Terminal.

The students were juniors and seniors who were enrolled in career tech programs at T.L. Faulkner Career Tech Center and Bryant Career Technical Schools. The event was presented by RiverWorks Discovery, an educational outreach program based at the National Mississippi River Museum Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa.

The lead sponsors were Cooper Marine Timberlands Corp. and the Alabama State Port Authority. Participants from Mobile s maritime community included AEP River Operations, Parker Towing Co., the Propeller Club Port of Mobile, Warrior Tombigbee Waterways Association, Norton Lilly International, Steiner Construction, the Mobile County Soil and Water Conservation District, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, AIDT Maritime Training Center, the GulfQuest Maritime Museum, Seamen s Church Institute, the U.S. Coast Guard, Richardson Stevedoring and Logistics and C G Boatworks.

The event is a good recruiting tool for the sponsors, and gives students an overview of the variety of jobs in the maritime industry,said Errin Howard of RiverWorks Discovery.

The goal is also to educate, she said. They re walking away as better-informed citizens about the importance of the maritime industry in everyday life. We make sure that every student gets the opportunity to see every exhibitor.

The students began the morning with tours of Cooper Marine and the Alabama State Port Authority, then had lunch and visited the career fair booths in the cruise terminal.

Cooper Marine has a need for skilled labor, said Randy Vick, who s in charge of environmental safety and security for the company. At their booth, Vick, along with John Stokes, vice president, and Ricky Mundy, operations supervisor, told the students about their company s work on the Mobile River.

They described a typical schedule for a new hire: 14 days at work, then seven days off, with meals covered on workdays. It s a good living, Stokes said.

The students moved at eight-minute intervals from booth to booth, hearing presentations, asking questions and collecting brochures and freebies.

Courses in welding and electricity are a plus, William Alford, port captain at AEP River Operations, told the students. During his presentation, he pointed out one of his company s towboats, the Safety Star, as it chugged by the cruise terminal.

I m just exploring my options, said Toni Gay, a senior at Blount High School and one of the few females among the students. I m seeing what might fit me. At Faulkner, she takes courses in electricity, and plans to earn her bachelor s degree at Lawson State Community College in Birmingham.

Danny Barnett, human resources manager at the Alabama State Port Authority, gave students tips on how to get hired: Earn your high school diploma, keep a clean driving record and stay away from drugs. If you have too many points (on your license), we can t insure you, he explained.

Judy Adams, vice president of marketing at the Alabama State Port Authority, also assured the students that her workplace has jobs for everyone.

Twenty years ago, I was the first female operations manager at the port, she said. Now, we have female managers all over the port.

In deeply personal responses, dozens of former inmates, family members of current inmates and volunteers with prison ministries have given detailed accounts of how their experiences with the facility continue to affect their lives.

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