OJT - On The Job Training

Learn more about our mentorship program that has been providing veterans in TRR chapters an opportunity to gain leadership, instruction and management experience for three years!

If you are interested in being a Mentor for a potential chapter member that you’d like to nominate for the 2019 OJT Program please contact Lance Sharp, the OJT Program Administrator, for additional details and to answer any remaining questions you may have about the program. He’s eager to share this amazing opportunity with you. Contact information for Lance is at the bottom of the page!

What is the OJT Program?

The OJT program is for wounded or disabled veterans participating in Team River Runner and is an opportunity for professional growth and skill building in many areas. The OJT veteran will be working 10 hours each week for 30 weeks on regular Team River Runner activities. These activities will include outreach, program delivery and instruction, as well as follow up data recording for each paddling session. The idea behind the program is to build chapter leadership from within the TRR. We have been successful with this as some of our former OJT participants have started their own chapters. Additionally, the OJT veteran will develop leadership skills that will be applicable to other careers such as volunteer, equipment management and adaptive sports instruction. Each OJT veteran will have one or more mentors to provide advice and support as needed.
The OJT program is funded by Disabled Sports USA through an Adaptive Sports Grant from the Department of Veterans Administration.

2018 OJT Participants

David Sapp

Team River Runner
Atlanta

I, David Sapp, am a wounded combat veteran that served in the Army from 1988 -2009.  While serving in Iraq in 2006, I sustained 3 bullet wounds which permanently impaired my physical abilities.  My life was forever changed as I had to contend with a Traumatic Brain Injury, blind left eye, shattered humorous with no range of motion in my right shoulder, and a shattered right femur that was replaced with a metal rod.

Since retiring from the service, these limitations caused me to question my abilities to perform daily activities as well as hobbies that I wished to pursue.  One particular ambition I have had since I was a young boy was to start kayaking as a form of exercise while enjoying the outdoors.

Well in 2014, it all began as I was associated with TRR.  Although initially, I wanted a fulfilling, fun adventure, my expectations were far surpassed as I had no idea I was going to be put in a kayak and strapped down with a skirt. The unexpected undertaking has been thrilling and exhilarating to say the least. I am so happy to have had such an opportunity and even better that it is continuous and ongoing.  So now as I have fulfilled these goals, I would like to share my experience with others and become more involved with TRR.

My goals now are to utilize OJT through Disabled Sports USA, and transition from a participant to a volunteer.  These goals will entail that I achieve an ACA Level II or III kayak instructor.  Along with that, I would like to be able to assist as many veterans possibly so that they can enjoy the same experiences that I have had, since being a part of TRR.

Celiann Gonzalez

Team River Runner
Denver

My name is Celiann Gonzalez, and I go by Cel.  I graduated from USAFA in 1995 and served in the AF as a Civil Engineer for 10 yrs till I was honorably/medically discharged in 2005. During my time in service,  I did 2 deployments and one remote tour. Transition into civilian life was difficult, and I struggled w my personal life for a while…
Through it all, being outdoors was my safe place. I took on trail running, hiking, backpacking, skiing etc. In 2015, I got the chance of rafting the Grand Canyon and it changed me…. Not sure how to put it into words, all I knew is that I didn’t want it to end….  That place is magical!  
 
So I started looking into what I needed to do to go into outdoor/river lifestyle.  As a ski volunteer for NSCD I found TRR.  And on June 2016 I got my first lesson w Josh and also met Mike. The rest is history…. I not only loved kayaking, I found myself again and people I felt at ease with….  Since then, I’ve participated in several TRR events – Western Conference, TRR Women’s trip, a couple of TRR Regional trips and ACA certification clinic on which I got level 2. And now, I left my engineer career and I’m pursuing a career in the outdoor recreation arena -w the goal of helping veterans and disabled folks through paddling and/or wilderness therapy. 
 
Being in OJT is the perfect fit for pursuing this new purpose in life. I want enable other vets and/or people with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors and find that sense of freedom and peace that it gives.  And hopefully, find my way back to the Grand Canyon as a kayaker…

Jozel Dirkson

Team River Runner

Randy Knutson

TRR Chapter

I joined the Air force in 1982 and retired in 2008 after serving 26 years.  I am in the process of reinserting myself into an active outdoor lifestyle.  I am active with the VA Recreation Therapy Program and I had heard about TRR through them.  
I have always loved being around and in rivers, I grew up in Alaska and love anything involving the outdoors.  
TRR has enabled me to become involved again in activities involving river sports.  
TRR has given me the amazing opportunity to be very active and happy again.

As an OJT Randy helps his chapter  and trains to get the necessary skills to be a chapter coordinator with the following duties:

-Administrative support

-Kayak and instruction skills

-Safety knowledge and training

-Pre-trip organization

-Coordinating and leading events and building and working with community partners.

Dayne Law

Team River Runner
Boise

Dayne Law is a Coast Guard veteran, social worker, Buddhist lay practitioner, and river rat. Dayne’s love of rivers began as a young child camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California with his family.

At age 18 he took a beginning kayaking class and fell in love with boating. After discharge from active duty he became a river guide for 7 years. About 15 years ago Dayne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which increasingly began to manifest into various physical challenges. In 2008, Dayne stopped kayaking due to his health and became very depressed.

Several years later he found a local TRR chapter, and upon seeing other disabled veterans overcoming their physical and emotional challenges, it inspired him to begin kayaking again. After participating for a couple of seasons, Dayne wanted to help other veterans find the peace and healing that he had found again through paddling so he decided to become a TRR volunteer.

 

This year Dayne was selected to the OJT Program to help run the Boise, Idaho Chapter. Dayne looks forward to the opportunity to learn more about Team River Runner operations and to help his chapter grow stronger by developing innovative programs, doing outreach, planning events, teaching paddling skills, and helping with administrative tasks. Dayne lives with his wife Heather, cat Mailo, and service dog Maddie in Boise, Idaho.

Jeanine Meerscheidt

Team River Runner
Fredericksburg

I first became involved with TRR through my daughter, Kiera Meerscheidt, a life guard at the Ron Rosner Family YMCA, when the Fredericksburg chapter of TRR started there. 

I was hesitant at first because I was nervous on the water. Lance Sharp (Chapter Coordinator) helped me overcome my fears, though it took quite some time, his patience won me over. I continue to participate because I love being able to do something physically and mentally challenging, as well as environmentally friendly in a beautiful environment with really positive people.

I have been in the Army/Army Reserve for 25 years. I will be retiring in 2019. I look forward to sharing the camaraderie with veterans as well as family members, and anyone else who enjoys kayaking for the rest of my life. As a daughter of a disabled mom, and granddaughter of a below the knee amputee, I appreciate all that TRR offers to the disabled population, and I am so glad to call myself a part of Team River Runner.

Training to run a chapter of Team River Runner will allow me to share my love of physical activity with others in a non-competitive, supportive environment that works to develop all participants to
their comfort level and beyond if possible.


Running my own TRR chapter means that I can share the benefits of membership wherever I end up
when I retire from Army service late 2019.

2018 OJT Mentors

Laura Dillon

Chapter Coordinator
Team River Runner
Atlanta

We started the TRR Atlanta Chapter with the hearty moral and financial support of the GCA in 2013 and I have been the Chapter Coordinator since.

I have been paddling since 2008 and am L4  Whitewater Kayak and L3 SWR Instructor Certified, I LOVE paddling and my river ‘family’ so being part of TRR and being able to share this with others has been awesome.
 
I was very keen to get behind the OJT program as our goal for the Atlanta chapter is to have it run by Veterans for Veterans with the support of the civilian paddling community.

Frank Hackney

Chapter Coordinator
Team River Runner
Colorado Springs

Frank has been the TRR Colorado Springs Chapter Coordinator since 2010.
Frank was active duty Army 10 years and Us Army Reserves 20 years. 
Frank works as a Department of the Army Civilian on Ft Carson, CO. 
I would like to grow the Colorado Springs chapter and provide more opportunity for our local area veterans  through the knowledge that our OJT candidate will bring to our Chapter!

Josh Thurmond

Chapter Coordinator
Team River Runner
Denver

Josh has been the Denver Chapter Coordination since 2014. Josh is a ACA Level 4 Whitewater Kayak Instructor, Colorado Raft Guide Trainer, Wilderness First Responder, and former EMT/SRT. He loves to paddle kayak, canoe, SUP and river surf. He also loves getting BUTTS IN BOATS! He is fired up about the OJT program because,”Ultimately, it secures the future of Team River Runner.”    

Bob Tracy

Chapter Coordinator
Team River Runner
Boise

Bob retired 3 years ago after 35 years in business with 25 years of kayaking experience. Bob will be mentoring both Randy and Dayne! 

I was looking for something to do to provide service to others where I would have a passion, and was recruited by Dave Robey ( TRR Program Director) to start up a chapter in Boise for TRR. 

We are now moving into our 4th year and have a great group of volunteers, participants, sponsors, and donors that have made the program super successful, along with the great support from TRR National. 

I’m not a veteran myself, but am so happy to be able to serve those who have served and sacrificed for us!

Lance Sharp

Chapter Coordinator
Team River Runner
Fredericksburg

Lance Sharp is coordinating the OJT program for the second year in a row. Lance is also the chapter coordinator for the Team River Runner Fredericksburg chapter as well as the Mid Atlantic Regional Coordinator

In addition to being the program coordinator for the OJT program, Lance will also be mentoring Jeanine Meerscheidt from his chapter in Fredericksburg!

My name is Lance Sharp, I am a 23yr retired Air Force First Sergeant living in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Having proudly served my country, it is my privilege to give back to those who serve or who have served. I was introduced to OJT through Team River Runner and am grateful as the program coordinator to have the opportunity to work with some of our chapter Veterans as they take on more of a leadership role within their chapters. Through the OJT program and one on one mentorship provided by their current chapter coordinators, we give the Veterans selected to participate a paid opportunity to learn all the skills necessary to be able to run their own chapters. The OJT program is an amazing opportunity for all involved to connect and grow from within!

Lance Sharp
OJT Program Coordinator

Contact

E-mail

fredericksburgva@teamriverrunner.org

Phone

229.507.8787

Jeff Allen
Former OJT Participant

“The OJT program allowed me to get more experience working with veterans who have injuries and it has made my life a lot better because I am not just stuck in the house. I really enjoyed it and I’m pretty much hooked.”

Dave Robey
TRR Program Director

“These warfighters are our force multipliers, each of them turns around and helps other veterans. It’s a part of the ongoing healing process; they are healing and the veterans they help are also healing.”

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