Huron Pines AmeriCorps: Elective Training Nets 8 New Kayak Instructors

Submitted by Leah Higgins, the Huron Pines AmeriCorps member serving the Michigan Department of Natural Resources at Ralph A. MacMullan Center, Roscommon.

Wherever you are in Michigan, you are never more than six miles away from a body of water. With so many accessible bodies of water to learn about and explore, eight Huron Pines AmeriCorps members are doing their part to make on the water outdoor education safe and possible for students of all ages.

On a misty day in June, the group of Huron Pines AmeriCorps members met at the DNR’s Ralph A. MacMullan Center bright and early to attend the Huron Pines AmeriCorps elective training, “Become a Level 1 Kayaking Instructor.” The training took place over the course of two days and was delivered by Michael and Lisa Gray of Uncommon Adventures in Benzonia. Huron Pines AmeriCorps members spent time on the shores of Higgins Lake expanding their outdoor education toolkit and learning how to safely deliver kayak programs on the water.

To achieve this certification, the members taught various paddle strokes, crafted interactive presentations, discerned student learning, provided peer feedback, advanced their outdoor classroom management skills and acquired the safety knowledge necessary to teach kayaking on the water. To conclude the training, every participant was awarded a Level 1 kayaking instructor certification with the American Canoe Association. This four-year, international certification demonstrates an ability to teach Level 1 paddling skills on “flatwater” or calm inland lakes.

Allyson Lance, a Huron Pines AmeriCorps member with the U.S. Forest Service, is excited to take friends and family out on the water, and aims to use her certification after her AmeriCorps service term ends. Katie Spengler, serving with the DNR in Traverse City, intends to offer Level 1 paddling skills courses at the Ralph A. MacMullan Center and surrounding areas along with Leah Higgins.

This training and this certification would not be possible without the support of the Michigan Alliance of Environmental and Outdoor Education (MAEOE). MAEOE is dedicated to supporting, inspiring, and empowering individuals with a passion for environmental and outdoor education. MAEOE was recently acknowledged internationally for its noteworthy Environmental Educator Certification program, which allows new educators and career professionals to set personal and professional goals to improve Michigan’s environmental education. The certification workshop delivered by Uncommon Adventures in June supports MAEOE’s goals by expanding the skills and confidence of up-and-coming environmental educators.

Eight newly-minted Level 1 kayaking Instructors (l-r), back row: Mirabai Moseley, Allyson Lance, Marta Springer and Katie Spengler; front row: Nathan Hilbrands, Leah Higgins, MaKayla Plekes and Brittany Tillman. They are flanked by Uncommon Adventures owners Michael and Lisa Gray.

This program was made possible by support from MAEOE, Project Learning Tree, Huron Pines
AmeriCorps, and in-kind support from the DNR’s Ralph A. MacMullan Center. To stay up to date on
activities coming to the Ralph A. MacMullan Center bookmark the RAM’s Activities and Events page.

Huron Pines is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1973 to conserve and enhance Northern
Michigan’s natural resources to ensure healthy water, protected places and vibrant communities. With
offices in Gaylord and Alpena, Huron Pines strives to improve economic, environmental, educational and
recreational opportunities throughout Northern Michigan.

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