BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — The Canaveral Port Authority Junior Ambassador Program introduces students to jobs and careers in the maritime industry — like in cruise, cargo, recreation, hospitality and environmental work.

The program can lead to students getting vocational work without attending college.

What You Need To Know

  • The Canaveral Port Authority Junior Ambassador Program helps students learn about the maritime industry

  • It allows them to get hands-on experience that would lead to vocational work that doesn't require a college degree

  • Some of the industries include cruises, recreation, hospitality and environmental work

“I think it’s the gateway to vocational training," Port Canaveral District 5 Commissioner Robyn Hattaway. "Kids don’t know to choose those programs. We have great ones in our schools. Kids don’t know how to choose them because they don’t know what they are."

The deadline to apply for this year’s program is Aug. 15.

A Cocoa High student is one of those to benefit from the program, getting hands-on experience in welding with Rush Construction.

Alex Higginbotham plans to make a career out of welding, something that is a currently hobby he shares with his father.

“It means a lot," he said. "I’m very passionate about this — and being able to learn new things about something I want to do later in life."

The 17-year-old gets to work on a real job site and learn from experienced workers in the field.

“This is my first time ever being on a job site,” Higginbotham said. “I’ve never done this style of welding, but I’m willing to learn.”

Rush's Tony Landry said meeting students gives his team a chance to see if they would make a good fit.

“We do our best to try and put our arms around them — give them as much information as we can," he said. "Not scare them away, but let them get involved with the project — working with some of the seasoned employees."

Higginbotham said joining the ambassador program helped him develop leadership skills and the eagerness to join a team.