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Mentor Spotlight

Mentor Spotlight - Capt. David Jacobs

Mentoring is one of the oldest traditions on the river that still shapes the culture of today—when a more experienced crewmember guides a less experienced crewmember in a meaningful way, it both preserves needed knowledge and also forges a better future. Today’s feature is written by Jonathan Rodola, regarding his mentor Capt. David Jacobs.

I think of Dave like a Swiss Army knife. He’sa man with many talents, one of which is operating a towing vessel. I’ll go into more detail in a minute—just let me start from the beginning that led to this life changing man.

I started on the river with Marquette Transportation in 2009 and worked my way up to a lead spot. I transferred companies in 2011. I decked on many boats and ended up landing a lead spot on the America Beauty from July 2014 to February 2016. This is when I met Dave. I worked hard, pushed myself to move up, and Dave noticed and put me in for mate.

Before I left, he told me if I ever needed anything to give him a call. I’ve heard this many times, so I didn’t really take it to heart. But over the next few years, I stayed in contact since he became a good friend. We have similar pasts, which I think made it easier to build a friendship.

Over the two years I decked under Dave, I went to the river school and got my license.

Trying to find someone to steer me (which is very difficult), I reached out to Dave, but he already had a steersman. He called around and found someone that was willing to help - Steve Stewart - a guy I never met who was willing to help me out on my journey. I went for an interview and ended up not getting the pick for that group.

On the hunt again, I found two more and went for another interview. I landed the spot; however, due to some unforeseen circumstances, they backed out. So Dave agreed to take me on even though he just finished training a person.

My journey as a steersman with Dave started on July 31st, 2019. In the two years since, he has taught me many things about shooting rifles, hunting, ice fishing, and being a leader. The added bonus is driving a vessel. I owe this guy everything.

Yes, it’s been a long, fun, and inspirational ride. When I’m on my own, I’ll still hear the same things he pounded in my head:

  • “If you think you’re going to get deep, get deeper.”
  • “Sometimes it’s got to look like sh*t before it gets better.”
  • “Why are you slowing down so early?”

I grew up in foster care, have been arrested, and served two years behind bars. I lost those two years of life in my teen years, but I feel like the time I’ve spent with Captain David Jacobs of the American Beauty has made up for those lost years I had.

My family and I are thankful that God but Captain Jacobs in our lives and I will always be grateful.