Key individuals in each state and territory, in addition to boating law administrators (BLAs), are employed to guide the national Recreational Boating Safety Program. Data proves that many of these individuals are hired with limited recreational boating program knowledge. Many are relatively new to these positions, possessing three to five years’, or less, experience. Below the BLA level, program staff working in states with budget constraints and travel restrictions may have limited opportunities to develop recreational boating expertise in a time-effective manner due to the lack of local training and/or the inability to travel out of state.
Experience shows the difficulty of reducing fatalities from present levels. While the loss of veteran program managers is being felt as a result of the baby boomer generation moving into retirement, the problem is compounded and particularly acute in state government as a result of the extended downturn in the economy.
Individuals with limited experience are being promoted into key program management and coordinator positions under difficult resource constraints and funding scenarios with little formal training or development opportunity within the policy and programmatic areas (both technical and administrative) they are charged with managing. Moreover, loss of the veteran program managers represents experience lost from the prior period of program improvement. It is vital that national efforts build upon the momentum and foundation built during this prior period in order to gain program success measured in lives saved.
One foundation concept to the National Recreational Boating Safety Strategic Plan is the development of a “robust safety culture” among the boating community, building upon appropriate combinations of educational outreach initiatives, regulation, and (where appropriate) enforcement. Safety culture is the core values and behaviors resulting from a collective commitment by leaders and individuals to emphasize safety over competing goals to ensure protection of people and the environment. To dramatically reduce boating accident injuries and fatalities, it is time to reconsider and re-engineer how key program staff members are professionally developed.
While considerable efforts have been made by the USCG, NASBLA, and others to educate state boating law administrators and agency personnel, there is no voluntary, consensus-based minimum competency standard developed by professionals from both the public and private sectors to guide and determine training for RBS program personnel.
NASBLA applied for and was accepted as a member by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE). ICE is a professional membership association that provides education, networking, and other resources for organizations and individuals who work in and serve the credentialing industry. The organization is a leading developer of standards for both certification and certificate programs.
Based on these standards, a Certified Recreational Boating Professional (CRBP) program is being developed identifying training opportunities (virtual and in-person), addressing each individual standard, encompassing multiple domains and subdomains, ultimately resulting in the opportunity to enhance the overall management of the national RBS Program and qualify individuals with a nationally recognized professional credential.
We illustrated and demonstrated the CRBP Program domains during the recent International Boating & Water Safety Summit in San Diego, California. We’ll also demonstrate them at the NASBLA Annual Conference in Seattle (September 10-14, 2016).
In the interim, and to peak your interest a little bit more, the 10 program domains comprising the CRBP are: (1) Management, Leadership and Ethics; (2) Boating Law Administration; (3) Boating Laws and Compliance; (4) Federal Programs; (5) Partnerships; (6) Marketing, Outreach and Public Relations; (7) Boating Safety Education; (8) Safety Training and Program Development; (9) Waterways Management and Access; (10) Vessel Numbering, Titling and Vessel Identification System (VIS).
To download a complete copy of the 10 Domains and their sub-elements go to our website at http://www.nasbla.org under “Committees/Certified Recreational Boating Professionals/Domains.” For additional information contact John Malatak, RBS Professional Certification Program Manger, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 859.225.9487 ext.7373.