2016 Boat U.S. National Civic Distinguished Service Award

The Minnet0nka Power Squadron has applied for the prestigious national Boat U.S. Distinguished Service award recognizing outstanding civic service. Below is an outline of this application.  Click here for a presentation regarding the Squadron’s application.

Application for Distinguished Service

Making a Difference has been the theme for the Minnetonka Power Squadron in 2016. Overall our squadron achieved its goal of exceeding 14 civic service events through the donation of 3,653 hours given by 436 volunteers. We coordinate our civic efforts through a structured program which is planned at the beginning of each watch year. This program is communicated to our 250+ members through our twice monthly email, our squadron publication the TonkaNAUTS, and at our General Meetings. Event sign up is coordinated through our award winning website. Our members have a passion for serving on the civic side of the triangle and this year we set a Minnetonka record for activity that has had and continues to have a lasting impact on the community and within our membership.

Highlights for 2016

Short Term Local Activity – Minnetonka engaged in 7 local activities including safety perimeters for 3 fireworks displays, the Minnesota State Wake surfing Championship, and the City of Excelsior Big Island and Back paddleboard race. This furthered the USPS mission of promoting safe boating and enhanced the safety of the community and event participants. Our members also support two local charities (Feed My Starving Children, and Second Harvest Food Shelf). Serving at these events enhances our membership because people enjoy giving back to the community in support of those that are less fortunate. Finally, our members volunteered time to pick up garbage at 3 public islands on the lake. Hundreds of pounds of trash were collected and hauled off the lake. We have done this for several years and each year there is less and less garbage. Our efforts are having a lasting impact on the lake.

Long Term Local Partnerships – Minnetonka has partnered with the Boy Scouts of America, Hope Kids, the Wayzata American Legion, and the Minneapolis Aquatennial.

Boy Scouts of America – Each year the Boy Scouts have a Jamboree at Streater Cove (our property on Big Island). We take this opportunity to teach the leaders about boat safety by conducting Vessel Safety Checks, and the Boy Scouts by teaching the Motor Boating merit badge. This helps the boys achieve their ranks and plants the seeds for our organization and for safe boating as the scouts grow older. We had two scouts join our organization this year as Sea Scouts. This is a first for Minnetonka.

Hope Kids and the Wayzata American Legion – Founded in 2001, the Hope Kids vision is to restore hope and transform the lives of children with life threatening conditions, their families and communities. For the fifth year in a row our squadron with the help of Wayzata American Legion Post 118, and the City of Wayzata provide a full day of games, food, face painting, fishing, swimming, treasure hunts, building sand castles on the beach, and operating a water cannon provided by the Excelsior fire department. Throughout the year, the event is planned and fund raising occurs in partnership with the Legion. The big day starts off by picking up, on average over 120 kids and their family members at the municipal docks in city of Wayzata by boat for a 4.5 mile boat ride to our 9 acre Streater Cove facility. Twenty five boat captain’s with the support of a first mate make the journey fun and exciting for our Hope Kids guests while stressing the importance of safety and life jacket use. Once on the island our guests are greeted by one hundred or so of our Power Squadron volunteers. This year we were able to raise $3,800.00 for the Hope Kids Organization! Our goal is to provide as much fun as possible so that the parents with their children can relax and enjoy a wonderful day on the water without the worries and stresses of everyday lives, while stressing the importance of safety on and around the water. Our members say this is their favorite event because supporting such a worthy cause is rewarding and humbling.

Minneapolis Aquatennial – For the past thirteen years, Minnetonka has provided boat rides for the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador organization. This year our squadron hosted 121 individuals of which 45 were visiting dignitaries from the following organizations: Fiesta of San Antonio, St. Paul Winter Carnival, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, La Crosse WI Oktoberfest, Macon Georgia Cherry Blossom Festival, South Dakota Snow Queen Festival, and from Winnipeg, Canada the Festival du Voyageur. This increases awareness of the USPS around the US and Canada.

Promoting Boating Safety at Civic Events – This year Minnetonka participated in 3 community parades promoting boating safety, and won “Best Non-Profit” at the state’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in Cross Lake.

Squadron Representation on Local Boards – We have two members that are making a significant impact in the Community through service with 3 different organizations.

Ed Lethert – Ed is the leading authority on Electric Shock Drowning (ESD) within District 10. Ed’s life passion is to educate people on the hazards of electricity around fresh water and has made numerous presentations to other organizations. Ed is a member of the Electric Shock Drowning Prevention Association which is the leading National authority on Electric Shock Drowning.

Gabe Jabbour – Gabe serves on the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (LMCD) Board of Directors, and is a Committee member of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Aquatic Invasive Species Committee. Gabe is making a difference in the community through his service on these boards.

National Safe Boating Week – 47 members worked 7 boat ramps around the lake handing out over 300 MN state rules booklets, along with information about the USPS and the hazards of ESD.

Boat Shows or Other Public Fairs – The Minneapolis Boat Show is a four day event held in January, in which we sponsor a booth to promote the USPS by handing out information on boat safety, and advertise our ABC course for new member recruiting. During the 2016 Boat Show we accumulated 53 requests for more information and many of these folks attended our class and went on to become members. This is historically our single greatest recruiting event. Our team of boat show volunteers also utilize the boat simulator offered through the USPS, which is an amazing educational tool that draws families to our booth. We also staffed an information booth at the Antique Boat Show on Lake Minnetonka and handed out safety literature and information about the USPS. This was a new event for 2016.

Boating Outreach – Significant activity occurred this year to increase awareness of Electric Shock Drowning. Numerous presentations were made to various organizations and homeowners around the lake. One presentation was made to the Hennepin County Water Patrol so they can in turn know what to do should a hazardous condition arise, and can also educate people. We have promoted “No Swimming” signs at all the marinas around the lake and several have now posted signs. We also have provided literature to these marinas promoting the USPS, our Vessel Safety Check program, our ABC class, and an ESD information pamphlet. Regarding VSCs, our goal this year was to achieve a Minnetonka record 167 inspections. We are on track to top 250 inspections. This year our team expanded our efforts by sponsoring VSC’s at a few of our marinas on Lake Minnetonka. Not only were we successful in promoting boat safety but also gained four new members while promoting USPS awareness on the lake.

Family Youth Days – As mentioned above, Minnetonka held three youth days with the Boy Scouts of America, Hope Kids, and the Minneapolis Aquatennial. All of these events involved on the water activity as well as time at our Streater Cove facility. Through these days, we promoted boating safety, life jacket awareness, increased awareness of the USPS, and were able to help those in need.

Radio / TV Shows and Safety Articles – Member Ed Lethert was featured on WCCO TV in a spot on ESD. Our organization was also featured in two articles in the local paper highlighting our Hope Kids event, and our Public Island Cleanup event. We also published three safety related articles in our squadron publication the TonkaNAUTS.

Social Media Sites – Minnetonka maintains an award winning website and a Facebook page that both promote the USPS with appropriate branding, and are excellent vehicles for communication with our members and for perspective members around the lake.

Conclusion

Making a difference through civic service is a priority for Minnetonka. 2016 was a record year and we are having a lasting impact in the community through our many events. Providing civic service enhances our membership because people take pride in belonging to an organization that has a core value of community service. We appreciate the opportunity to apply for this very prestigious award and look forward to answering any questions.

Cdr Dave Fine, AP

Lt/C Kevin Wehrmann, S