First Annual Boating Education Lagniappe Day certifies 264 boaters

Staff reports

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries certified 264 boaters statewide after their first ever "Boating Education Lagniappe Day" on May 14.

Boating Education Lagniappe Day ran from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at eight locations, including Gonzales, across the state and consisted of the NASBLA boating education course, food and drinks, giveaways and door prizes all free of charge to the public.

"We are extremely pleased with the turnout as more than 250 boaters will now be safer when boating on Louisiana waterways," said LDWF Lt. Col. Jeff Mayne, the State's Boating Law Administrator.  "We wanted to make this day full of fun and still be educational at the same time and I feel we accomplished both goals."

The National Associations of State Boating Law Administrators safe boating certification is mandatory for anybody born after Jan. 1, 1984 who wants to operate a motorboat in excess of 10 horsepower.

The NASBLA approved course includes information on choosing a boat, classification, hulls, motors, legal requirements and equipment requirements.  The course also covers many navigation rules and charts, trailering, sailboats, canoeing, personal watercraft and more.  Each student that completed the course was issued a vessel operators certification card.

Each location provided a free lunch that included crawfish fettuccine, jambalaya, pizza, chicken tenders and chilidogs.  Sponsors also provided door prizes and giveaways such as gift cards, ice chests, personal flotation devices, sunglasses, sunscreen and boating whistles.  LDWF also gave away key chains and cups with the LDWF logo.

"This won't be the last 'Boating Education Lagniappe Day' in this state and we are already planning on next year's event to make it even bigger," said Capt. Rachel Zechenelly, LDWF's Boating Safety Coordinator.  "We heard nothing but good things from the public that attended the event.  Even some of the parents that didn't need the course said they learned a lot about boating safety."

Sponsors for the Boating Education Lagniappe Day are the Louisiana Wildlife Agents Association, Academy Sports and Outdoors, Wal-Mart, Cabela's, Holiday Inn, Calcasieu Parish District Attorney's Office, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, CCA of Louisiana, All Star Pontiac in Sulphur, Coca-Cola of Lake Charles, Songy's Sporting Goods of Houma, and Gene Kile Inc.

For more information on boating regulations and safety, please visit  For more information on boating education courses, please visit

Studies have shown that states with a mandatory boating education program have fewer boating incidents that result in fatalities than states that have no boating education program.  States with a boating education program for more than 20 years had 3.67 fatalities per 100,000 registered boats, and states with no boating education program had 6.61 fatalities per 100,000 boats.

LDWF initiated the state's boating education program in 2003 and has certified over 40,000 boaters during that time.