Boating Educator of the Year

Nominating: Pamela s. dillon boating educator of the year

In 2019, Pamela S. Dillon retired after more than 40 years in recreational boating safety. In recognition of Pam’s hard work, dedication and service given to NASBLA, the States and the recreational boating safety community, the Boating Educator of the Year award was renamed the ‘Pamela S. Dillon Educator of the Year’ award. In 2011, Pam began serving as the Education and Standards Director for NASBLA. In this position, she led NASBLA’s education efforts with monumental results. With all she accomplished in her time with NASBLA, it is just the tip of the iceberg in what she accomplished over a lifetime of vocation and service in the recreational boating community.

Educators and volunteers from state and local agencies and from nonprofit organizations are eligible. Boating law administrators should nominate candidates who have made an outstanding contribution to boating safety through education. A nominee should be someone in the education field who goes above and beyond to engage students and boaters, raise awareness, and make boating education and education initiatives relevant, thorough and exciting. Posthumous nominations are not eligible.

Three regional finalists will be chosen from among the state nominees and will win a paid trip to the NASBLA Annual Conference where the national winner will be announced and recognized during the Awards Ceremony.

Nominations for this award must be submitted by a boating law administrator.

The nomination deadline for the Educator of the Year award was April 30, 2022. Nominations for 2022 are now closed. 

View sample application.

National boating educator of the year selected

NASBLA, Fresh Air Educators, and Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc., are pleased to announce the regional winners of the Boating Educator of the Year Award. This award symbolizes the highest level of achievement among boating safety educators in the U.S.

National Winner 2021

Jerry Desmond - CTDuring its 62nd annual meeting, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Sept. 26 - 29, 2021, NASBLA presented its prestigious national Pamela S. Dillon Boating Educator of the Year award to Jerry Desmond with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”). NASBLA congratulates Jerry Desmond on receiving the National Boating Educator of the Year award in recognition of his exceptional career and impact on recreational boating safety.

Northern Region

Jerry Desmond - CTJerry Desmond

Jerry Desmond, of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (“DEEP”), has been named the 2021 Northern Region Educator of the Year. Prior to joining DEEP, Desmond retired as captain of police after serving 34 years with the Stonington Police Department (SPD). For 17 of these years, he led the SPD Marine Division conducting many marine patrols and was instrumental in training officers in boating law enforcement. Desmond also spent some of this time educating the public on boating safety as a certified volunteer boating education instructor from 1992 – 2014, and as a private provider from 1998 – 2012. Additionally, he was a certified instructor in Rhode Island for five years over this same time period. As the COVID-19 lockdowns begun, Desmond made it possible for the important work and training in Connecticut to continue. In early 2020, Desmond spearheaded the DEEP effort to create a virtual boating education platform so that agencies could continue to offer training.

Desmond’s creativity and dedication to boating safety make the waterways of Connecticut a safer place for all recreational users. His efforts to continue to educate the boating community during a worldwide pandemic demonstrates his commitment to DEEP, and the recreational boating community as a whole. Congratulations Jerry Desmond! Read the full press release

Southern Region

Sergeant Johnathan Beardsley - NCWRCSergeant Johnathan Beardsley
North Carolina
Sergeant Johnathan Beardsley, of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC), has been named the Southern Region Educator of the Year for 2021. Sergeant Johnathan Beardsley is a 14-year veteran of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. In 2018, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant and now oversees the daily operations of three coastal counties and over two-thirds of North Carolina’s coastline. Prior to joining the Commission, Sgt. Beardsley served proudly in the United States Army. Conservation law enforcement and public education were dramatically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sgt. Beardsley met those challenges head on and began using the tools available to him to continue to provide safety and security to the public of North Carolina. He hosted and led the first virtual education classes in the district. This gave the public the opportunity to access instructor-led courses while still adhering to the pandemic parameters.

Sgt. Beardsley takes great pride in the fact that he can play a small role in helping the NCWRC accomplish its mission. He is an asset not only to his district and his officers, but also to the agency and the public of North Carolina. Congratulations Sergeant Johnathan Beardsley! Read the full press release

Western Region

Sara Smith - MTSara Smith
Sara Smith, of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), has been named the 2021 Western Region Educator of the Year. Smith assumed the role of boating education coordinator for the state of Montana in 2018. She seamlessly transitioned to her new role as a boating educator and immediately started expanding Montana’s recreational boating safety (RBS) education program with new and innovative ideas. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all in-person education programs, Smith effortlessly changed stride to continue educating. She amplified social media output on all department platforms, increased radio interviews and created additional videos. One video that she made and posted to the agency website prior to the 4th of July weekend received over 10,000 views. Smith has been instrumental in helping FWP attain recreational boating safety program goals. She volunteered to take the lead in overhauling the Montana boating regulations to make them more user-friendly and cost-effective. The resulting improvement in Montana’s boating regulations will be enjoyed for many years.

Smith exemplifies the virtues of public service and is a true RBS professional. Her enthusiasm, energy and innovative ideas have brought recreational boating safety education to new frontiers in Montana. Congratulations Sara Smith! Read the full press release



Generously sponsored by Fresh Air Educators, and Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc., the Boating Educator of the Year Award was launched by NASBLA in 2011 to recognize those who go above to engage students and boaters, raise awareness, and make boating education initiatives relevant, thorough and exciting.

2021 State Boating Educators of the Year

Northern Region

Jerry Desmond, Connecticut

Sergeant Eric Baldwin, Massachusetts

Rob Crafa, New York

Southern Region

Sergeant Johnathan Beardsley, North Carolina

Officer Wally Lessig, Tennessee

Western Region

Deputy Matthew Radmall, Idaho

Sara Smith, Montana

Nick Duhe, Nevada 

(Those in bold text are the regional boating educators of the year)

Previous Recipients