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SWR Conference Presenters - 2017
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The Who's Who of the 2017 ACA SWR Conference Instruction Team


The following presenters will be teaching at the 2017 SWR Conference.  Keep an eye out as several more may be added in the weeks to come.


Mike MatherMike Mather

After 28 years on and in the water, Mike Mather is one of the more experienced and entertaining rescue professionals in the industry. As a Rescue 3 International and American Canoe Association Instructor Trainer he has taught technical rescue courses all over the U.S. and Europe in Swiftwater, Boat Operations, PWC, and Technical Rope. Mike is known to often have an unconventional approach to these topics and he excels at keeping them clear, accessible and applicable for military, rescue professionals, experienced boaters and novices alike





Aaron PeelerImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor, water and nature

Owner of H2O Rescue, Aaron designs and sells progressive water rescue gear. 

Aaron is also the Outdoor School Director at the U.S. National Whitewater Center

where he developed the swiftwater rescue and guide training programs . 

Aaron grew up on the river where he found his lifetime passion for

guiding, paddling, gear design and teaching.  Aaron has worked for

commercial outfitters for the past 20 years guiding customers, training and

managing staff.  Aaron spends most his year training fire departments,

rescue squads, military teams, and paddlers from all over the world in a

variety of swiftwater and raft based rescue courses.  Aaron also runs water safety for major motion pictures and TV shows.  Aaron holds ACA Instructor Trainer certifications in  Swiftwater Rescue (Level 5) and Rafting (Level 4).  



Sam FowlkesSam Fowlkes

Sam Fowlkes has been a leader in paddlesport for over 30 years. His involvement with the American Canoe Association began in 1977 when certified as a whitewater kayak instructor while working at Nantahala Outdoor Center as a guide and instructor. He has been an ACA whitewater canoe Instructor Trainer since 1981. He is presently an Instructor Trainer Educator in Level 5 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue and Level 4 Whitewater Canoe for the ACA. In addition Sam is an Instructor Trainer for Rescue 3 International and a NOLS Wilderness EMT. For the last 20 years his focus has been on swiftwater rescue instruction and instructor trainer training. Sam’s interests lie in innovative instruction and in making rescue techniques adaptable and relevant to paddlers. Advanced mechanical advantage systems are one of his rescue specialties.


Sam’s other ACA leadership positions include: 12 years as Dixie Division Divisional Instruction Facilitator, 4 years as SEIC Vice Chair and Chair.  He is currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the ACA.


In higher education for 30 years, Sam is on the adjunct teaching faculty of Western Carolina University schooling students in water-based sports education. He takes a special interest in providing a multi-level educational experience. Providing professional level training for colleges, universities, outfitters, summer camps and clubs for 30 years.


He also enjoys rowing an oar rig, stand up paddle boarding and  canoeing with his Newfoundland dog “Lexi.’


Jim Coffey

Jim Coffey

Jim is the mastermind behind the extremely popular and informative

Rescue for River Runners video series. He is the founder of

Espirit Whitewater Worldwide. Since 1984, Jim has been leading expeditions,training guides, and teaching kayaking, first aid, river rescue and ecological awareness throughout Canada, Mexico, South American, Central America,India, Italy, Africa, Asia and Australia. In addition, he competed in the World Cup in both C-1 and C-2 and is a four-time captain of Canada's World Rafting Championship team. He's also been known to huck 30 and 40 footers in his open canoe!





Julie MungerImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor

Besides being a Level 5 ACA Swiftwater Rescue Instructor, Julie is the CEO and co-founder of Sierra Rescue International, as well as the Western Regional Director for Rescue 3. As a co-author of the Whitewater and River Rescue Field Guide and the River Rescue Workbook, she has been instrumental in developing a certified river rescue program that is recognized

worldwide.  In addition to being Rescue 3 International Instructor of year, Julie is an internationally acclaimed white water professional, and was a member of the US Women’s Rafting Team from 1985-2001.  A graduate of UC Davis, as well as the University of Central Lancashire in Technical Rescue Instruction, she has been a passionate swiftwater and technical rescue instructor for over 25 years.  Julie’s lifetime accomplishments include many first raft descents, the first self-support river board trip down the Grand Canyon, and being a co-owner of Arctic River Journeys.  She has been featured in such magazines as Outside, Paddler, American Whitewater and Canoe and Kayak, as well as various exploratory documentaries. Julie was most recently inducted into the 2017 International Whitewater Hall of Fame in the Explorer category.



Tom BurroughsImage may contain: 1 person, beard, hat, outdoor and nature

Director, Ozark Safety and Rescue Educators-

Nationally recognized for his instructional work, Tom Burroughs has been teaching wilderness medicine and swiftwater rescue courses nationwide since 2005 . From his start in emergency services in 1990, through his current position as Team Leader of The Washington Co. AR Search and Rescue team, his focus on technical skills and rescue techniques has been a lifetime passion. As a NREMT, EMT-W, MPIC, he provides safety and medical support on international multi-day expeditions and whitewater racing events. Tom is an ACA L-4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor Trainer and an L-5 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer, and currently heads the ACA's NFPA Swiftwater Rescue Curriculum development team. He is also an Instructor for the National Cave Rescue Commission and helped originate the Small Party Assisted Rescue Curriculum. Tom's programs employ an experiential teaching style that keeps folks interested and involved.



Dave Kessmann

Dave has been involved in paddlesports education since 2002 when he began assisting with Swift Water Rescue courses. He has since gone on to become certified by the ACA in both Kayaking (L5 IT / L4 ITE) and Swift Water Rescue (L4 IT).

Based out of Lynchburg, VA and Friendsville, MD, Dave teaches primarily in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic but has offered courses in the Northeast and West Coast as well. 


Ty TuffImage may contain: 1 person, standing, outdoor and nature

Ty Tuff is a Ph.D. scientist working to connect science and nature using the powerful tools of education and recreation. His parents were ski instructors that brought him into outdoor education early and that early exposure has guided much of his career.Ty started teaching skiing in middle and high school before moving to Boulder, CO where he started teaching ACA kayak and swiftwater rescue in 2002. He shifted to teaching ACA instructor certification courses at the same time he started graduate school and has spent the last decade hosting instructor certification classes with Renaissance Adventure Guides ( or travelling to beautiful locations around the country to certify instructors for more remote outfitters. Ty specializes in small group rescue and is most familiar with steep/rocky rivers. He currently spends most of his teaching effort helping small businesses and outdoor startups launch and maintain their own ACA rescue and kayak instructional services. Find out more at: 



Travis ReidImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor

Travis Reid has been in rescue services for over 20 years from both an agency level (Alaska Firefighter / EMS / SAR) and a recreational outfitter/guide perspective.  With experience guiding and training rescue techniques internationally to training in the U.S., Travis has trained Firefighters, Search & Rescue Teams, Emergency Response Teams, Special Forces, Water Researchers and Outfitters and Guides in the technical rescue disciplines of water and rope rescue.  He most recently returned from training firefighters in Nicaragua in modern rescue techniques.


Travis is the Lead Instructor and Founder of Oregon Rescue LLC.  Oregon Rescue provides professional safety and rescue training programs in Water Rescue, Rope Rescue, Wilderness First Responder, CPR & First Aid and Rescue Boat Operations.  Travis is also actively involved in the outdoors as co-owner of an adventure company, RiverStone Adventures.  His passion for helping people get outdoors to play and be safe is contagious.



Marcel BiegImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, beard, selfie, closeup and outdoor

Marcel has been instructing and guiding for over 20 years from Alaska to the Florida Keys. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Marcel holds a M.S. in Ex.Ed. from Minnesota State University, Mankato along with Several Instructor Certifications from the AMGA, ACA, AIARE, LNT, ACCT, PSIA ext...  Marcel has a wide range of experience in the outdoor field and has been employed in several outdoor professions including Higher Education, U.S. Military, K12 and Expedition Education. Marcel is also part of several non-profit organizations that focus on Resource Protection and Outdoor Education. He holds numerous ACA certifications, including Instructor Trainer Educator in Whitewater Rafting and Instructor Trainer certification in both SWR and Whitewater Kayaking.  He is also a certified Instructor in SUP, Surf Kayak, Coastal Kayak, and holds the Adaptive Paddling Endorsement.



Charles DuffyImage may contain: one or more people, outdoor, nature and water

ACA Safety & Rescue IT Level 4

ACA River Kayak Instructor Level 4

Former ACA/SEIC Executive Committee - Secretary

Boating since 1979

Instruction Committee Chair Canoe Cruisers Association

Former Instruction Committee Chair (and President) Baltimore Kayak & Canoe Club

Team River Runner Instruction Lead - Multiple Chapters

more Event Calendar

6/22/2018 » 6/24/2018
ICF Canoe Slalom World Cup 1

6/29/2018 » 7/1/2018
ICF Slalom World Cup #2

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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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