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Safety Education & Instruction Council (SEIC)

The Safety Education & Instruction Council is an advisory group to the Board of Directors of the ACA and meets twice a calendar year. This council is made up of volunteers who possess broad experience in the various disciplines of paddling and who are passionate about the sport. All ACA instructors are defacto members of the council.


SEIC Mission Statement

The Safety Education and Instruction Council's (SEIC) mission is to develop and implement effective paddlesports safety, education and instructional programs and materials that inform, train and serve the public at all skill levels and in all aspects of paddlesports.  The SEIC shall represent the interests of member ACA National Discipline Committees to the ACA National Board of Directors.

The Council is coordinated by an Executive Committee:

  • Chair: Trey Knight (Florida)
  • Vice Chair: Josh Hall (South Carolina)
  • Secretary: John Traendly (Georgia)
  • Past Chair: Steve Hutton (South Carolina)

The Executive committee also serves as the SEIC Standards Committee. The Standards Committee hears requests for exceptions to policy, approves appointment of Instructor Trainers, and hears challenges and grievances. The Council and its discipline committees are responsible for curriculum development and implementation of ACA programs.


SEIC Resources:

  • SEIC Policy Manual (PDF) (02-23-2020)
  • SEIC Operating Procedures (PDF(3-3-2019)
  • SEIC Robert's Rules of Order (PDF)
  • SEIC Policy Waiver Request (Online)
  • Pay your SEIC Dues - For ACA Certified Instructors (online)


SEIC Contact Info:

Upcoming SEIC & Committee Meetings:

SEIC Meeting Minutes


In 1973, under ACA Commodore Gail Cowart, the Canoe Instruction Certification Committee was formed. In 1977 the name was changed to Training Committee.  At some point in the 1980's, under Tom Foster, it was renamed the National Instruction Committee.  Under Charlie Wilson's leadership, the name was changed to its current title, Safety Education & Instruction Council.


Past Chairs:


2019 - present: Trey Knight

Trey has been in the water since he could walk, growing up of the coast of GA, he spent most of his time growing up in the rivers or ocean.  During college Trey discovered whitewater and mountain sports and has never looked back. Trey has spent time as a kayak instructor, raft guide, camp director, commercial outfitter, instructor trainer, and educator.  During college and over the next 10 years you could find Trey paddling rivers throughout the southeast, mid-Atlantic, Colorado and Montana as he pursued his career of a professional outdoor educator and administrator.  In 2010, he discovered whitewater stand up paddleboard. This was the perfect melding of his childhood love of board sports and whitewater kayaking. Since then he has devoted much of his time and energy to developing techniques, teaching methods, and boards specifically for whitewater stand up. Trey currently hold certifications from the American Canoe Association (ACA) as a Level 5 Advanced Whitewater SUP Instructor Trainer Educator, Level 4 Whitewater Paddle Raft Instructor Trainer, and Level 5 Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor.  Trey also serves as the Chair of the ACA’s Safety, Education, & Instruction Council, and is the Past Chair of the ACA SUP Committee. In his day job Trey directs the Outdoor Adventure Program at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. He serves on the Rec Sports Department Risk Management Committee, the Division of Student Life Professional Development Committee, the Vol Well Committee and other department ad hoc committees for training and education. Trey worked with the UT Knoxville Department of Experience Learning in developing their risk management handbook for faculty and staff. Trey has presented on education, management, risk management and leadership at both national and regional conferences and summits, to include conferences for the Association of Outdoor Recreation & Education, American Camp Association, International Boating & Water Safety Summit, and more. Trey paddles for Badfish SUP, is an Immersion Research regional team member, and an ambassador for Hawaii Surf Co. 


Steve Hutton

2013 - 2018: Steve Hutton

For 25 years, paddling canoes and kayaks has been both passion and profession for Steve Hutton. He began teaching paddlesport in 1988, and over the years has shared his love of all things water with students and Instructor Candidates, as well as his two young sons. Steve is the Director of Recreation for Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission in Charleston, South Carolina. He served for many years on the Board of Directors and as President of the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education, and received their Jim Rennie Leadership Award. Currently, Steve is an ACA Instructor Trainer Educator for Coastal Kayaking and Essentials of Canoe Touring, and is the Chair of the ACA's Safety Education and Instruction Council.





Robin Pope

2007 - 2012: Robin Pope 

Robin presided as the President of the ACA Board of Directors and was the chair of the Safety Education & Instruction Council. He is a Level 5: Advanced Swiftwater Rescue Instructor Trainer Educator and a Level 5: Advanced Whitewater Kayaking Instructor Trainer Educator. In addition to his Board and SEIC responsibilities, Robin volunteers a significant amount of time teaching a range of paddlesport courses. He is an active and long time member of the Carolina Canoe Club and resides in western North Carolina where he is teaching his son the art of kayaking.








Sam Fowlkes2004 - 2007: Sam Fowlkes 

Sam has been involved in paddlesport for 35 years. His connection with the American Canoe Association began in 1977 when he certified as an ACA Whitewater Kayak Instructor while working at the 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 Swiftwater Rescue and Whitewater Canoe for the ACA. For the last 10 years his focus has been on swiftwater rescue instruction and instructor training. Sam's interests lie in making rescue techniques adaptable and relevant to paddlers. Sam has also been on the teaching faculty of Western Carolina University for the past eleven years schooling students in water-based sports education. Sam's other ACA leadership positions include: 12 years as Dixie Division Divisional Instruction Facilitator, 4 years as SEIC Vice Chair (1996-2000). He served as Chair of the Safety, Education and Instruction Council from 2004-2007 and is a 5-year member of the Board of Directors of the ACA. In addition to receiving the Excellence in Instruction Award in 2005, he was a recipient of the ACA Joe Pena Volunteer of the Year Award in 2002. Sam is also a Rescue 3 International Instructor Trainer, a WMI WFR and a NC EMT-B. Sam gives special attention to providing a multi-level educational experience. Providing professional level training for colleges, universities, agencies, outfitters, summer camps and clubs for 30 years.



Kent Ford2001 - 2003: Kent Ford 

"One of the most influential paddlers in whitewater sport.”

Kent Ford's unique background includes thirty years of teaching paddling, international whitewater slalom racing, winning world titles, coaching for the U.S. Kayak Team, and working as public address announcer at the last five Olympic Games. Now Kent focuses on teaching recreational boating to a worldwide audience through his company Performance Video. His twenty videos and books have influenced the education of half a million paddlers and have made him one of the most recognized paddlers in whitewater sport worldwide. Best of all, Kent's teaching style is enthusiastic, supportive, and open-minded. As an ACA Instructor Trainer, Kent has led programs at most major U.S. paddle schools, as well as in Switzerland, Canada, and Japan. A veteran of over 340 rivers in 28 countries, Kent has been a member of expeditions to the Soviet Union, Costa Rica, Turkey, and Mexico. Kent holds a BS. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University and resides in Durango, Colorado. A volunteer member of the City of Durango's water commission, Kent advocates for sustainable water policy. His pro-bono video productions on threats to the Dolores and Animas Rivers helped excite advocacy and protection on their behalf. Other recent projects include organizing the Whitewater Symposium, an industry roundtable supporting the health of paddlesports. Kent was recently inducted to the International Whitewater Hall of Fame. One of his more recent projects was "The Call of the River," a documentary film on the vibrant history of whitewater paddling.

"On the river and off, you would be pressed to find a single individual from the canoe/kayak world that has more positively affected people's participation in the sport. As an ambassador, decorated instructor, announcer, and video producer, he genuinely connects with people from every corner of the paddlesports industry and is always found as a part of any effort that brings the sport together.” Joe Jacobi, Color Analyst, Canoe/Kayak, NBC Olympics





Charlie Wilson1997 - 2000: 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.



1992 - 1996: 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).


Tom Foster


1982 - 1991: 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.


Bunny Johns1979 - 1981: Bunny Johns 

"Paddling takes me to wonderful places, beautiful places. It demands that I be totally there. It's a most fascinating thing for an active mind. To allow me to just focus on the river, how can I play in this moment?”

Bunny Johns is something of the grande dame of paddling in WNC. Originally from Atlanta, GA, she was part of the early Bryson City paddling community, first coming to the area as a camp counselor at Camp Merrie-Woode in Sapphire, NC, a valid outdoor camp for girls, in the early 1960s. In fact, that was her introduction to paddling. She taught swimming at camp, and her students, in turn, taught her to paddle the lake in a canoe. She quickly turned her attention to canoeing, graduating from paddling lakes to whitewater, at that time section 3 of the Chattooga River. Eventually, as she became part of the early community of Nantahala Outdoor Center she took the plunge and moved full-time to Bryson City, working as a manager in the kayak school. "At that time, the philosophy was, everybody did everything; clean rooms, kayak and raft guide, cook. After I burned the trout that got me out of the kitchen.” As a group of serious paddlers, she began racing Open Boat Canoeing at the national level. In 1981, she and Mike Hipsher earned the Gold Medal in "a perfect run” at the 1981 Wildwater Championships at Bala, Wales. She became president (after serving as VP for years) of NOC from 1991-2000. She was on the Olympic Committee, working to bring the Summer Olymics to Atlanta in 1996, even serving as an Olympic official. Bunny has PhD in Plant Physiology from NC State University, and worked as a Research Associate at NCSU while obtaining the degree. Today she runs BunRab Enterprises, primarily working with Duke Energy to rebalance its use of resources. "I do what you need me to do, that I can do,” she says. She also serves on the boards of The Rotary Club of Bryson City (as president), WCQS, West Care Health System and Harris Regional Hospital, and MedWest Health System. She also works with the Little Tennessee Land Trust, helping to conserve the landscape of the upper Little Tennessee and Hiwassee River valleys by protecting private lands from inappropriate development.



Donald Jarrell1977 - 1978: Donald 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.


1972 - 1976: Gail Cowart 

more Event Calendar

The 40th Great Rappahannock Whitewater Canoe Race

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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