Given by the President of the Board of Directors to individuals for outstanding service to the ACA on a national level.
2020 - Kanawha Falls Rescue Team
From ACA Board Chair, Robin Pope: The highlight of my year as ACA chair is the opportunity to recognize people who have made a difference in paddling. This year’s award goes to a group that saved a life and demonstrated the best ideals of the paddling community.
Earlier this year, a rescue occurred on at Kanawha Falls in West Virginia. A paddler was trapped behind in a flake behind a waterfall, heads up but unable to escape. His boat was found floating downstream and local rescuers started a search. At sunset, they stopped. However, local boaters learned about this, contacted the local professional rescuers and were able to initiate a search close to midnight. Shortly after, they found the subject and successfully rescued him. Charlie Walbridge, one of the pioneers in swiftwater rescue, describes this as the most miraculous rescue he’s heard of in 50 years. The cooperation and coordination of many paddlers and professional rescuers, that started years before as they created positive relationships between paddlers and rescuers, led to a fellow boater – who would almost certainly have died – going home to his family. This year’s President’s Award goes to the members of the Kanawha Falls rescue team. We have a brief video made by one of the participants that we’d like to share: here.
We’re amazed and inspired by the people who performed this rescue, and thank them for their amazing efforts.
2018 - Joe Moore
In February 2015, Joe founded Adaptive Expeditions as an interactive, educational nonprofit designed to empower individuals with physical and sensory disabilities with the skills and confidence to maintain active, independent lifestyles. Through Adaptive Expeditions, Joe leads local adaptive sport and recreation programs in Charleston, SC and teaches outdoor recreation industry best practices throughout the country. In the past 4 years, Joe has led 32 educational workshops (including 28 ACA Adaptive Paddling Workshops) at colleges and universities, park & recreation departments, outdoor programs, or other entities in 23 different states. Joe designed and coordinated the 2014 ACA Adaptive Paddling Summit in Grand Rapids, MI, and in 2017 Joe wrote a grant to host the 2nd ACA Adaptive Paddling Summit in Weeki Wachee, FL. As a part of this same project, Joe secured finding to expand the ACA Adaptive Paddling Program to new disciplines – SUP, rafting, SOT fishing kayak, and wave ski. Joe wrote another 2017 grant to lead development of an ACA Advanced Communications Endorsement that would convey instructor best practices for paddlers with auditory, visual, and speech impairments. This new ACA Endorsement was designed to empower instructors to better serve a segment of people with disabilities that has never before been directly addressed by an ACA curriculum. “I am passionate about working to improve the world we live in through education, advocacy and sharing positive life experiences with others. My love of the natural world and my drive for excellence guide most of my life choices.”
2018 - Tom Uebel
Tom Uebel has been an ACA member for over 50 years. He has served on the Sugar Island Board of Trustees and has been Chair of the Trustees for two terms. In addition, he has represented Sugar Island on the ACA’s Property Management Committee. When not canoe sailing and placing at the national championships, Tom spends his time volunteering with maintenance projects at both the ACA’s Camp at Lake Sebago as well as on Sugar Island.
“I’m proud of direction Sugar is going. My goals at the beginning was to get on the same page as National and bring the island facilities up to code. I look back and smile knowing I planted a seed that is growing. We must work together for this to happen. The award that was given to me was truly special. But it could not have happened without support from both the ACA BoD and the Sugar Island Trustees. So in closing thanks for your support, and a lot of work in front of us to make this venture work. Thanks” -Tom Uebel
2017 - Kirk Havens
Kirk was tossed into a canoe at the tender age of 3 as part of his family’s long standing involvement with paddling. His great uncle, grandfather, uncle, and father were all Olympic paddlers. He enjoys all forms of paddling from outrigger to whitewater and in the late 1980’s founded the Mid Atlantic Paddlers Association. He served on the ACA Board of Directors as chair of the National Competition Council and later as Vice President of the ACA. In 2005 he became President and Board chair and was elected to two terms during a period of difficult financial times for both the nation and the ACA. During his tenure as ACA President, Havens facilitated the relocation of the headquarters of the ACA from a landlocked industrial complex to the vibrant riverfront community of Fredericksburg, Virginia along the banks of the Rappahannock River. He expanded the ACA’s presence nationally by negotiating with the federal government to allow placement of an ACA safety and instructor information message on US Geological Survey stream gage websites nationwide (over 7,000 sites) and on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide gage website. He facilitated the ACA’s connection to NOAA’s Marine Debris Program that formed the foundation of the ACA’s “Stream to Sea” stewardship effort in river and coastal cleanups. He initiated the ACA’s effort to increase paddling access by advocating for transportation departments to consider providing pull-off parking access when constructing or repairing bridges. Havens was a strong advocate for increasing the ACA’s involvement with youth, particularly with colleges, and initiated the ACA National Collegiate Downriver Canoe & Kayak Championship series. He formed a partnership with disabled veterans and children groups and started the Power of Paddling Initiative (POPI) which teams skilled disabled veterans as instructors in paddling to serve as teachers and role models for children with similar disabilities which laid the groundwork for the first National Adaptive Paddling Summit. In an effort to bring together all forms of paddling, he facilitated the initial meetings between the ACA, the US Olympic Committee, and USA Canoe/Kayak to re-engage a partnership to promote paddling from local recreational clubs to elite performance athletes and he continues to work on the ACA PaddleStar Initiative. He championed the ACA presence on the international stage by facilitating the ACA’s involvement with the famous Hawaiian navigator, Nainoa, and the Worldwide Voyage (WWV) of the double-hulled sailing canoe Hōkūle‘a’. The Worldwide Voyage of the Hōkūle‘a’ will last approximately 36 months; travel more than 45,000 nautical miles; and visit at least 26 countries, with 62 stops. During the WWV, crews will connect with classrooms and educators and with community and indigenous groups who share the Hawaiian Mālama Honua (care for island Earth) values and the vision of navigating toward a healthy and sustainable future. Havens’ passion, however, is with the history of the ACA from its roots in New York and Sugar Island to the banks of the Rappahannock River. He promotes the importance of the ACA’s rich heritage and stresses the significance of historian Daniel Boorstin’s quote “trying to plan for the future without a sense of the past is like trying to plant cut flowers.” Havens holds a PhD in Environmental Science and Public Policy and donates his time on various national, regional, and local boards. He lives in rural King & Queen County in Virginia with his wife Karla and son Kade, two dogs, two cats, and a bunch of bantam chickens where he faithfully holds to the ACA’s original mission of paddling comradery and exploration. The Havens family can often be found entertaining paddlers of all abilities on the back creeks of their property.
2016 - C.C. Williams
Charles “C.C.” Williams, a native of Fort Mill S.C., is passionate about teaching and learning through the outdoors. A paddler and ACA instructor since 2005, he has spent the past 5 years teaching and guiding students of all levels as they discover the waterways of South Carolina. He is currently an Active Learning & Living (A.L.L.) Outdoors coordinator for the City of Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department, a Level 4: Swiftwater Rescue Instructor, a Level 4: Whitewater Kayak Instructor, and a Level 2: Essentials of River Kayaking Instructor Trainer. C.C. was instrumental in organizing the inaugural ACA Level 1 / Level 2 Instructor Symposium in September in South Carolina. The ACA and the City of Rock Hill Active Learning & Living Outdoors program teamed up to offer the first symposium designed to address the specific needs of Level 1 & Level 2 Kayak, Canoe, and SUP instructors.
2016 - Carlo Picchio
Carlo has been the volunteer ACA representative for Italy and the speaker for the ACA’s Europe Division. University graduate in engineering, Roasting plant director in one of the main Roasting plants in Milan. And that’s my real job, which led me around the world a lot. Passionate canoe paddler, mountaineer and outdoorsman, I am active in the western and central Italian Alps. During the years I explored a lot of Canada (Ontario, Alberta and Yukon), USA, (mainly in the 4 corners, California, Wyoming ), North Africa (Morocco mountains and deserts, Libya, Tunisia), mostly with my wife. Recently I reduced my international activity because I prefer to adapt to the needs of my kids (5 and 8 years old, starting to paddle on their own). I always traveled and paddled alone or with friends and family but recently, my wife enthusiastically started a new venture in running an environmental educational program on the lake and mountains around our home. My contribution is as a part time guide for people who like to know our lakes in a way seldom practiced in Italy. My way of traveling has always been inspired by a traditional approach to nature, with respect to local culture wherever I travel, and in particular in my own home mountains and lakes. I feel the need to preserve the environment, the ancient use of natural resources and I really like to confront the way different cultures approach and solve outdoor issues. Canoeing in Italy is very little understood and known, so with a network of friends we are trying to introduce a discrete and intelligent way to live and understand our rich rivers and lakes. I am trying to import a canoe culture where almost nothing exists. So I’m now a member of the board of directos of AICAN, (www.aican.it) the Italian Association for Canadian Canoeing, and locally I’m in charge of the development of canoe activities at “il canneto”(www.ilcanneto.it), our operation on the lake near our home. Italy has a great tradition in mountaineering, kayaking is very popular in all its ways (sea, flat water, whitewater)and has official recognition, Canoe is something very little known and completely left alone. Almost no schools exist, and the few have no standards for instructors and methods. I decided that being part of ACA is the best way to start a canoeing educational walk for me and for anybody in Italy that would like to enjoy a traditional, safe, and healthy approach to nature.
2016 - College of Life Foundation
As an ACA Paddle America Club, the College of Life Foundation has developed programs in the following categories: Competition, Stewardship, Education and Instruction, and Community Outreach. They launched Calusa Palooza as an ACA sanctioned race which will become an annual event. The race included canoe, kayak, and SUP categories with a free 1 mile Kid race. College of Life Foundation planned and facilitated a restoration project along the Estero River. The 7 mile river was littered with debris, crippled by non-native, invasive species, blocked by downed trees, and an eyesore for families as a railroad bridge was covered in graffiti. The Foundation partnered with Lee County Natural Resources on removal and treatment of the invasive species and removal of the downed trees. Within two weeks, native vegetation began to grow! The Foundation partnered with local businesses and volunteers to paint the graffiti covered Seminole Railroad Bridge; a climbing club from FGCU rappelled over the bridge to reach the suspended parts over the river. ACA/LL Bean provided a grant for this project and liability coverage. Then, the Foundation organized a trash / litter pick up of the 7 miles of Estero River that empties into the Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve. Partnership was key in completing this project. The Seminole Railroad only granted permission after the Foundation had requested permission to paint the bridge – after three years of emailing and letter writing. Partners in the community rallied around this event and were so grateful for a clean river to enjoy paddlesports with their families.
2016 - Los Angeles Kayak Club
Paul and Katherine Macey founded the Los Angeles Kayak Club (LAKC) over a decade ago and have consistently supported and led the organization to promote paddling in Southern California. The LAKC has successfully maintained ACA Paddle America Club (PAC) status for many years and runs its annual ‘beginner trips’ on the Kern River through the ACA. Katherine and Paul are exemplary paddlers and stewards of the community. They generously promote and lead kayaking activities, and both emphasize how community is a key to kayaking. The Macey’s rally support for the annual Kern River Festival, have competed in Kayak Polo competitions around the world, and have truly build generations of kayakers, including Alex Morris and Bryant Burkhardt, two individuals serving on the California ACA State Director council. This year, recognizing their contributions to the Los Angeles area, the Macey’s received a community award from the Los Angeles Mayor’s office! Katherine and Paul typify the generosity and philanthropic personality that sustains the kayaking community. Katherine and Paul Macey are receiving the award for their generosity and leadership in supporting and building paddling communities. They use the ACA’s PAC structure for many activities and promote ACA membership, safe paddling, proper instruction, and good stewardship and community.
2014 - Patrick Frehner
Mountaineering/Expedition Guide, licensed Raft Guide; ACA Level 5: Advanced Whitewater Canoe Instructor, Level 4: Whitewater Kayak Instructor, and a Level 4: Open Water Coastal Kayak Instructor. I learned my job as an airplane mechanic, studied engineering in medicinal technic, worked as a commercial pilot at the age of 22. Left the job and worked over 20 years as Tour Manager / Tour Operator and Expedition guide worldwide. Since 1998, I’m back in Switzerland leading my own canoe and outdoor riskmanagement school. Consultant in setting up eco tourism in Switzerland and in risk/safetymanagement on ISO 9001 for outdoor companies. I was paddling when I immigrated to Canada in 1990. My focus on that time was more on expeditions where paddling, trekking and climbing was in combination. As a mountain guide I led expeditions all over the world, paddling was only on the side. In 1998 the passion of paddling took over and I came back. Since then the paddle is my second hand and a part of my “living out of it”.
2013 - Franziska Pokorny
Franziska Pokorny lives in Ilanz, a small town in a mountain valley in Graubünden, Switzerland. She began her career as a raft guide on the Rhine River, just a few kilometres from her house. Later, she took ACA courses in France and became an ACA certified instructor. Franziska is passionate about teaching others how to enjoy the water, not just for competition, but also for leisurely, recreational enjoyment. She has served as the Co-Chair of the ACA: Europe Division and was on the planning committee for the 2013 Europe Paddlesports Conference in Zurich, Switzerland. Four years ago, Franziska became an ACA FreeStyle Canoe Instructor. With FreeStyle, she started to fully understand what paddling is about. She tries to teach her students a good technical foundation and encourage them to have respect for the water and for nature. She believes strongly in knowing your own power and possibilities, recognizing your limits, and listening to the water.
2013 - Virgil Chambers
Virgil Chambers was the National Safe Boating Council’s first Executive Director. Under his leadership, the NSBC has tirelessly served the recreational boating community by elevating boating safety to new levels of professionalism and excellence. After nearly 20 years with the organization, Virgil retired from his position as Executive Director on September 30, 2013. Virgil’s service and dedication to boating and water safety began when he served in the U.S. Navy. During his time in service to his country, Virgil was awarded: the National Defense Service Medal; the Republic of Vietnam Service Medal (twice); the Vietnamese Commendation Medal; the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry; the Combat Action Ribbon; the Presidential Unit Citation; and the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V” (twice). Later, he taught Biology to high school students for five years before joining the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, serving as chief of the Boating Safety and Education Division from 1978 to 1995. One of Virgil’s most significant accomplishments was the development and implementation of the Public School Boating and Water Safety Manual and Program, used by many schools. Virgil is an accomplished regional, state, national and international author and presenter. During his career, he was also certified as a lifeguard, lifeguard instructor (trainer), water safety instructor (trainer), canoeing instructor and boating instructor for the American Red Cross, and an instructor in canoeing and kayaking for the American Canoe Association. As Executive Director for the NSBC, Virgil served as the technical content advisor in direct support of the NSBC’s education and information programs. He was responsible for the planning and development of the year-round national boating safety awareness campaign administered by the U.S. Coast Guard. In his retirement, Virgil looks forward to remaining involved with the boating safety community.
2012 - ACA Staff
President, Robin Pope acknowledged the work ethic, dedication, support, and positive attitude of all the staff members that have worked on behalf of the ACA and paddlers everywhere during his tenure as President of the ACA Board of Directors. The staff was recognized at the Awards Ceremony at the National Paddlesports Conference in Charleston, South Carolina and was extremely grateful for the award.
2012 - Heinz Goetze
Heinz has been an ACA Level 4: Whitewater Canoe Instructor Trainer in Germany since 1996. He was instrumental in promoting the ACA instruction and education program throughout Europe over the past decade and a half. he is a passionate canoeist who enjoys all aspects of the sport. His commitment helped other ACA members in Europe to develop and implement the ACA Europe Paddlesports Conference.
2011 - Matt Swift
Matt is a member of the ACA Board of Directors who was instrumental in assisting with the tehnical transition of the ACA database. Matt is the Coordinator of University Budget Systems at Virginia Tech, where he leads the strategic planning for administrative systems in the budget and finance area He enjoys teaching Boy Scouts to canoe pole and he is one of the top canoe polers competiting at the National Championships each year.
2011 - Raphael Kuner
I live in Grenzach-Wyhlen, near the Swiss border together with my wife Lydia and our three kids. About 20 years ago I got in touch with canoeing. My first tour was in winter on a small river in Germany. It was freezing cold but I was hooked. The following 10 years I paddled a lot with my family and my friends. In the meanwhile I owned my own canoe and some others too – in 1998 RAFFTAFF was born, my canoe-rental-company. In 2002, I decided to become ACA Instructor. Open Canoe Flatwater was my first certification with Heinz Götze and Jörg Wagner as my IT‘s. In 2003, I added the Moving Water certification. The next several years I spend a lot of time with guiding and teaching, building up my company. Since 2010 I am a Level 3:River Canoe Instructor Trainer. The first ACA Europe Conference in Vienna was my motivation to add some more qualifications to become an all around instructor. In 2011, I added the Level 4: Whitewater Canoe Instructor certification with Eli Helbert as my IT, the Level 4: Swifwater Rescue Instructor at Landmark Learning with Justin Padget as my IT, Level 2: Essentials of Kayak Touring Instructor with Gerhard Grimm and Jeremy Oyen as ITs and the SUP Instructor with Chris Stec. My passion is teaching people and helping them out into the great outdoors. And I enjoy messing around in my canoe, my kayak and on my board. As a paddler I prefer the more technical stuff. Safety is always my big personal theme. Since I‘ve started paddling in a sea-kayak and on a SUP, my paddling areas are quite extended. It‘s always hard to decide which craft I should choose today .. 🙂
2011 - Gerhard Grimm, Sr.
Gerhard hosted the first ACA Europe Paddlesports Conference in Vienna, Uastria in 2010. He is an ACA Level 4: Whitewater Canoe Instructor Trainer Educator, a Level 2: Essentials of Canoe Touring Instructor Trainer Educator and a Level 3: Coastal Kayaking Instructor Trainer. He is a mountain guide, paddlesports teacher, sailing instructor and cook. He also teaches for the Austrian Canoe Association. He has owned Natur-Pur Alpin & Kanuschule since 1991.
2010 - Ed Hayden
Edward S. Hayden, of Waterrford, CT was a retired building contractor for over 35 years, taking great pleasure in building reasonably priced starter homes for young families. He also built a Rectory, Middle School, Convent and Chapel for the Diocese of Norwich and served as building inspector for several high schools. He culminated his career by creating a housing development in Oakdale. After retiring in 1988, he volunteered much of his time with Habitat for Humanity. He loved sports and was involved with several local teams and volunteered with Little League and the Boy Scouts. The sport he loved competing in and promoting most was canoe poling, as a member of the American Canoe Association. In this sport, he stood in his canoe and pushed it with a 12 foot aluminum pole up and downstream in Class II whitewater, competing with men 20 years or more his junior. He designed several racing canoes used in the sport. He won many trophies and received recognition by local and national canoe associations for his devotion to the sport and for promoting and teaching the skills. On Nov. 6, 2010, he was presented the American Canoe Association’s highest award, the President’s Award, for his contribution to the sport of canoe poling. He has made it known that he had a great life and had done most of what he wanted to do. He passed away peacefully on Friday, December 3, 2010 at his home with family around him. His last wish is that those who love him celebrate the time they have in this life. He has been a strong, positive presence with all who have known him, and he will be sorely missed.
2010 - Jim Virgin
Jim is the long-time Chair of the ACA’s Pacific Northwest Division and currently serves as Vice-President of the ACA Board of Directors. He is very involved with the Boy Scouts of America on the local, regional, and national levels. He received the BSA’s prestigious Silver Antelope award. Jim also represents paddlesports on the United Safe Boating Institute’s Board of Directors.
2009 - Janet Zeller
Janet Zeller had been paddling canoes and kayaks for over 25 years when she was injured in a work-related accident resulting in paralysis including in all four limbs. Despite being a quadriplegic, she was determined to keep paddling. In 1990 she developed the Adaptive Paddling Program for the American Canoe Association (ACA) and co-authored the book Canoeing and Kayaking for Persons with Disabilities. Janet has worked in the field of accessibility since the mid 1980s and joined the U.S. Forest Service in 1991. She is the National Accessibility Program Manager for that federal agency. In addition to managing the accessibility program for the Forest Service, she also represents the agency working on accessibility issues with organizations and other federal agencies and is currently serving on a committee of the U.S. Access Board developing guidelines. Janet makes presentations and instructs accessibility and universal design of programs and facilities at a wide range of training sessions nationally. She is also an ACA Instructor Trainer Educator, teaching adaptive paddling workshops around the country.
2008 - Pamela Dillon
Pam, ACA Executive Director from 2002-2007, has been an avid paddler since the early 1970’s. An ACA Instructor Trainer in canoe and kayak, she also served as an Instructor TrainerEducator in both disciplines. Appointed as Chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Watercraft in 2007, she returned to her roots where she began as a State Watercraft Officer in 1977. With ODNR she assisted in the development of the Ohio River Rescue Training program, the first state-sponsored training program of its kind in the United States. Pam served as Chairperson of the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) from 1991-1993. She was named to the National Boating Safety Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2005, she received appointment to the National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) and was reappointed for a second term through 2009. Pam has received recognition for her work from the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, National Safe Boating Council, the National Water Safety Congress, the Professional Paddlesports Association, the United States Power Squadrons and as well as numerous federal, state, and local awards.
2007 - Paul Sanford
A native of the Cleveland area, Paul spent weekends and family vacations during his youth hiking and exploring Ohio’s state parks. He also boated on the glacial lakes of northern Indiana, and fished the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. His first experiences on land and water laid the foundation for an outdoor life. In the late 1990s, Paul took up kayaking. This, combined with his previous governmental public policy experience, earned him an appointment to the Board of Directors of the American Canoe Association in 2003. After a year on the Board, ACA asked Paul to take a staff position. He became ACA’s Director of Stewardship and Public Policy and General Counsel in June 2004 through April of 2011. During his tenure at ACA, Paul developed and implemented the ACA’s policy priorities, represented recreationists with land management agencies, worked in the legislative process, and was an active participant on the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition. Paul also helped develop the policy platform of the Outdoor Alliance (OA), a coalition of six human-powered recreation organizations of which ACA was a founding member. In its first five years, Paul and his counterparts built OA into a very effective advocacy coalition on a wide range of recreation and conservation issues, among them National Forest planning, roadless area conservation, access for human-powered recreation, and sustainable recreation on BLM lands.
2006 - Nathaniel Bishop (posthumously)
Nathaniel Bishop was one of the founding members of the ACA in 1880. In addition, he was a true wilderness canoeing explorer who hiked and paddled extensively throughout North and South America.
2006 - Anne Vetterlein
Since 1989, ACA Membership Director Anne Vetterlein has been on the other end of the phone (and email) supporting, advising and helping ACA members from coast to coast. She retired in 2011, after an amazing 23 years (Yes, that’s right, she’s served ACA members for over 2 decades!)
2005 - Charlie Wilson
Charlie Wilson left the University of Illinois with Masters degrees in Outdoor Recreation and Organizational Theory to enter the outdoor sports industry. He operated a small chain, then a retail shop before designing portage packs and sewn accessories for paddlesports application. He was a principal in Bell Canoe Works, developing many of the companies solo and tandem paddlecraft with David Yost, a relationship that continued when he co-founded Placid Boatworks. While at Placid he introduced infusion lamination techniques and developed an integral gunwale system. Retired from manufacturing, Charlie continues as an industry consultant on marketing, hull and trim design and infusion processes. Charlie has written articles and submitted images on paddling and camping for CanoeSport Journal, Paddler and Canoe & Kayak Magazine, co-authored FreeStyle Paddling and contributed chapters to several other books on paddleport topics. Charlie become involved in FreeStyle paddling in the mid ’80s and helped promote Conclaves, a series of paddlesport industry events which eventually brought him to the ACA as FreeStyle became an ACA discipline in 1990. Chairing the ACA FreeStyle Activity Committee placed him on the ACA Board of Directors and the National Instruction Committee.The National Instruction Committee was transformed into the Safety Education & Instruction Council (SEIC) via the ACA National Bylaws revision of 1995 which came from a Board Committee Charlie chaired. While Board Secretary and SEIC Vice-Chair under Kim Whitley, Charlie chaired SEIC sub committees that rewrote SEIC Bylaws and policies to bring them into line with the national initiatives and to improve function through simplification. The 32 page policy document was reduced from 32 to 8 pages. Elected SEIC Chair in 1997, Wilson encouraged the Council to embrace the broader paddlesports market, specifically by developing instructional programs for recreational kayaking, touring canoe and kayak, and emerging groups of multi-sport enthusiasts. The broad acceptance of the essentials programs is, perhaps, the most visible result of those initiatives.After serving his second term as SEIC Chair, Charlie was elected President of the ACA Board of Directors for two successive terms, continuing the philosophy that the ACA needs to address the needs of all paddlers. Charlie was an inclusive chair who could run a meeting and initiate structure and programs, but his most important contribution to ACA instruction was a green coconut curry scallop dinner served over soba noodles to the SEIC one Friday evening at the Washington Suites in November 1999. For once, everyone smiled.
2004 - Sigrid Pilgrim
An avid paddler of canoe and kayaks for three decades, Sigrid’s main interest is to provide information about paddlesport to the public to participate safely and to engage paddlers in becoming stewards for the environment. “Sig” has been a lifelong advocate for paddling instruction and safety, a state and national paddling community leader, and one of the founders of the current incarnation of the Illinois Paddling Council. Sig Pilgrim was present at the rebirth of the Illinois Paddling Council as an advocacy organization on Oct.1, 1995 at the statewide “Gathering at the Confluence” near Channahon. She held the follow-up meeting a month or so later in the basement of her Evanston home. That meeting formally established the IPC as the statewide advocacy Council it is today. In the mid 1990’s Sig served three years on the board of American Canoe Association. From 1995 to 1998 she edited and published “Pole and Paddle”, the ACA’s Midwest Division newsletter. The national organization recognized Sig’s work with its “Outstanding ACA Division Volunteer Award” in 1997 and its “Presidents Award for Outstanding Service to ACA on a National Level” in 2004. Sig was instrumental in producing the 1997 Safety on the Water Conference at the College of DuPage. She was an active member of Chicago Whitewater Association and for fourteen years organized and taught the club’s Evanston pool sessions. She was certified as a kayak instructor and organized and participated in the first Adaptive Paddling workshop in the Chicago area for people with disabilities. Sig’s untiring energy and unparalleled event production skills spearheaded the creation and success of “Paddling in the Park” for twelve years. The regional paddlesports festival was held in Palatine and featured local retailers, clubs and low cost paddling skills instruction. For more than 15 years, Sig’s service as a board member, and her marketing talents, have helped the IPC promote the growth and membership of the Illinois Paddling Council, and its efforts to promote safety, access, communication, competition and conservation. Sig’s lengthy record of leadership in paddling clubs and state and national advocacy organizations, her promotion of paddling safety, and service as an instructor and river conservationist is truly inspiring. The Illinois Paddling Council is pleased to recognize Sigrid Pilgrim’s decades of service with its “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
2004 - Dr. Robert Kauffman
Dr. Kauffman is a professor of Recreation and Parks Management at Frostburg State University. He is responsible for administering the undergraduate program in Recreation and Parks Management. He has served as the Vice Chair (2002-2003) and Chair of Faculty Senate (2005 to present). On average, Dr. Kauffman publishes one to three articles a year. Generally, presents from one to three national conferences a year. Past presentations include National Recreation and Parks Association, the Association of Experiential Educators and the International Boating Safety Summit. He created two award winning films: Cold, Wet, and Alive and Heads Up and two award winning wallcharts: River Canoeing and Canoe Camping. He has assisted in over seven cases involving boating safety. He has served as Secretary of the Board, American Canoe Association for four years and Second Vice President of the Board, Cumberland YMCA.
2004 - Ed Councill
Ed is the father of Canoe Kentucky. Known all over the state, and the nation for that matter, as a visionary in the paddlesports industry. He has served on many volunteer paddlesports boards, including being the President of the Professional Paddlesports Association, and won many awards for his service, including the ACA President’s Award (2004) and the PIA President’s Award (2007). He also serves on the International Whitewater Hall of Fame Board of Governors. He currently is retired from the day to day operations of Canoe Kentucky, and is spending his “not-so-free” time pursuing his newest passion: getting kids and minorities into canoes and kayaks.
2003 - Jeff Liebel
Jeff is an ACA L2 Certified Instructor Trainer in Touring Canoe, L3 FreeStyle Canoeing Instructor, and L2 Kayak instructor. He is the Managing Partner of Counterpoint Consulting, a Buffalo based management consulting firm. Jeff also spent six years as the COO of a nationally branded outdoor and snow sport accessory manufacturing company. He is a licensed New York State Guide and a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT). He served on the national board of the American Canoe Association including a year as president and is currently the Chair of the Northern New York Division of the ACA. Previously he chaired the Waterways Committee of the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. Jeff graduated from Gannon University with a BS/BA in Marketing.
2003 - Jim Mandle
Jim Mandle is a registered New York State Adirondack guide and an ACA certified instructor in FreeStyle and Wilderness Canoeing, plus a Canadian CRCA Classic Style Paddling Instructor. Jim has extensive experience organizing and leading wilderness canoe trips. He is also an expert in restoring classic canoes. his firm helped create the current ACA logo.
2003 - Katherine Mull
Katherine has served as the Executive Director at the Dan River Basin Association from 2006-2011. She was a Senior Environmental Planner at the Northern Virginia Regional Commission from 2002-2006 and the Executive Director of the Potomac Riverkeeper from 2002-2004. In addition, she served on the Board of Directors of the ACA and was the Chair of the Conservation and Public Policy Committee from 2001-2003. Katherine also served on the Board of Directors at the West Virginia Rivers Coalition and was the founder of the Friends of Sugarland Run. She was a Board Representative for the Environmental Stakeholders at the Potomac Watershed Roundtable and currently owns a Management Consultant firm.
2003 - Kathy Schmiesing
Kathy began her career with the ACA in 1983. She worked at the National Office under three different Executive Director’s until her retirement in 2008. Her official title might have been Office Manager but as everyone knows, she did much more than that to ensure the continued success of the ACA.
2002 - Mike Aronoff
Mike has paddled various craft all his life and loved every minute. His paddling credentials include ACA Instructor Trainer Educator in River Kayak, Open Water Coastal Kayak and Whitewater Canoe, Instructor in Swiftwater Rescue as well as a British Canoe Union Sea Kayak Coach. He is an Adjunct Professor of Kayaking at George Mason University (River/Sea) and teaches kayaking classes for the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins, Loyola and the College of the Albemarle. He is the owner of Canoe Kayak and Paddle Company,the first ACA Pro School. CKAPCO provides instruction, certification and trip leading for Kayak and Canoe at all levels.
2002 - Marge "River Mom' Cline
A master of canoe and kayak, Marge Cline was one of the top paddling instructors in the country. A stickler for safety and proper technique in her classes, she thrived on the exhilaration of taking on a wild river. Her signature move was a headstand in the bow as her canoe shot through white water. A family rafting trip to West Virginia in the late 1970s hooked Mrs. Cline on river sports. She was teaching within a few years and became certified by the American Canoe Association as an instructor trainer educator, meaning she could instruct others how to teach paddling, said Tom Lindblade, a longtime paddling instructor. Mrs. Cline edited the Chicago Whitewater Association newsletter for more than 25 years. She also subscribed to similar newsletters around the country and gathered pertinent news for a publication called Confluence, which connected canoeists and kayakers, her son said. In the early 1990s, Mrs. Cline organized a Paddling in the Park event in Palatine, which later drew hundreds. In 2000, Mrs. Cline was named one of 100 Paddlers of the 20th Century by Paddler Magazine, one of many honors she received over the years for her dedication to the sport.
2002 - Joe Pulliam
Pulliam got his start in the paddlesports industry in 1982 as marketing director for Perception, Inc. Six years later, he left to co-found Dagger. Ten years later, Dagger merged with Perception to form Watermark Paddlesports. In 2005, Confluence Watersports acquired Watermark’s paddlesports division brands, including Dagger. He is now part of the Senior Management team at Jackson Kayak where he works with founder Eric “EJ” Jackson. During the course of his career, Pulliam has given back to the paddlesports industry through membership on the boards of paddlesports trade associations, the American Canoe Association and American Whitewater. He also served on the 1996 Olympic Whitewater Marketing Committee as well as myriad local and regional business and river-oriented non-profits.
2002 - Alison Snow Jones
Dr. Jones was an Associate Professor in the Department of Health Management and Policy at the Drexel University School of Public Health. A valued economist, she directed important research concerning alcohol use and health, and directed joint programs between the Schools of Business and Public Health at Drexel. She received her PhD in Health Economics from The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the Bloomberg School of Public Health). She previously served on the faculty of Johns Hopkins and later Wake Forest School of Medicine. Alison was one of the primary authors of Critical Judgment I and II: Understanding and Preventing Canoe and Kayak Fatalities. In addition she served on the Board of Directors of the Dan River Basin Association and the ACA.
2002 - Kim Whitley
A member of the American Canoe Association since 1981. Kim is an ACA-Certified Instructor Trainer Educator in Whitewater Canoeing and Kayaking and Surf Kayaking. He is a Lecturer in Kinesiology at William & Mary teaching courses in Adventure Games, White Water Kayak, Rock Climbing, Ski/Snowboard, and Principles of Outdoor Leadership. He has served as a contributing author to Introduction to Paddling Canoeing Basics for Lakes and Rivers and the ACA Instructor Manual (the red book).
2001 - Robert 'Bob' Arthur
Bob was the inspiration and founder of the Southwestern Canoe Rendezvous. This signature event conducted by the Houston Canoe Club from 1989 to 2001 raised the image and knowledge of Paddlesports in Texas. Bob also served as Commodore of the Houston Canoe Club as well as other officer positions. He served on the Texas Rivers Conservation Board for TPWD and the board of the American Canoe Association. Bob currently was on the Board of the Bayou Preservation Association where he headed the Paddle Trails Committee and was instrumental in having Buffalo Bayou in Houston designated as Texas’ longest paddle trail. A prominent canoe launch site was dedicated in his honor.
2001 - Oreon Mann
Oreon is a long-time member of both the ACA and the Georgia Canoeing Association, which is an ACA Paddle America Club. He is also a canoe instructor. In addition, Oreon volunteered with the ACA’s Dixie Division in a range of capacities for many years.
2000 - Jim Thaxton
Jim Thaxton were the first to offer canoe rentals on the Main Licking River in Kentucky in 1980. He is the recipient of the Outfitting Industry’s highest award — The Frank A. Jones Outstanding Outfitter Award in 1987. Jim served on the board of directors of the Professional Paddlesports Association, the American Canoe Association, and the American Recreation Coalition and has received numerous awards and certificates of recognition from these organizations. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Paddlesports International.
2000 - Don Jarrell
ACA lifetime member since 1965. Don’s first activities teaching canoeing began during boy scouts as a volunteer aide in the Red Cross Canoeing program in Oakland, CA in 1962. He became a Red Cross Canoeing Instructor in 1965 and served on the faculty at Red Cross National Small Craft Schools in Seattle.Don is currently active in canoesport as the President of POST Canoe Club based in Oakland, CA. He has served on the ACA Board from 1977 to 1987, and held many committee positions including: Whitewater Open Canoe, Sailing, Instruction, Judicial, Budget, Sugar Island, Bylaws and others. Don has competed in National Championships in Whitewater Open Canoe, Canoe Sailing, and Canoe Poling.He first became active on the ACA national level in 1975 while working at the Pennsylvania State University where he served on the faculty as an Instructor, Recreation and Parks 1975 to 1979. As Chairman, he secured several USCG Boating Safety Grants for the ACA. These grants produced the Canoesport safety packet, as well as some Public Service Announcements. He also expanded the Instructor base across the country during his tenure as Chairman from 1977 to 1980. Don Received the Dusty Rhodes Founder’s Award in 1995, and was named to the ACA Councilor’s Roundtable in 2003.Don assisted in the development of the Red Cross materials for Canoeing and Kayaking instruction as both a volunteer, and on staff in Washington, DC. He worked for the American National Red Cross from 1979 to 1986.He has been working for the Pacific Maritime Association since 1987 as a Training Supervisor in Oakland, CA.Don married Karen in January 2009 and now resides in El Cerrito, CA.
1999 - Charlie Wilson
See above description.
1999 - Charles Yatman
Charles was a USA delegate at the historic 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a long time member of USACK and was the President of COPAC in 1997 for the Pan American Games. He continues to volunteer as a kayaking judge for the International Olympic Committee.
1998 - Mark Molina
Mark Molina is an American Canoe Association Instructor Trainer in Canoeing and Kayaking. His areas of expertise are Freestyle canoeing, Canadian Style paddling, and Traditional, or Greenland-style sea kayaking. Mark is a regular contributor to Paddler magazine and other journals, and co-author of a book and two instructional videos on solo canoeing technique. Mark Molina is a two-time gold medalist in North American Interpretive Freestyle Competition. He has taught paddling, trained instructors, demonstrated and presented at venues throughout the US, Canada, and in Europe, including three ACA National Paddlesport Conferences and the International Canoe Symposium in the Netherlands. Mark has also served on the ACA Safety, Education, and Instruction Council and the Freestyle Committee Board of Directors. He was the recipient of the 1998 ACA President’s Award for his contributions to paddlesport. Mark lives and paddles on a small lake in Florida with his wife, Becky (who is also an ACA Instructor Trainer), son Joe and dog Sophie.
1998 - Chris Nielsen
Chris has been a supporter of the ACA for several decades. He served as a Division Chair and on the ACA Board of Directors for many years. He is still extremely active with several local paddling clubs as well as the ACA’s Delaware Valley Division.
1998 - Bill Spitzer
Bill grew up in Florida and served in the U.S. Navy in the early 1960s (both of his children were born in the Philippines). Bill was one of the first staff hired by the new Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, created in 1965. He was one of the authors of the first Nationwide Outdoor Recreation Plan and a prime strategist for urban national parks. In 1988 he was instrumental in establishing the NPS’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, and was also a key player in strengthening the NPS National Trails System program. Bill was the principal inspiration in 1990 for Trails for All Americans, which laid out the vision of a trail within 15 minutes of every American home. Typically, the report was a joint Federal/state/local/private effort. Bill’s signature was collaboration and collegiality. Bill was also a key player in strengthening the whole National Trails System, building base budgets for most of the 17 established national scenic and historic trails. Bill was a unique blend of visionary and pragmatist. He believed in partnerships and grass-roots advocacy but scorned half-baked ideas that he sensed would never fly. His first rule was “only get involved with programs and projects that have strong public support.”
1997 - Les Fry
Back in the late 1960’s before many of us started boating, and before some of our younger members were born, Les Fry served as president of the newly formed Coastal Canoeists club. He, along with others, helped build an active club that has promoted paddling and given many of us a good introduction to boating and whitewater as well as a strong community of paddlers and friends. Les began paddling as a youngster and years later joined the Coastals in its first month in 1965. He has paddled very, very actively for four decades, some years missing only a few weekends in his boat. During that period, whitewater paddling became very popular. Paddlers around the country learned and developed more skills, safety and river lore by personal and shared experience. Much of it was included in Coastal CaNews issues during which time Les was the editor. He also wrote and edited the “Port Advocate” for the Norfolk Junior Chamber of Commerce during the 1940’s, and the monthly “Jaycee Journal” for the Portsmouth Jaycees from 1944 to 1952. Many of these publications included his signature cartoon drawings.
1997 - David Bookbinder
David worked at the ACA National Office from 1997 until 2004. He served as the ACA’s General Counsel & Director of Environmental Enforcement. He litigated over 20 cases for enforcement of the Clean Water Act and was a primary author of the publication Hostile Waters. After his tenure at the ACA, he went on to be the Chief Climate Counsel for the Sierra Club.
1996 - Roy Schmiesing
Roy is married to long-time ACA Office Manager Kathy Schmiesing. Roy was the consumate volunteer, always willing and able to help out at the ACA Office or at a wide range of ACA events. No task was too large or too small for him. His volunteer support of the ACA is greatly appreciated.
1996 - Linda Davidson
Linda is an active member of the Conewago Canoe Club. She is an accomplished photographer with her photographs appearing in several major publications.
1996 - Joe Penna
1995 - David Reichert
David is a member of numerous Texas paddling clubs and enjoys whitewater, touring, camping, fishing and birdwatching. He owns a variety of canoes and kayaks. David is very active in and was the Vice-President of the Texas River Protection Association (TRPA).
1995 - Tom Mackenzie
Tom has spent a lifetime crafting wonderful canoes at LoonWorks in South Carolina. He has served on the ACA’s Safety Education & Instruction Council (SEIC) as chair of the Touring Canoe Committee for many years. In addition he is an ACA Level 3: FreeStyle Canoeing Instructor Trainer Educator and is responsible for organizing numerous paddling symposiums across the country.
1994 - Ray McLain
Ray was a graduate of Oklahoma State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). After working for 31 years at Proctor and Gamble as a chemical engineer, Ray left the United States lock, stock and paddle in 1995 to establish a small, but growing, adventure travel business in Costa Rica, called Costa Rica Rios Aventuras. To Ray’s relief and satisfaction, the company he pioneered was sold a few months before his death to Brett Shelton, who wants it to “remain the same as when Ray ran it, offering guests a wonderful, quality, safe trip at a reasonable price.” The paddling world has lost one of its finest. Ray McLain, former national marathon and whitewater canoe champion, American Canoe Association Instructor Trainer, and team manager and coach to many top-class young boaters, died January 23, 2003, after being diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. He was 65.
1994 - Walt Witucki
Walt was a charter member of the Lehigh Valley Canoe Club helping found it in the late 1970s with the first official meeting back in April of 1977. Walt started in water sports at a young age. “It goes back to my Boy Scout days. I was going through the merit badge process and someone said how about a canoeing merit badge and I said ‘that sounds like a good idea.’ I did some training in the Boy Scout program, then I got into competitive kayak/canoe racing after the scout program.” Walt has been involved with the competition aspect of the sport at the international level with an eye at helping area and regional athletes to the Olympics in 1992. “Next year the United States is hosting the first World Championships ever for this sport in this country. And that’s going to be in Western Maryland,” Witucki said. “I’m currently serving as the technical director for competition for that event. Our sport has just been designated again as an Olympic event in 1992, so we expect to have next year’s World’s the most heavily attended ever.” Witucki believes that more people are also canoeing and kayaking recreationally because of the current health and fitness craze that has swept the country. “The recreation aspect of the sport has really grown because of that and what we’re trying to do as a competition sport is to tap into that and not only provide youngsters the opportunity to become good competitors,” Witucki said, “but also to have strong and safe canoeing skills that they can pass on later on. It’s a good carry-over family sport.”
1994 - Dave Mason
Dave Mason is a past commodore of the ACA who has been a member for over 30 years. This guy bleeds ACA through and through and always finds a way to lighten the mood. Getting started: My parents sent me off to a summer camp, Camp High Rocks, where I fell in love with canoeing. When I graduated from high school, my father bought me my first canoe. That was a big mistake. I chose Sewanee because it was located in the Tennessee mountains near good white water. Reaction to induction into the American Canoe Association Paddlesport Hall of Fame: “I was honored and flattered. I was honored that the ‘higher ups’ had noticed the years of training, racing and instructing that I’d done, along with serving on the boards of all the national governing bodies. To now have my name alongside some of the ‘who’s who’ in the U.S. paddling world is very moving.”
1993 - Betty Metzler
1993 - Andy Toro
Andy Toro has competed in four Olympic Games for two countries, Hungary and the United States, with a Bronze in canoeing at his first Games in 1960. After competing in his last Olympic Games as an athlete, however‚ Toro’s involvement in the Olympic movement continued. He was coach of the U.S. National and Olympic Kayaking and Canoeing team for four years and authored “Canoeing: An Olympic Sport,” a standard reference book on Olympic canoeing. Toro also donated his time as a volunteer sports administrator to both national and international sports federations. He was Secretary of the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1984-1988, director of the International Canoe Federation‚ and a member of the USOC Board of Directors since 1976. Toro was awarded the Olympic Torch Award for Outstanding Service in 1989 by the USOC, and recognized with a Lifetime of Outstanding Service Award from U.S. Canoeing in 1986.
1993 - Tom Foster
50+ years teaching whitewater paddling. First formal teaching in 1953. 2005: American Canoe Association (ACA) Legend of Paddling Award. 2004: ACA’s Councilor’s Roundtable. 2004: ACA President’s Award for outstanding contributions to paddlesport. 2000: Honored as one of the top 100 contributors to paddlesport during the 20th Century. All honorees were published in Paddler Magazine. 2005 – present: Working with the Venture Center at Plymouth State University. 2005: New DVD on Solo Whitewater Canoeing…two hours with animations and demonstrations on flatwater and whitewater. 1995: Co-authored the instructional whitewater text “Catch Every Eddy…Surf Every Wave”.1991: Produced a two-hour instruction video entitled “Whitewater Bound” showing whitewater maneuvers on flatwater which must be mastered and then transferred to whitewater.1978 – present: Head Instructor Trainer for over 100 Whitewater Instructor Workshops, and numerous Instructor Trainer and Instructor Updates. These workshops were in Whitewater Canoeing and/or Kayaking. 1985: Developed diagrams, illustrations and the chapter on strokes in the ACA’s Instruction Manual (known as the Red Book authored by Laurie Gullion).1985 – present: Authored several articles on whitewater paddling published in various magazines.1982- 1991: Elected as Chairperson of the National Instruction Committee (now the Safety, Education and Instruction Council) During these years traveled throughout the country conducting between 8 and 12 whitewater certification workshops per year.1978: Authored an instructional text on open canoeing entitled “Recreational Whitewater Canoeing”.1982: Authored a revised edition of the above book.1966- 1980: Taught whitewater tandem canoeing at Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA.1966- 1976: Staff member at American Red Cross Aquatic School in Brookline, NH. Taught canoeing and sailing. A Red Cross Instructor Trainer in Canoeing, Sailing, Rowing, Water Safety and First Aid.1953- 1956: Waterfront staff at Boy Scout Camp Norse, Plymouth, MA Director in ‘55 and ‘56. 1990 to 1994: Working with Jim Henry, designed the following Mad River Canoes: Rampage, Synergy and the popular Outrage.1995 – 2002: Along with my open canoe racing partner, Ray McLain, founded and managed Costa Rica Rios, an adventure travel business focused on guided trips in whitewater canoeing and kayaking. Located in Turrialba, CR.1982- 1995: Founder and Director of the paddling school known as The Outdoor Centre of New England. Served 500 students during the last several years of operation. Closed after the ’95 season.1998 – 2000: Conducted formal races for the world class paddlers who were winter training in Costa Rica.1995 – present: Guiding rafting and canoeing trips down class 3/4 rivers in Costa Rica. 1983- 1990: Participated in the Open Boat Slalom Nationals both as a solo competitor and tandem with Ray McLain.