If you’re not familiar with the Women Divers Hall of Fame, there’s never a better time to become acquainted.
Founded in 2000, they’ve been recognizing and honoring exceptional women in the industry, and promoting excellence through their annual scholarship program for sixteen years.
DeeperBlue.com grabbed an opportunity to speak with Bonnie Toth, former president, current treasurer, and the talented artist behind the artwork in WDHOF’s promotional materials. She was gracious enough to give us a little bit about the organization’s history and goals, and is herself an extraordinary woman in diving. She didn’t tell us so herself, but when we arrived at the WDHOF booth on the DEMA Show 2016 convention floor, 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Laura Rogers-Bennett let us in on the big news: Last night, Bonnie was awarded a NOGI from the Underwater Academy of Arts and Sciences for her Distinguished Service. Word on the street is that over fifty of her WDHOF sea sisters were there to cheer her on!
Every year, the Women Divers Hall of Fame inducts six women into their elite membership rolls. This year’s new members are:
–Heather Armstrong (Hawaii)
–Gail Chapman (Florida)
–Szilvia Gogh (California)
–Rebecca Jones (Virginia)
–Laura Rogers-Bennett (California)
–Susan Speck (California)
Though these spots are reserved for women recognized for their achievements by the WDHOF, anyone can become an associate member for US$30/28 Euros. Current membership stands at well over three hundred associate members and over two hundred full members from every aspect of diving — they count free divers, tech divers, Navy divers, and professional divers of all kinds among their numbers. In fact, in 2015 they published a book to celebrate their 15th anniversary that was essentially a who’s who of women in diving — which Bonnie was quick to point out is an excellent networking tool.
Their other main focus is their scholarship program. Training grants and scholarships are awarded to divers to fund their research projects, professional training, and gear. This year, they’re distributing forty-two awards totaling over $62,000. The submission period for 2017’s applications ended this week, but the good news is that you have 364 days to prepare a stellar one for next year.
Coming up on the horizon for the WDHOF, there seems to be a move toward expansion. There’s talk of pushing into Europe and then the rest of the world. Bonnie is eager for the world to know about the Women Divers Hall of Fame and what they do, but also to find out about more extraordinary women all over the world that deserve to be honored for their work.
Head on over to their freshly-redesigned website at www.wdhof.org to learn more about their mission, members, scholarships, and recipients, or if you’d like to learn how you can help.
One fantastic option is to buy the 2017 Women Divers Hall of Fame “Making a Difference“ calendar ($15 + S&H). While you’re there, sign up for associate membership and receive a WDHOF Associate Member lapel pin and membership card, listing in the newsletter and on the website, an electronic version of the newsletter, and invitations to socialize with other members at shows, seminars, and special events.
The money you spend will be used to support scholarships and grants for Hall of Famers of the future.