Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Ohio DNR Distributes Boating Education Funds

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ten organizations across Ohio will receive up to $30,000 each to strengthen or enhance local boating education programs for youth and adult residents. The grants, awarded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), add up to $250,582.87.

“Safety on the water is at the heart of ODNR’s mission,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “These grants are an investment into our local communities, fostering a culture of responsible boating. These programs will provide people of all ages the skills needed for a lifetime of safe and enjoyable experiences on the water.”

Boating education grants support the local purchase of safety equipment, such as kayaks, life jackets and trailers. The following list highlights how this year’s grantees are using their grant funding to enhance their programs.

  • Ashtabula County YMCA, a long-standing grant partner, will conduct two Spirit of America Boating Programs annually. The program teaches safe operation of various watercraft to students aged 10-15. The organization will be using $12,727.61 in grant funding to purchase a new motor for a powerboat, replacement kayaks and sups, safety equipment, and maintenance items. Staff will also attend ODNR Paddling Instructor and Ohio Boating Education Course (OBEC) Instructor classes. (Ashtabula County)
  • The Cleveland Metroparks Outdoor Recreation program provides human-powered, natural resource-based educational outdoor experiences. The program will use $30,000 in grant funding to purchase four sailboats, ten paddleboards, and two kayak storage/transport carts. Training expenses for staff to work with the American Canoe Association (ACA) to have two staff certified in ACA Kayak Instructor Trainer course certification will also be covered. (Cuyahoga County)
  • Eastern Local School District runs a Conservation Science Curriculum and Science Club, engaging students in conservation and outdoor recreation. The club will use $24,577.50 in grant funding to support the implementation of an Introduction to Canoeing course, covering canoes, a trailer, paddles, Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), and other safety equipment. (Pike County)
  • Erie County 4-H Camp, located on Kellys Island, will use $30,000 in grant funding to purchase kayaks, sups, paddles, PFDs, a trailer, marine radios, and other safety equipment for their Ohio Sea Camp, which teaches water safety, paddling, motorboat operation, and more. (Erie County)
  • Hoover Sailing Foundation, which prioritizes sailing proficiency and water safety, will use $30,000 in grant funding to replace old equipment by purchasing 10 fully rigged sailboats to continue teaching sailing and water safety. (Franklin County)
  • The Kent State University Adventure Center plans to enhance its paddling programs, focusing on technique development, water awareness, and safety protocols. The Adventure Center will use $24,524.09 in grant funding for training certifications, equipment replacement, and adaptive paddling. (Portage County)
  • Lake Metroparks is a long-time boating safety partner of the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft. The park district teaches the OBEC classroom course to community members as well as providing courses in sailing, canoeing, kayaking, stand up paddleboard, powerboating, and personal watercraft operation. The park district will use $28,218.67 in grant funding for instructor training, safety equipment, personal flotation devices, and paddles. The park district will also replace an aging safety boat and motors for their powerboating program. (Lake County)
  • Ohio University aims to enhance its boating inventory for students majoring in Outdoor Recreation and Education. The university will use $20,515 in grant funding to purchase kayaks, spray skirts, paddles, and wetsuits. (Athens County)
  • The Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District plans to increase access and participation in safe watercraft recreation for urban youth, at-risk youth, veterans, and people with disabilities. Grant funding of $20,600 will be used to expand the district’s kayak fleet and safety equipment. (Warren County)
  • Queen City Rowing Club, operating along the Little Miami and Ohio Rivers, will implement a comprehensive program emphasizing skill development and safety. Grant funding of $29,420 will be used for a safety boat, single trainer rowing shell, PFDs, and dock rental fees. (Hamilton)

Last year, more than $208,000 was awarded to outdoor non-profit organizations, colleges, park districts, and local school districts.

The grants are funded by Ohio’s recreational boaters through the Waterways Safety Fund, which is comprised of a share of the state motor fuel tax, watercraft registration and titling fees, and funding from the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft is mandated by state law to provide boating safety education programs. The division accomplishes this mission by providing annual funding assistance to local communities and nonprofit organizations through a competitive grant program.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, and conservation of Ohio’s 75 state parks and waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at