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NPAA honors members and partners

by National Professional Anglers Association 3 Feb 2023 14:44 PST
2023 Annual Conference © National Professional Anglers Association

Supporting Partner of the Year Award, Look to the Future Award, and $4,500 for Florida Guide Relief presented at 2023 Annual Conference.

The National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) has a well-earned reputation for representing all who make a living in the sportfishing industry. With a passionate and growing membership of nearly 1,400 members including everyone from guides and captains to tournament anglers, fishing department associates and management, manufacturing personnel, engine mechanics, professional rep groups and tackle shop staff, the non-profit organization is fully immersed in sportfishing advocacy, promoting entry into the sport, and providing superior networking opportunities to its members and nearly 80 supporting partners.

"We are laser-focused on growing and protecting the vital interests of the sportfishing industry," says NPAA president, Patrick Neu, "But our mission takes more than just a community effort, it requires support from some very special members and partners that go above and beyond, time and again. I think it's important to recognize and honor those difference makers for their outstanding efforts, which we do each year at our Annual Conference."

To that end, NPAA made three major presentations at their 2023 Annual Conference, held in Ft. Myers, Florida, this past January.

Mercury Marine Corporation and Michelle Kilburn, Mercury's Manager of Tournaments and Endorsements, was presented with the NPAA 2022 "Supporting Partner of the Year Award." This recognizes an NPAA partner that has displayed outstanding support to the organization's members while contributing to the overall health of the sportfishing industry. Mercury was a presenting sponsor of the 2023 Meet and Greet Event at the Conference, sponsored headline speaker Gerald Swindle's appearance at the conference, and shared information about the NPAA with their pro-staff through their pro-staff newsletter this past year. For years, the company has asked pro-staff applicants if they are members of NPAA, listing the organization as being supportive of conservation and the overall good of the industry. "Michelle Kilburn," added Neu, "has been an extremely helpful and engaged NPAA partner for years and was instrumental in our decision to take our conference south and hold it in Fort Myers this year. We truly appreciate her insightful input and hard work on behalf of NPAA and the sport."

NPAA presented John Gillman with its "2022 Look to the Future Award," in recognition of an individual that has contributed greatly to the future of sportfishing through efforts to support growth in angling participation. "What John does for the NPAA and the sportfishing community through donation of his time and the services of his business is just outstanding," said Neu. "His business demands an incredible amount of his time, and he yet still finds time to work on behalf of both the NPAA and Future Angling Foundation (FAF). John's business, ATX, warehouses the FAF grant product. They pack it, ship it, and invoice the FAF for just the freight at their cost, which is about a third less than we can ship it for ourselves - and they do all that basically for free. John truly deserves this award - and a whole lot more. We can't thank him enough for all his help."

"This is just my way of giving back. If everybody gives back just a little bit, it makes a huge difference - and it's a really good feeling," said Gillman after accepting his award.

Additionally, NPAA was able to award $1,500 to The Guide Relief Program, headed by member Mollie Simpkins, of Montana, which aims to support those who make a living fishing anywhere in the country, especially after disaster strikes. Her campaign was able to triple that contribution thanks to matching funds provided by The Orvis Company and The Boat Company, resulting in a $4,500 donation to the Collaboratory and The United Way of Lee County, Florida, to help guides recover losses of business and equipment due to Hurricane Ian.

"In a nutshell, this is what the NPAA is all about," concluded Neu. "This organization is here to grow, support, advocate for and aid those making a living in the sportfishing industry in whatever ways we can. We have a growing and passionate membership, and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this beneficial organization - especially when you look back over the past year and see how so many members pitched in, pulled together and truly made a difference. I thank our award winners for their tireless efforts and gestures of good will. With members and partners like you on board there's no doubt NPAA will continue to thrive and remain a positive force in the sportfishing community and industry going forward."

NPAA represents all who make a living in the sportfishing industry. In addition to superior networking opportunities, sportfishing advocacy and promoting entry into the sport, the organization offers a monthly member newsletter, a weekly industry NewsBLAST, and access to significant discounts on gear and services provided by many of its nearly 80 supporting partners.

For more information on joining the NPAA and exploring the many benefits membership provides, visit

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