NASHVILLE – Dustin Buttram, a boating officer for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, has been named the Tennessee Boating Educator of the Year. The honor comes from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA).
Buttram serves in TWRA’s District 31 and the area includes Center Hill, Cordell Hull, Great Falls and Dale Hollow reservoirs. In addition, the area also includes the busy fishing and paddling Caney Fork River.
In his position, Buttram has also embraced the challenge of providing boating education opportunities to the public. In 2018, he taught more than 20 boating safety classes and certified 207 students who are required to have the boating education by law, plus numerous others not required by law to have the certification.
In addition to teaching on Saturday mornings at marinas on Center Hill or Dale Hollow, Buttram taught classes in four high schools and for seven school fishing teams. He offered classes on weeknights for those who could not attend weekend classes.
Buttram maintains a personal watercraft and Boating Under the Influence (BUI) simulator trailer in which he designed new graphics for a wrap to make it brighter and more noticeable. He took this simulator to safety fairs in Putman, DeKalb, Jackson and Cumberland counties and utilized it to educate young boaters as well as adults on the dangers of excessive drinking while boating.
Dustin attended county fairs and engaged with sportsmen and boaters. He taught a law enforcement class at Tennessee Tech University which included boating safety. He also made several visits to schools to give boating safety talks to the students.
In addition to providing boating education opportunities, Buttram patrolled on the water on enforcement boats, personal watercrafts and kayaks from which he checked more than 1,900 boats in 2018 for safety violations. He is usually the lead officer in accident investigation in his area and assisted rescue squads and sheriff’s officers in the search for drowning victims on Center Hill and Dale Hollow Lakes.
Buttram joined the TWRA in 2011, working as a wildlife officer in the Nashville area. He transferred to his current position in 2014.