Many people are unaware of the beauty waiting to be discovered right below the surface. Cressey Merril, a Professional Association of Diving Instructors certified master diver, is happy to bring about that awareness. Merril has been a diving instructor for 16 years, and currently teaches courses at Linn-Benton Community College, Oregon State University, and through his privately owned instructor company located in Corvallis, Bottom Dwellers Inc. The levels of certification offered range from Basic Open Water to Specialty and Professional Dive Master.
The certification courses are formatted in a three-tier system. The first consists of classroom training designed to give students practical knowledge of safety concerns associated with diving. The pool portion of the training, done at the Osborne Aquatic Center or on OSU’s campus, utilizes the concepts learned in class. The open water dive, performed in either a local lake or coastline, is the final stage and presents students with the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in basic underwater skills.
Merril works with two kinds of people: those who want to try diving because they’re fascinated with the ocean, or in some cases, people who have a fear of water. The others are students interested in a career in an underwater field.
He also prepares OSU students for the scientific diver course, which is required for those aspiring to become research diver certified. Once a student reaches this certification, they enter a pool of volunteers that are called upon for research projects and surveys by the Oregon Department Fish and Wildlife and the Oregon State University Oceanography and Marine Biology departments.
Among Merril’s numerous students who have left Corvallis and achieved higher level certifications, Megan Cook, a graduate of Oregon State, was awarded the 2012-2013 Rolex Scholarship. Cook has since traveled the world as an “ocean ambassador,” educating citizens around the world about the studies she has been a part of and worldwide aquatic discoveries that have taken place. She can be followed on her Facebook page “Megan Cook – Ocean Ambassador,” and on Twitter @MeganCook3.
For those looking to reenter the world of scuba or interested in attempting it for the first time, Merril will be offering a free basic class on Saturday, April 5 at the Osborne Aquatic Center during April Pools Day. The gear will be provided by Eugene Skin Diving. If you’re interested in private lessons or otherwise becoming certified, contact Cressey Merrill at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also several websites and forums available specifically for the Northwest diver, including www.scubanw.com and www.nwdiveclub.com.
By Kirsten Allen