Jim O'Dell, Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club's executive director, will step down from the position on July 9.
O'Dell, who was been involved with the club since the late 90s, is returning to what he described as his other calling in life: occupational safety and health. He will take up his new role as safety, health and environmental manager with Marel, Inc. on July 11.
"There's nothing more important than making sure employees go home at the end of the day, able to play with their kids, able to do their hobbies, without getting hurt in the workplace," O'Dell said.
While O'Dell has only officially served as the Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club's executive director since the summer of 2020, he has had an extensive history with the organization.
"It all started during the  Olympics," O'Dell said. "My daughter and I were seated on the floating grandstands, pretty much on the finish line, for the canoe finals. That was our introduction into sprint canoe and kayak."
O'Dell said his daughter got involved in a beginner racing league with the club in 1999. His daughter's involvement in the club led O'Dell to begin paddling.
He went on to fill in for coaches, got involved with the national dragonboat team and would eventually lead the organization through the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We didn't stay down for very long at the club," O'Dell said. "I rescinded a toolbox from safety and health and devised a plan to reopen safely."
O'Dell said he was glad they were able to successfully reopen the club during the pandemic, as many families sought out canoe and kayak rentals as a way to experience some fresh air outdoors.
"I can't tell you how many small families ... just wanted to rent a canoe and go out for four hours and just hang out in the middle of the lake," O'Dell said.
As the club looks toward its next executive director, O'Dell had one major piece of advice for that individual.
"Be flexible, always flexible," O'Dell said. "Challenges are going to come, opportunities are going to come, and we need to be flexible enough to handle a variety of tasks that will come up. People are going to have questions, people are going to want to try different things, and we have to be open to possibilities."
More information about the Lanier Canoe & Kayak Club can be found here.