Education Grant Partner Wins NASBLA Northern Boating Educator of the Year
In September, Dana Smith of the Cleveland Metroparks, Institute of the Great Outdoors (IGO) was honored as the Northern Region Boating Educator of the Year by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
Since 1989, IGO has provided quality paddlesport skills classes and experiential programs to Cuyahoga County residents of all ages and abilities that help connect people with nature. Through program evaluations, participants expressed the need for more water related programs. This led Smith, who has been with the IGO since 2007, to want to broaden their year-round paddling programs.
Working with the Division of Watercraft to secure funding for programs and equipment through the Education Grant program, Dana has led the IGO in expanding their programs to include numerous paddling courses from canoeing to kayaking to stand-up paddling (SUP).
She also travels to communities beyond Cleveland Metroparks to provide these classes and paddling opportunities. These excursions take people to southern Ohio and beyond and are used as tools to increase the number of paddlers safely using Ohio waterways.
A partnership with the Cleveland Rowing Foundation was developed by Smith to broaden paddling experiences along the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland. This partnership allows IGO to offer kayakers and canoeists safer access along the Cuyahoga River while also providing education on safe paddling among freighter traffic and to continue to promote safe river paddling.
In addition to receiving her most recent award, Smith is also the recipient of the 2012 American Canoe Association National Paddlesports Education Award and the 2011 Ohio Parks and Recreation Association Award of Excellence in the Category of Community Wellness Programs, with the project being Paddlesports.
Smith strives to be a leader in outdoor recreation through canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding opportunities. She serves on a local steering committee working towards developing a water trail along the Cuyahoga River and also serves on ACA committees for planning the Adaptive Instructor Workshop and the newly formed SUP committee.
Smith is planning to pursue her ACA Instructor Trainer in Level 2: Essentials in SUP.