Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, on Sept. 16, announced the appointment of Yamaha/Skeeter Pro Angler and National Boating Safety Ambassador Hunter Bland to the Boating Advisory Council. During his three-year term, Bland will help the council make recommendations to the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Department of Economic Opportunity regarding issues affecting the boating community, including boating and diving safety education; boating-related facilities, including marinas and boat testing facilities; boat usage; boat access and working waterfronts.
“I am honored to receive this appointment from Governor DeSantis and look forward to using my background in boating safety and natural resource conservation to help create more boating opportunities for the people of Florida while helping them stay safe,” said Bland. “I’m extremely thankful for companies like Yamaha and Skeeter who have believed in me from the start. They’ve given me a platform to help educate boaters on the importance of safety. Ultimately, it’s led to increased opportunities and safer waterways.”
On January 14th, 2017, Bland and his fishing partner experienced an accident during a college bass fishing tournament on Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia. The engine cut-off device connected to Bland’s life jacket saved their lives after they were ejected from the boat at a high speed caused by hydraulic steering failure. The accident sparked his passion for safe boating and ultimately changed his life.
In 2019, Bland was awarded the National Boating Industry Safety Award in the category “Best Marine Marketing and Outreach,” through his boating advocacy work with Yamaha Outboards. He continues to advocate for safe boating on the water through national speaking engagements, video series, television, fishing tournaments, events and social media. He is a member of the life jacket working group that helped draft the first-ever National Water Safety Action Plan and serves as an ambassador for the National Safe Boating Council and a member of the Waves of Hope family. Bland’s goal is to continue to make the waterways a safer place by sharing his story across the country, and ultimately to positively change behavior to eliminate all water related tragedies.
A native of Williston, Fla., Bland previously served as a Biological Scientist and Fisheries Technician for Florida Fish and Wildlife. He earned his bachelor’s degree in forest resources and conservation at the University of Florida®.