McCullough received the "Boating Safety Award" at the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators' 47th annual conference, in Lexington, Kentucky. Established in 1992, the award is presented to a state or local government employee who has demonstrated outstanding performance in enforcement, education, search and rescue, navigational aids, or registration and titling. The award was sponsored this year by National Safe Boating Council, a longtime partner of the association.
"Joe McCullough is truly the 'ambassador of boating education' in the 49th state," read the association's announcement of the award. "Since becoming Alaska's state boating education coordinator (in 2002), McCullough helped launch Alaska's fledgling boating education program. Working long hours and giving up weekends, he has taken the phrase "on the road" to a whole new level. By jet, float plane, ATV, trail and boat, McCullough travels to the far-flung corners of the nation's largest state to places with few amenities, teaching Alaska-relevant boating programs."
To date, McCullough has personally taught more than 900 Kids Don't Float classes, reaching over 17,000 Alaskan students of all ages. In his spare time, he worked with partners to produce and release Alaska's new film "Cold Water Boating," which highlights the risks of cold-water immersion and the importance of wearing life jackets.
"I would like to add my voice to those congratulating Joe McCullough for his outstanding service to the cause of safe recreational boating in Alaska," said Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Michael L. Menge. "While our state offers world-class opportunities for enjoyable boating, our unique and extreme environment carries commensurate hazards."
"Joe has made it his mission and his passion, to teach Alaskans and visitors how to recognize and avoid these risks," Menge said. "That his successful efforts have been recognized and applauded by his peers is a testament to his skill and dedication."
As a park ranger in the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, McCullough is also a commissioned peace officer, who helps provide quality marine law enforcement training for both Alaska State Trooper recruits and seasoned officers at the trooper Academy in Sitka. He also trains state volunteer instructors and manages the state's boating safety instructor registry.
"McCullough is an outstanding example of a boating safety professional who consistently goes above and beyond in the quest for excellence to deliver quality Alaska-relevant boating education and law enforcement training," said the boating law administrators' association. "His commitment, his unique and outgoing teaching style and his enthusiasm are a delight to children. These traits have opened many new doors, particularly into Alaska's schools and many native communities where boating safety programs are now welcomed. Most importantly, every child McCullough has reached knows how to select and properly don a life jacket, why life jackets are so important when boating on cold water, and that "the best life jacket is the one you wear."
NASBLA is a nonprofit organization representing the boating authorities in all U.S. states and territories. It is dedicated to reducing boating accidents and saving lives. It is working to make boating safety education, laws and enforcement uniform across the nation.
For more information on the award, contact the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators at (859) 225-9487.