AMSEA’s Jerry Dzugan Sets Focus on Strictly Training

After 36 years as executive director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, Jerry Dzugan says he’s ready to hang up that hat and concentrate on program development and training courses. Photo courtesy of Jerry Dzugan.

After 36 years as executive director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, Jerry Dzugan is stepping away from executive tasks to focus on what he says loves most, program development and training mariners to be safer at sea.

To Dzugan, who has taught hundreds of people everything from ergonomics to keep them fit for their work to survival when they have to abandon ship, teaching is a passion he said that he wants to devote his work with AMSEA to, starting in 2023.

He will be involved in program development and training, and marine safety policy, like working with the Coast Guard on policy and with other regulatory agencies, he said.

“I consider it repurposing myself, focusing on the training program itself,” Dzugan said. “It needs more support on policy with the Coast Guard and I’m an educator. That’s what I do best.”

“My background is in training: it keeps me in touch with the younger generation all the time. It’s just a change in title and a more realistic workload,” said Dzugan, whose favorite course to teach is instructor training.

“It’s an intense week-long course. You learn how to teach effectively and it’s more in depth,” he said. “I have great friends from 30 years ago from teaching that course. It’s the most intense course, but also the most enjoyable.”

Those who sign up for the instructor training also are doing it because they really want that training, he said, while many who take the drill conductor course may be doing it only because it is required by the Coast Guard.

Dzugan said that teaching mariners of all ages has given him a new perspective and new ideas.

“Good instructors are good learners, and I got to meet some interesting people also,” he told Fishermen’s News.

He is encouraged by the fact that more younger people are taking AMSEA courses, and that they are much less resistant than the older generation, what with the whole cultural change in fisheries.

Oldtimers are more prone to acknowledge that there is a lot of risk out there and a lot of fatalities, but there was more of a fatalistic attitude in the old days and young people are not so fatalistic, he said.

“People are also a lot more risk adverse once they have a family,” he commented.

The AMSEA board of directors has begun a search for a new executive director, inviting those interested in applying to get additional information at

Dzugan said he has given AMSEA a date at the end of January when he’ll resign as executive director, but it’s not a drop dead date.

“I just want them to find a good person,” he said.  “In this environment, you can’t even find people to bag groceries.”