The Diving Equipment and Marketing Association is pleased to announce that Captain Spencer Slate and Armand “Zig” & JoAnn Zigahn are the 2019 Reaching Out Award recipients and the newest inductees to DEMA’s Hall of Fame. The Dive Industry will celebrate at the 31st annual DEMA Award’s Party, taking place in Orlando, FL on November 15, 2019, to honor these recipients and reveal this year’s recipient of the Wave Makers Award. Join us at this year’s 80’s inspired evening as we honor these outstanding members of the diving community.
First presented in 1989, DEMA’s Reaching Out Award honors members of the diving community whose significant contributions to the sport have elevated the industry on all levels. This year’s recipients will be joining an extraordinary list of distinguished past Honorees.
CAPTAIN SPENCER SLATE has spent over forty years dedicating his time and resources to grow the sport of diving. During his career, he served as the Scuba Training Director of the Jacksonville, Florida YMCA Scuba Program and the National Chairman of the YMCA Scuba Program, as well as on the BOD of NAUI. “Slate” later moved to Key Largo and opened Captain Slate’s Dive Center which is still in operation.
Always community minded, Slate is founder and past president of the Florida Association of Dive Operators and served on the local Advisory Committee for the Tourism Development Council. He served 28 years on the Key Largo Chamber of Commerce, where he was chair three times. Slate also served on the original Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Committee that mapped out the new Florida Keys NMS for the entire 2900 square miles of the keys, ensuring by his work that Keys Charter Boat Dive operators would continue to have diver access to the entire sanctuary. Slate also spearheaded the Spiegel Grove artificial reef project in the keys. The Grove was sunk in Key Largo on May 2002 and at the time became the largest shipwreck sunk for diving.
In 2004, Slate was inducted into the International SCUBA Diving Hall of Fames for his leadership in pioneering dive resort safety operations for stores, boats and crews worldwide.
Captain Slate continues to be a community leader in his local and international diving communities. His efforts have helped grow the sport and ensure our underwater world will be accessible and enjoyed by generations to come.
ARMAND “ZIG” AND JOANN ZIGAHN have dedicated their careers and lives to improving the sport of scuba diving through what is today, forty-four years later, thought by many to be the largest consumer oceans exposition, dive and travel show in America: Beneath the Sea. The auspices of Beneath the Sea supported the Zigahns’ extensive efforts to educate the public and expose young people to careers in the aquatic sciences.
Since the start of the show, the Zigahns have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to assist in launching and continuously supporting many of the environmental organizations well known today. For thirty-three years, Ocean Pals and their program – education through art – has worked with international and national schools providing ocean-themed curriculum and offering incentives to schools and children to participate. Their Marine Careers Day program, held annually for the last thirteen years at Beneath the Sea, has helped expose young people to the potential careers in the diving industry. Adding to this totemic support of diving’s future; they continuously raise money to provide eighteen student scholarships and grants each year. In the early 2000s, the Zigahns contributed to the creation of a large aquarium for the education, engagement, and distraction of the seriously ill children who populate the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. Involving young adults from the Sea of Tomorrow Society (a group of up and coming divers involved with the Beneath the Sea show) they annually pledge the support necessary to sustain the dynamics of this demonstrated aid to the healing process.
The Zigahns’ life work has touched the lives of many throughout the international diving community while providing countless opportunities for young people. Such efforts encourage others, create visions, stir the blood, and bring new members into the diving community.
DEMA congratulates Captain Spencer Slate and Armand “Zig” & JoAnn Zigahn for their exemplary, life-long service to our Industry.