Seaport Museum offering scholarships for lifeguard training 

East End Seaport Museum and the Town of Southold Recreation Department are teaming up to provide job opportunities this summer for aspiring lifeguards and swim instructors living on the North Fork. 

Tracy Orlando, the museum’s executive director, said two scholarships are being offered to cover the expense of certified lifeguard or water safety instructor courses, which can cost up to $380. 

Ms. Orlando — whose two daughters were longtime lifeguards at North Fork beaches and public pools — became involved with the scholarship program in 2017 when she was a museum board member. Knowing first hand how financially challenging lifeguard training can be, she said she wanted to help teens achieve certification without worrying about the costs. 

“Unfortunately not everybody can afford to be a lifeguard — it always upset me and I also wanted to fill the void for our community,” Ms. Orlando said. “We have these beautiful waterways and pools, and the opportunity for these students to be ambassadors in our town.” 

Scholarship applicants must be strong swimmers who reside in Southold, are at least 16 years old, and submit an essay describing examples of instances when they acted with maturity or responsibility or detailing their personal connection to the local community’s marine heritage. 

The winners can use their scholarships to attend any of Peggy Tuttle’s 2024 American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification Courses or Water Safety Instructor courses offered at the School of Fish in Rocky Point. 

Ms. Orlando said the scholarship awardees will also be recognized at East End Seaport Museum’s season opening on May 23. 

Southold Town recreation supervisor Janet Douglass said the scholarship program will draw attention to potential job opportunities and address the need for these summer positions on the North Fork. 

New York has experienced a statewide lifeguard shortage in recent years, especially across Long Island, Ms. Douglass said. 

Certification is required to apply for one of the 25 lifeguard positions Southold Town needs to fill annually as well as for jobs at the various park districts, villages and hotels in need of lifeguards and swim instructors. 

Wages for full-time Southold lifeguards will start at $20 an hour this summer, but the town is still struggling to fill positions, Ms. Douglas said. 

“[It’s] a combination of bringing up the starting salary for lifeguards and just getting the awareness out that this is a great opportunity, not just because of the money,” she added. “It’s a very civic-minded position where you’re giving back to the community, and it looks good on resumes because it does have a different level of responsibilities.” 

Water safety instructor certification was added to the scholarship program last year due to a shortage of qualified candidates in the area. 

One recent scholarship winner was already an established lifeguard, but without the additional funds, he might not have been able to become a certified instructor, Ms. Orlando said. 

This year, museum supporters have the option to dedicate donations directly to the scholarship program. 

“Maybe we can develop three instead of two, if we get enough response for that,” Ms. Orlando said. “But again, it’s a community way of us reaching out and supporting families on the North Fork.” 

Those interested in applying for the scholarship program can email a completed application and essay to [email protected]. Applications can be found on the Town of Southold website. 

For more information on scholarships, certification courses and beach employment opportunities in Southold Town, contact the recreation department at 631-765-5182 or email [email protected]