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FWC names boating safety educator of the year

News Release

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Media contact: Katie Purcell, 850-459-6585

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has selected Henry Cespedes of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary’s Flotilla 67 in Coral Gables as Florida’s 2013 Boating Educator of the Year.

The award recognizes those in the boating education field who go above and beyond their job by volunteering to engage new and current boaters, raise awareness and make boating education initiatives relevant, thorough and exciting.

“All of the nominees demonstrated an outstanding commitment to boating safety,” said Capt. Tom Shipp, leader of the FWC’s boating safety unit. “But we were particularly impressed with the time Henry spent volunteering and the number of boaters he reached.”

In Orlando on Sept. 28, FWC boating safety staff presented Cespedes with the award at the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary’s District 7 annual conference.

Cespedes has been a dedicated boating safety instructor for over 15 years, teaching courses in both English and Spanish.

With the high number of boaters in the area, boating safety is of paramount importance. Also, many of the boaters are primarily Spanish speakers.

“In addition to teaching and coordinating classes in English, Henry provides them in Spanish as well,” Shipp said. “Many of the students may speak English but are more comfortable learning in Spanish. This has been valuable in creating an effective learning environment and safer boaters on the water.”

Henry Cespedes (center) is Florida's Boating Educator of the Year. L-R: Capt. Tom Shipp (FWC), Brian Rehwinkel (FWC), award recipient Henry Cespedes, Capt. Thomas F. Boross (Chief of Auxiliary and Boating Safety, U.S. Coast Guard), Major Richard Moore (FWC)

In addition to his full-time job and family responsibilities, Cespedes volunteered 22 of his Saturdays in 2012 to teach boating safety classes and perform other volunteer boating safety duties with the Coast Guard Auxiliary, reaching over 600 boaters. Those days often had him busy from 6:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., but he still found time to forward the data to the FWC so the students could receive their Boating Safety Education Identification cards in a timely manner.

“Henry provides a valuable service to the recreational boating community in Miami and beyond,” Shipp said. “His passion for boating safety education and the impact he has made in the southeast Florida area – one of the busiest recreational boating areas in the world – has undoubtedly made the waterways safer.”

Cespedes was also named the Regional Boating Educator for the southern states by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA). This was the first time a Florida educator has received this award. He was honored in September at the 2013 NASBLA conference in Boise, Idaho.

FWC Facts:
Florida ranks second in the nation for the number of residents who take trips to view wildlife. (1.4 million)

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