The Verlen Kruger Award


Nominations have been accepted for
the 2023 Verlen Kruger Award!



The Verlen Kruger Award is given annually to a person (or persons) who has supported and promoted conservation and paddle sports in Michigan. Please join us on March 4 at the MSU Pavilion for the presentation of the 2023 Verlen Kruger Award winner. 


Verlen Kruger (June 30, 1922 – August 2, 2004) was a world record canoeist from Delta Mills, Michigan. In his lifetime, he paddled over 100,000 mi (160,000 km). This love of paddling was all the more remarkable because he did not start until age 41. Of particular note are the 18,232 mile Two Continent Canoe Expedition and the 28,040 mi Ultimate Canoe Challenge, the longest canoe journey ever. For more details on his accomplishments, read the story in Rapid Media's online edition of Paddling Magazine.

Verlen was named “The River Guardian” at the 2003 Quiet Water Symposium. This was a heartfelt honor from the entire mid-Michigan paddling community. He was recognized for his outstanding achievements and records in paddle sports, for bringing international awareness to our environmentally sensitive waterways, and for fostering stewardship of our treasured water resources.

As a further honor to Verlen, the award was named for him for subsequent years, becoming “The Verlen Kruger Award”. It is given annually to a person (or persons) who has supported and promoted paddle sports along with water conservation, education, or history in Michigan. The recipient of this award receives a commemorative paddle, and a brick on which the date and the name of the recipient is engraved. A duplicate brick is added to the walkway around the Verlen Kruger Memorial located by the Grand River in Portland, Michigan. The recipient’s name is also engraved on a plaque that is on public display.

On March 1, 2022, in a virtual presentation at the 27th Quiet Adventures Symposium, the 2022 Verlen Kruger Award was given to three paddlers who have earned the highest respect from those familiar with their years of leadership in the adaptive paddling community.

Our 2022 VKA winners are none other than Todd Leigh, Linda Savage, and Nancy Uschold. These three are the heart and soul of the adaptive paddling programs at Bay Cliff Health Camp. Located in Big Bay, Michigan, Bay Cliff is a year-round, nonprofit therapy and wellness center for children and adults with physical disabilities.

For decades, Todd, Linda, and Nancy have given selflessly of their time and talents to many who might otherwise have never felt a kayak move at the pull of a paddle. While living in East Lansing, Todd and Linda were known for their patience and skills in training new paddlers in whitewater and river environments. 

Presented at the 2022 Virtual Quiet Water Symposium to
Linda Savage, Todd Leigh, and Nancy Uschold 


With this award, the Quiet Water Society celebrates the efforts of Linda, Todd, and Nancy expand the opportunities for all to participate and enjoy paddling adventures. They have provided inspiring leadership in caring for the people and the waters that we share.







Verlen Kruger

James C. Woodruff

Janet Gross & Dave McCune

Gloria Miller





Albert Schultz

Dan Smith & Mike Smith

Karl Pearson

Charlie Parmalee





Doug Carter

Jay Hanks

Russ Hicks

Jean Kinnear





Ron Sell

Tiffany & Patrick Van DeHey

Dean Sandell

Tom & Connie Cannon





Hugh Walton

Andrea Knepper

Deana Jerdee

Todd Leigh
Linda Savage
Nancy Uschold