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, 2020. Nominations for 2020 are now closed. 

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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 2019

Jess_Gehrt.jpgDuring its 60th annual meeting, held in Anchorage, Alaska, Sept. 29 - Oct. 2, 2019, NASBLA presented its prestigious national Boating Educator of the Year award to Lt. Jesse Gehrt with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. NASBLA congratulates Lt. Jesse Gehrt on receiving the National Boating Educator of the Year award in recognition of his exceptional career and impact on recreational boating safety.

Northern Region

Thomas & Elizabeth ScottThomas & Elizabeth Scott
The Northern Region award recipients are Thomas and Elizabeth Scott of the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Thomas (“Tom”) and Elizabeth (“Betty”) Scott began their journey as safe boating instructors in 2002 so that they could help their Boy Scout troop obtain a powerboating merit badge. For the last 17 years, they have worked as a team conducting Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) safe boating courses and public outreach. Together, they have provided over 300 hours of knowledgeable safe boating instruction to Connecticut boaters as well as countless volunteer hours at volunteer events.

After providing the necessary training to their Boy Scout troop in 2002, the Scott’s wanted to expand their skills with the Boating Division. They were able to continue working as safe boating instructors for the town of Ledyard Parks and Recreation Department. Through their dedication to education and instruction, Tom and Betty have given back much to their community. Armed with Tom’s boating knowledge and Betty’s experience in education, boating and attention to detail, the Scotts have served their community well as a dynamic and valued team of volunteer instructors. Congratulations Tom and Elizabeth Scott! Read the full press release

Southern Region

Dana GageDana Gage
Dana Gage, of The LV Project, has been named the Southern Region Educator of the Year for 2019. In the aftermath of her son’s preventable and tragic death by drowning, Dana Gage made it her mission to change the way people think about water safety. Gage, using her professional media experience, founded The LV Project. The LV Project relentlessly pursues the idea that all people can LiVe and LoVe buoyantly - on water, and in life. Through their water buoyancy projects, The LV Project raises awareness for drowning prevention and specifically advocates for use of life jackets on lakes. Gage has developed a media powerhouse of electronic information and education for life jacket awareness. The LV Project completes service projects and supports organizations that give people who are in need a lift in life.

Overall, Gage’s creative mind coupled with her unwavering passion for the cause and her heart for educating, informing and saving the lives of all people who spend their time around water is second to none. Words cannot describe what Dana Gage has done for the Texas community and water safety as a whole. Congratulations Dana Gage! Read the full press release

Western Region

Lt. Jesse GehrtLieutenant Jesse Gehrt
The Western Region award recipient is Lt. Jesse Gehrt of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). For several years, Gehrt’s assigned duty area included Milford Reservoir, the largest federal reservoir in Kansas, encompassing 15,700 surface acres of water and 163 miles of shoreline. The reservoir, which is bordered by Fort Riley, recorded the highest annual number of boating incidents in the state and between one and three fatalities per year. This high rate of incidents has been partly attributed to the fact that Fort Riley ran its own marina at the base where soldiers were renting vessels without any prior education or boating experience. These soldiers frequently used alcohol on their outings, until Lt. Gehrt began to address the situation.

Lt. Gehrt focused on addressing this situation through partnerships with the Fort Riley marina staff. With the help of his state Boating Law Administrator and Boating Education Coordinator, Lt. Gehrt successfully developed boating safety programs throughout his district. This initiative later evolved into educational requirements for soldiers to rent vessels from the base marina, yearly safety presentations to base personnel, and the inclusion of boating safety programs into the schools that the officers' family members attend. Gehrt’s diligence and focus on this matter has reduced the reservoir’s fatality rate from one to three per year to a total of three over the last 12 years. Lt. Gehrt’s focus, drive and experience in educating the boating public makes him a valuable asset to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the recreational boating community. Congratulations Lieutenant Jesse Gehrt! 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.

2019 State Boating Educators of the Year

Northern Region

Thomas & Elizabeth Scott, Connecticut

David Raphael, Massachusetts

Southern Region

Dan S. McIntyre, Florida

Steven J. Washabaugh, Missouri

Brent Ward, North Carolina

Dustin Buttram, Tennessee

Dana Gage, Texas

Western Region

Stacey Mank, Alaska

Dan & Christine Robinson-Clement, Arizona

Sam Machado, California

Joleane King, California

Guthrie Lowe, Colorado

Clifford "Cliff' Inn, Hawaii

Jesse Gehrt, Kansas

George Tinker, Oregon

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

Previous Recipients