2019 Western Region Educator of the Year Award Winner

By Taylor Matsko posted 07-26-2019 02:37 PM

2019 Western Region Educator of the Year Award Winner
Lieutenant Jesse Gehrt, of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), has been named the 2019 Western Region Educator of the Year.

Lt. Jesse Gehrt began his career with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism in 2005. In 2015, Gehrt was selected for one of the Boating Specialist positions in the northeastern portion of the state and in 2017 he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant.
Lt. Jesse GehrtFor several years, Gehrt’s assigned duty area included Milford Reservoir, the largest federal reservoir in Kansas, encompassing 15,700 surface acres of water and 163 miles of shoreline. The reservoir, which is bordered by Fort Riley, recorded the highest annual number of boating incidents in the state and between one and three fatalities per year. This high rate of incidents has been partly attributed to the fact that Fort Riley ran its own marina at the base where soldiers were renting vessels without any prior education or boating experience. These soldiers frequently used alcohol on their voyages, until Lt. Gehrt began to address the situation.

Lt. Gehrt focused on addressing this situation through partnerships with the Fort Riley marina staff. With the help of his state Boating Law Administrator and Boating Education Coordinator, Lt. Gehrt successfully developed boating safety programs throughout his district. This initiative later evolved into educational requirements for soldiers to rent vessels from the base marina, yearly safety presentations to base personnel, and the inclusion of boating safety programs into the schools that the soldiers' family members attend. Gehrt’s diligence and focus on this matter has reduced the reservoir’s fatality rate from one to three per year to a total of three over the last 12 years.

Lt. Gehrt’s unique ability to communicate with water safety advocates led to the incorporation of the NASBLA-Approved Boating Safety Education Course as a part of the course curriculum for the Park Management and Resource degree from Kansas State University. Gehrt teaches hourly segments of this course throughout the semester to ensure that this requirement is met.

Lt. Gehrt is also sought after for his instruction for KDWPT law enforcement staff and other agencies as well. Lt. Gehrt is a NASBLA certified instructor for courses in BUI Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and Seated Battery, KDWPT’s Airboat and Vessel Operation , Side Scan Sonar , Officer Water Survival and more. Additionally, Lt. Gehrt serves as one of the few Boating Education Regional Coordinators in Kansas.

Lt. Gehrt’s focus, drive and experience in educating the boating public makes him a valuable asset to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the recreational boating community. Congratulations Lt. Jesse Gehrt!

Generously sponsored by Fresh Air Educators, and Kalkomey Enterprises, Inc., the Boating Educator of the Year Award was launched by NASBLA in 2011 to recognize those who go above to engage students and boaters, raise awareness, and make boating education initiatives relevant, thorough and exciting.

The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators is a national nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization that works to develop public policy for recreational boating safety. NASBLA represents the recreational boating authorities of all 50 states and the U.S. territories. We offer a variety of resources, including training, model acts, education standards, publications and more. Through a national network of thousands of professional educators, law enforcement officers and volunteers, we affect the lives of over 76 million American boaters.