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2019 ACA National Award Winners Announced!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kelsey Bracewell
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The 2019 Excellence in Instruction recipient is Ashley Brown: Ashley is one of nine female ACA L5 AOWCK Instructors in the world! She builds paddlers and instructors at the College of Charleston using the ACA models of progression as a backbone for the development of both paddling and environmental stewardship programs at the College. Students from academic majors as diverse as education to economics to biochemistry and physics have benefitted from her passion. She is building a diverse field of future professionals who now have an appreciation for paddling and its place in the world. You’ll also find Ashley at many regional & national professional paddling summits and symposiums that bring value to the world of paddling and help reach those who haven’t yet discovered the joys and benefits of paddling. Ashley's total commitment, incredible skill, contagious passion, and positive disposition make her a prime and deserving candidate for the ACA Excellence in Instruction Award. Congratulations, Ashley!



The 2019 recipient of the Joe Pina Volunteer of the Year award is John Traendly! John is the current Secretary of the Safety Education & Instruction Council; he has stepped up in a significant way to donate an immense amount of time and expertise to create a custom course management system to better help the ACA and all Instructors, Trainers, and Educators. We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated person willing not only to put so much time and energy to advance the organization using his incredibly valuable knowledge and skills, but to also collaborate with and use the input of many other stakeholders. John asks for no recognition and turns down opportunities to be recognized or passes the credit on to others. This type of selflessness is a rarity and we are so fortunate to have someone of his caliber and nature be willing to serve. John is also the largest contributor to the development execution of the 2019 IT Conference event. We wouldn’t have been successful without him! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you John!



The 2019 J. Henry Rushton Award for Organizational Excellence is the Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley! The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley provides paddlesport and sailing instruction to underserved, inner-city youth. The Club brings youth from East Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley to the ocean and waterways where they use kayaks, SUPs, sailboats, and dragon boats. Youth come from five sites located in Monterey Park, La Puente, Baldwin Park and three public housing developments in the region. Many of the members are the most vulnerable youth in the city, subject to gang activities, unstable homes, and extreme poverty. The Boys & Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley makes paddlesports available to these populations of at-risk youth who would not otherwise participate in these activities. Thank you, B&G Club of West San Gabriel Valley for making a difference in the lives of these young paddlers!



The 2019 Green Paddle for Waterway Conservation recipient is the Canoe Cruisers Association! In May 2019, CCA made news around the world: After a two year legal battle, they were successful in compelling the U.S. Coast Guard to provide reliable, predictable, and continuous access to the Potomac River waterways around the privately-owned, members-only Trump National Golf Club. Whenever the president was present at the property, access to a highly popular section of the river was closed with little to no warning. Their lawsuit and victory were covered in the Washington Post, New York Times, AP, USA Today, Bloomberg, Stars and Stripes, Outside Magazine, Canoe & Kayak, and local papers in almost every state. In addition to ongoing efforts to protect the Potomac and other local waterways, CCA members lead several river trips each week, conduct low-cost kayak and canoe classes, promote river safety training, and coordinate regular river cleanups and conservation events. It is also notable that CCA has hosted the annual Potomac Downriver Race since 1956, making it the nation’s second longest, continuously run river race. We are proud of you, CCA!



The 2019 Recipient of the Sanctioned Event of the Year award is the Carolina Canoe Club & their annual event, Week Of Rivers!

The Carolina Canoe Club is a non-profit club devoted to promoting recreational paddling in the Carolinas and southeastern United States. Currently their 1,100+ members use canoes, kayaks, and inflatables to frequent flat and whitewater rivers, lakes and coastal areas, engage in environmental stewardship initiatives and host safety and skills training classes. Carolina Canoe Club's Week of Rivers 2019 and 50th Anniversary Celebration brought over 400 paddlers together from all over the country to participate in an event that captured the spirit of the greater paddling community: Education, Conservation, Community Service, Fellowship, and Friendly Competition. We're proud to call you one of our Paddle America Clubs, CCC!



The 2019 Recipient of the Havens Leadership Award is National Sprint Team Coach, Aaron Huston! Aaron is the US National Sprint Team Coach, as well as the high performance coach for the Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Racing Team based in Washington. He has served the ACA in many major ways; most recently by bringing a group of 35 young sprint paddlers to the Olympic Hopes Regatta in Bratislava, Slovakia: a high quality international competition experience which helps those athletes 17 and younger with Olympic dreams to set stepping stones to Jr. World Championships and beyond. He’s also played a big role in supporting ACA Sprint Athletes who have gained great success this year– such as 2019 Canoe Sprint World Champion, Nevin Harrison.


Several generations of Havens' family competed in the Olympic Games and won medals for the American team in canoeing. During all of their Olympic careers, the ACA was the Olympic governing body for canoeing and was responsible for training and preparing canoeists competing on behalf of the United States. The Havens family instituted this award to reward individuals whose practices and behaviors best serve the interests and success of USA paddlesports athletes.



We'd like to take the opportunity to recognize all ACA Instructor Trainers & Educators as the collective recipients of the 2019 President's Award!

Instructor Trainers & Educators are the gatekeepers of the ACA's national and international education programs; creators of instructors, the front lines and resources for the general paddling public, advocates for paddling everywhere, and the true heart and life of the ACA.

We love you forever, ITs and ITEs!



We'd also like to recognize 2019 President's Award recipient, Sam Fowlkes! Sam Fowlkes became a certified ACA instructor 40 years ago and soon stood out as a leader in the field. Over the years, his overarching goal has been to“make the world a better place to paddle.” To that end, Fowlkes has shaped curricula, helped develop programs, mentored instructors, and reached thousands of paddlers through his courses. “Sam Fowlkes has been a mentor, friend, co-instructor for over 20 years. He has an undying devotion to paddlesports education, safety, new ideas and the tedious work of multiple ACA committees,” said Landmark Learning Executive Director Justin S. Padgett, M.S., paramedic, WEMT. “Sam has an
uncommon level of patience and persistence that has really helped all of us grow and strengthen the national pool of paddlesport educators across the U.S.,” Padgett added.


Sam exemplifies unwavering dedication towards providing the highest quality both in his personal paddlesports instruction as well as in the national policies and curriculum he has helped develop. His years of commitment to the Safety Education & Instruction Council have helped shape the ACA’s National Paddlesports Instruction Program for years to come.

ACA Mission

Founded in 1880, The American Canoe Association (ACA) is a national nonprofit organization serving the broader paddling public by providing education related to all aspects of paddling, stewardship support to help protect paddling environments, and sanctioning of programs and events to promote paddlesport competition, exploration, and recreation.

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