Written to the Mr. Robert Duncan, Executive Director, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by NASBLA on behalf of NASBLA membership.
January 28, 2019
Dear Mr. Duncan,
On behalf of the membership of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA), I am writing to thank you and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) for the extraordinary leadership exhibited by Mr. Thomas E. Guess, who recently completed the year as NASBLA President. While serving as Virginia’s Boating Law Administrator as well as through multiple governance roles within NASBLA, Mr. Guess has continued to distinguish himself and the VDGIF as national leaders in recreational boating safety (RBS) and boating law enforcement.
Under Mr. Guess’s year at the helm, NASBLA experienced significant success both in advancing national policy issues as well as in building and strengthening the Association’s internal capacity and capabilities. With respect to the latter, Mr. Guess oversaw a yearlong, top-to-bottom strategic review of the Association, culminating in a four-year strategic plan to guide the organization’s agenda and programs. This member-driven initiative succeeded in large measure thanks to the hands-on participation of Mr. Guess and the Executive Board.
As a graduate of NASBLA’s annual Leadership Academy himself, Mr. Guess is now part of the Academy’s senior teaching faculty where he brings his decades of leadership experience in the agency and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to bear in the classroom. Guess has modeled the leadership principles and characteristics he teaches through his real-world efforts to restore and strengthen vital relations between NASBLA and the USCG Boating Safety Division. As a result, the federal-state partnership in recreational boating safety has never been stronger.
Throughout his tenure as a Boating Law Administrator and as a national RBS thought leader, Mr. Guess has championed the value of national standards as a key element of achieving uniformity in education and enforcement nationwide. Under his watch, NASBLA earned reaccreditation as a prestigious, American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standards Developer, and also succeeded in adopting ANSI/NASBLA 103.1-2018: Supplement – Basic Boating Knowledge: Water-Jet Propelled Boats. These standards provide the framework for the growth and development of boating safety curricula and courses over the next decade.
Thanks to NASBLA’s commitment to greater national uniformity in boating safety rules and requirements, last year the Association realized unprecedented progress in advancing state-to-state reciprocity in boater education. Now, adult boaters operating as visiting boaters in virtually every state in the nation enjoy nearly universal reciprocity with their home-state’s boater education rules. These policy advancements reduce barriers to recreational boating and make it easier for boaters to go boating on waterways anywhere in the United States.
NASBLA’s commitment to boating law enforcement and training for boating officers saw an upswing last year under Mr. Guess’s oversight, as the association moved to adopt a national training course and curriculum for Personal Watercraft (PWC) Operation for Law Enforcement. Under development for more than three years, this new course provides a standardized approach to utilizing PWC’s in targeted boating law enforcement nationwide.
In 2018, through NASBLA’s ongoing partnership with the USCG Office of Boat Forces, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced new improvements to the maritime resource management component of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) to strengthen the interoperability and effectiveness of mutual aid. This is a tremendous step forward as States - first responders - will be better able to deliver the right personnel and the right equipment to aid their neighbors during emergencies and disasters.
Under Tom Guess’s leadership and personal participation, NASBLA continued to advance it’s national alcohol and drug mitigation strategies as the Association moved closer to aligning its new “seated” battery of standardize field sobriety tests (SFSTs) with the traditional SFSTs developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA). In a historical first, last year Tom Guess personally hosted a meeting at the VDGIF Headquarters including representatives of NASBLA, NHTSA, the U.S. Coast Guard, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National District Attorneys Association to open dialogue on the need for a shared national standard for a seated battery of SFSTs.
Finally, 2018 was a seminal year for professional development in NASBLA, as the Association launched a long-awaited, national credentialing program for boating safety professionals. Formally titled the Certified Recreational Boating Professional program, or CRBP, this exciting new credentialing initiative symbolizes an emerging, dynamic profession that has come of age. Representing the cumulative career and work experiences of thousands of individuals, the CRBP provides an avenue for recognizing and rewarding qualified recreational boating professionals through a multi-disciplinary credentialing program.
Thanks to the noteworthy achievements accomplished under his leadership, NASBLA remains indebted to Mr. Guess and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for his contributions, not only as NASBLA President in 2018, but also as Executive Board member and committee chair. Mr. Guess is an exceptional leader in the RBS community and a distinguished ambassador both for your agency and the Commonwealth of Virginia.
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