Danielle Feerst is an entrepreneur and occupational therapist. But right now she has a more focused objective.
She’s energizing the Beaufort Yacht and Sailing Club (BYSC) and a related initiative, Beaufort Community Sailing and Boating (BCSB), with a plethora of new events and activities.
Danielle — or Dani, for short — is the new activities director at the BYSC and BCSB. A graduate of Tufts University with a degree in Human Factors Engineering, she’s worked on bettering the design of technology to fit the user profile of target customers at MIT, Tufts, Draper Laboratory, and at the MassChallenge Accelerator for her own company,Podium for Autism (formerly AutismSees).
The BCSB, a not for profit corporation founded to promote sailing and boating, is a separate corporation with its own board of directors but is based out of the BYSC.
A Flow of Activities
Her vision for the BYSC and BCSB are a constant stream of engaging activities for all ages. “Members will have community events and be able to get out of their homes. I want each person to feel active and confident they’re getting the most out of their membership here, meeting people and enjoying our natural landscape,” she explained.
Danielle is also spearheading a more cohesive vision between the BYSC and the BCSB.
“I’d like to develop a self sustaining, efficient and effective way of getting community members in the Beaufort area to learn to sail,” she said. Ultimately that could strengthen the membership at the BYSC.
Multiple Events Planned
She’s also partnering with BCSB Board Member Paul Keyserling to teach the fall Optis Program for kids 8 through 13 and kicking off a series of meetups for women of all ages. Participating women will create an agenda for the meetings at their first weekly meeting Sept. 15. “The options could include everything from stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking to learning more about charts, navigation and rigging a sailboat,” she said.
Through the combined reach of the BYSC and the BCSB, Danielle wants to make an active lifestyle accessible to everyone, regardless of age or physical abilities.
“I have a background in working with kids with autism and ADHD. I also did adaptive sailing instruction in Boston, so I’ve seen how the system could run and how it could be effective on a small scale for our campus. What’s nice about this option is it expands opportunities for BYSC and community members who have physical limitations — members who might not otherwise try sailing or boating. They could learn how to do those things in an adaptive way,” she said.
A Place for Everyone
Danielle said many potential sailors and boaters are unaware of the adaptive possibilities. “I’m going to try to open source knowledge about what it is, clarify our vision for what this could be and send out information on programs and trainings so people have a transparent understanding of what I’m doing,” she continued.
During the next 90 days, she has an ambitious plan to get more people to the club, learn more about the culture and membership of the BYSC and set a vision for 2021. She also wants to improve our safety with more education and standardized processes around access to water and boating.
Of course, all of this is compounded by the realities of a pandemic. Danielle is following effective protocols for all programs, monitoring information from the South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control and aligning with national standards for safety.
“That includes reduced capacity for events, asking people to show up with masks and temperature checks at the sail shed. When you’re outdoors, staying socially distanced, you might not need to wear your mask.But we want people to have one for times they are in close proximity.
“What’s nice about sailing and boating is that it’s pretty safe, even at this time. The emphasis on keeping up awareness about Covid-19, while allowing safe activities on our campus to help the health and happiness of our community,” she said.
(Feel free to email Danielle with your ideas and suggestions.)