Video by Matt Haugen, WSU News.
PULLMAN, Wash. – Hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean and nearly a hundred miles from a large freshwater lake, Barry Moore
probably has certified more divers through the National Association of Underwater Instructors than any other active NAUI instructor.
Part of that is longevity. He has been teaching scuba diving for 28 years. And part is the popularity of his course at Washington State University. Each semester, 60-100 students enroll in PEACT 131 to complete the classroom work and pool component of NAUI certification. The final component is open water diving, which is separate from the WSU class.
Moore figures more than 4,000 WSU students have completed his program and gone on to earn their underwater certification.
To his knowledge, he said, not one of them has been involved in an underwater accident. Taking a university-based class allows students to spend more time getting comfortable with the equipment and working through potentially stressful situations, he said.
Thorough and fun
“I think it is probably one of the most successful university programs in the country,” said Jim Larsen, the Northwest territory representative for NAUI. Moore does an excellent job of creating a fun, engaging and rigorous program, he said, and recruiting high-quality teaching assistants and instructors.
“The end product is a quality program,” he said.
The challenge of a university program, Larsen said, is that TAs and student instructors eventually move on, “so you’ve got to have that continual pipeline.” But, he said, from the student’s perspective, the advantage of a university program like Moore’s is that you get a much more thorough education.
A dive shop program might require six to eight hours of lecture and eight to 12 hours in the pool, Larsen said, but Moore’s program requires 22 hours in the pool and about 20 hours in class.
“When you’re done with that class you’ll not only be qualified to dive, but you’ll be much better trained, he said.
Researches freshwater pollutants too
Moore enrolled in his first scuba class at WSU in 1980 when he was studying for his master’s degree in environmental science. He needed to be able to collect samples for research he was conducting on phosphorus movement through lake sediments into underwater plants.
He went on to earn his instructor’s certification and began running the WSU program in 1982. With a cadre of assistant instructors and TAs, Moore continues to head the scuba program while also teaching and conducting research on the effect of pollutants in freshwater ecosystems. He is an associate professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences.
In the scuba classroom, he said, students are learning math, physics, biology and more: “There is a large, rigorous, academic component that doesn’t always get recognized.” Typically, he said, students attend two lectures and one lab each week; the lab consists of work in the pool.
Skills translate into other careers
According to Moore, former students have used their scuba experience to further their careers. Matt Graves, for example, coordinates the scuba program at Portland State University.
But most enjoy scuba as a hobby and find it helps them further other goals. For example, one veterinary student got a job working at Sea World in San Diego and was able to pay for college.
Another student, Dave Sancewich, became an NAUI instructor while working on his undergraduate degree at WSU. He was able to support himself as an instructor while earning a graduate degree in business administration. Now a vice president at a Portland financial consulting firm, Sancewich said one of the reasons he was hired for his first job in the financial industry was because of the communication skills he acquired in his instructor certification course.
Instructors who teach the lab sections typically are former students, Moore said. About 20 students, including his daughter Ariel and son-in-law David, have completed the rigorous NAUI instructor certification. This summer, his son Dylan will begin work on instructor certification as part of his Pullman High School senior project.