In March, Youngstown State University (YSU) will receive funding under the Boating Safety Education Grant.
One of 19 organizations to be awarded money under the grant, YSU was awarded $16,506.50 from The Ohio Department of Natural Resources on January 15, with a promise to match about $5,000. R.J. Markowitz, the coordinator of Adventure Rec, wrote the grant for three specific things: to purchase equipment for the kayak program; to purchase stand-up paddleboards (SUP) and related accessories; and to train four individuals as instructors in either kayaking or paddle boarding.
“With the new equipment and instructors, we are able to double our kayaking offerings when it comes to trips and clinics,” said Markowitz. “We are also able to add SUP to our trips and clinics programming.”
One of the programs to be first impacted by this grant funding will be the “Learn to Kayak” clinic. Students attend a three-hour pool course that goes over kayaking basics inside and outside of the water, reviewing essential equipment, basic rescue techniques, planning and paddle strokes. “Folks coming into this class with no experience will come out able to plan their own outing on flat water,” said Markowitz. “I also hope we can use this program as a springboard to encourage students to participate in all the great new programs moving forward.”
There are four specific ways Markowitz sees this grant impacting the YSU community:
- Classes and trips will be offered at a rate that is affordable for a college budget.
- Training and skills classes are built into trips, keeping students from feeling they are attending another “class.” Instead, they will learn what they need to for the trip ahead.
- Educating students on the outdoor resources in their backyard, including hazards specific to the local Mahoning River and other area waterways, will give them the skills and knowledge needed to feel confident as they head out on the water.
- The paddle sports community will grow and use the waterways in responsible ways.
Doing the leg work for the grant consisted of outlining a program from start to finish. Markowitz said YSU also has to provide yearly reports on classes, staff and equipment, and have the program evaluated by the state.
During the grant application process, Markowitz learned several things along the way other campus rec professionals could benefit from. He shared them below:
- Start work on the project early and account for hiccups in planning.
- Be realistic. Don’t plan something you don’t have the time or resources for because you think that will help you get the funds.
- Identify those who might also benefit from the funds and ask for help, even if it’s as simple as a letter of recommendation to help with program facilitation.
- Make a friend at your grants office or with someone who has gone through the process before. They can even help point you in the right direction of grants.
- Reach out to those who have been awarded the grant before for answers and guidance.
- Reach out to those in charge of administering the grant as they can also answer questions and clarify any confusing areas.