Accepting “Top Squadron” honors (3rd from L) is D. Fine, CDR, Minnetonka Power Squadron, along with (L to R) L. Ojeda, C/C of USPS; T. Sensenbrenner, asst. dir., boating safety, BoatUS Foundation; J. Pahl-Washa, R/C, chair, USPS Membership Committee.

At the United States Power Squadrons (USPS) Annual Meeting held recently in Orlando, Florida, Minnetonka Power Squadron, of Minnetonka, Minnesota took “Top Squadron” honors while Florida’s US Power Squadron District 22 was named “Top District.” The awards are sponsored by Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) and given annually in recognition of exceptional service and public boating safety education and service to the boating community.

“While I’m out on the water enjoying the boat with my family, US Power Squadron members are giving up their own time to help make boating safer,” said BoatUS Foundation Assistant Director of Boating Safety Ted Sensenbrenner. “USPS offers great learning opportunities in the classroom, on the water and online. And with the season starting soon, they’ll do thousands of free boating safety checks, ensuring we all stay safe on the water this summer.”
The Minnetonka Power Squadron’s accomplishments were many including a whopping 3,653 hours of time contributed by 438 volunteers. The man-hours supported two local charities, Feed My Starving Children and Second Harvest Food Shelf. Members also served as safety perimeter marshals for several events, including the state’s wakeboarding championships, and conducted nearly 250 vessel safety checks.

The Squadron also participated in 18 civic events, including numerous shoreline cleanups. They educated Minnesota boaters about a new state law that requires hard-wired CO detectors on boats with enclosed cabins and supported “Hope Kids,” an organization that helps transform the lives of children with life-threatening conditions. They also hosted a major Boy Scouts of America Jamboree, taught Scouts about vessel-safety checks and provided instruction for the motorboating merit badge.

The Top USPS District Award recognizes the collective efforts of all of the squadrons within a region. USPS District 22 includes 17 Squadrons on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The award is based on the amount of classroom hours logged, community outreach hours and number of vessel safety checks performed. These voluntary and free safety reviews are designed to educate boaters about recommended and required safety equipment aboard recreational vessels and to assess the condition of the safety equipment they have aboard.

US Power Squadrons began with the efforts of Charles Chapman, who in 1914 realized that owners of recreational powerboats needed instruction on how to operate safely and with confidence. Today, USPS has over 350 regional Squadrons for owners of both sail and powerboats. For more, go to USPS.org.