Area woman recognized for work in boating industry

ver 100 women were nominated but only 25 were recognized as the boating industry’s “Women Making Waves.”

Gail R. Kulp, Montoursville, is one of the 25 women who received this honor for her great contributions to the industry’s success and dedication to being a leader in its growth.

Growing up, Kulp was always a boater as she lived not too far from the Chesapeake Bay. Usually, she could be found in a canoe or kayak, but according to Kulp, she did spend some time on sailboats and powerboats.

Not only did Kulp spend a lot of her time on the water, but she also acted as an educator for five years in the middle school setting following her graduation from college. Her time as a teacher came to a close though when she spotted an advertisement in the newspaper asking for somebody with an education and sailing background to work in a boating nonprofit.

“I applied for it, and it was in another nonprofit in the boating industry. I worked there for six years before I came to the Sea Tow Foundation,” said Kulp.

Still working today with the foundation, Kulp, executive director, explained that the nonprofit organization is committed to spreading awareness and education on safe boating practices.

As executive director, Kulp finds herself traveling all over the country to ensure that safety education is being brought to those who want to spend the warm, summer days on the water. While Kulp is located in Pennsylvania, she will find herself traveling to the foundations headquarters in Long Island, New York.

Other travel for Kulp includes attending national boating conferences and speaking with groups the foundation partners with. On top of the travel, Kulp leads meetings and trainings for signature programs. While this may seem like a lot of work to some, Kulp is happy to do it as her life has been dedicated to the industry.

“Honestly, if I am not around water, I am not a happy person,” said Kulp.

With all of the hard work that Kulp devotes to the industry, it comes as no surprise that she was recognized as an industry pioneer. However, Kulp still found herself in shock and extreme gratitude.

“I am just astounded by it. Over 100 different women in the industry were nominated and to be one of the 25 selected is, just … I am so honored to be considered one of the top women in the boating industry,” said Kulp. “To know that I am able to make a difference and save lives on the water, that is what it is all about.”

The Sea Tow Foundation, which operates in all 56 states and territories, has two primary programs which Kulp highlighted: Life Jacket Loaner and Sober Skipper.

“Our first is the life jacket loaner program. That is where we make life jackets available for boaters to borrow and return at the end of their trip,” said Kulp.

There are to-date 575 life jacket loaner stations across the country. Boaters can go to any location and borrow a jacket for free whether it be for a day trip or week-long vacation, according to Kulp.

Locally, boaters can borrow a life jacket from the Eastern Lycoming YMCA. Kulp added that the foundation is currently working on adding more locations in the area for the summer. The foundation has a couple locations in mind, but is waiting for township approval.

“Our other signature program is our designated sober skipper program. That encourages boaters to be or to designate a sober skipper before they head out on the water,” said Kulp. “Just like you would with driving a car, we want to make sure boaters make this decision before heading out to ensure someone will operate the boat and make sure everyone gets back to the dock safely.”

According to Kulp, the foundation works on the water closely with boaters to bring even more awareness.

“For new life jacket loaner stations, we have 25 opening, it is a week to have their ribbon cutting events. Let people know that there are new life jacket stations and new life jackets available,” explained Kulp.

While each foundation location has a different way of handling the week, in Florida where there is boating all year versus northern states where the week acts as the opener for the season, the week is important to ensuring the push of education, according to Kulp.

Starting June 1st to the 7th, it is National Fishing and Boating week. According to Kulp, the boating safety tips will be centered around those who choose to go out on the water and fish. The foundation, including Kulp, will be participating in the upcoming week.

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