American Motorcyclist March 2018

New Florida State Chapter Coordinator Chosen

James Leatherwood Named to Volunteer Position

 

When Florida’s new AMA State Chapter Coordinator James Leatherwood heard about the AMA EAGLES volunteer training program, he “jumped at the chance to learn more about how I could get involved.”

The 55-year-old from Jacksonville, Fla., was an AMA member in the 1980s, when he worked with the AMA and a state motorcycle rights group to fight a proposed helmet law in Nebraska.

“We lost, but I learned a lot about how the laws were made,” he said.

Leatherwood let his AMA membership lapse for several years before rejoining in 2011, “when I got back on the road with a motorcycle, once my sons were old enough to ride the street with me.”

Now, Leatherwood is one of five state coordinators selected for the program.

State coordinators work with the AMA, individual AMA members and AMA Districts to recognize challenges and threats to motorcycling and the motorcycle lifestyle, to disseminate information, and to identify opportunities for AMA volunteers to make a difference in the motorcycling community and beyond.

To become a state coordinator, AMA members must complete AMA EAGLES training. Each letter of the EAGLES acronym stands for an important element of advocacy: Education, Activism, Growth, Leadership, Expertise, Skills.

AMA State Chapters coordinators are AMA EAGLES members who have completed the Education, Activism, Growth, Expertise and Skills sections of AMA EAGLES training and have completed, or are currently working on, the Leadership segment.

Leatherwood was happy to complete the training.

“I’ve been an AMA member this time around since 2011,” he said. “And I’ve been following the AMA’s work to help motorcyclists on road and off, from helmet laws and ethanol fuel to the bikes-for-beef nonsense.”

He said Florida motorcyclists are facing some tough issues.

“Every year or two, a state legislator or two tries to pass a mandatory helmet law,” he said. “I always wear my Shoei modular when I ride, but I believe we should be able to choose for ourselves what to wear.

“I also want to raise awareness about motorcycling with the department of transportation. There’s a lot of road construction in Florida, and it seems the planners and construction crews don’t consider the effect their decisions have on motorcyclists, from edge traps that can throw you off the bike, to grooves and metal plates that are hazards to navigation.”

Leatherwood also would like Florida to allow lane splitting by motorcyclists.

As state coordinator, Leatherwood plans to “work to elevate the influence of the AMA among riders and with our elected representatives.”

And there is the fun side of it, as well.

“Both my sons ride, and they’re out of the house, so I have some time to give back to the sport I enjoy,” Leatherwood said. “Plus, it gives me an excuse to ride around the state and meet other people who love to ride.”

AMA State Chapters and Volunteers Manager Marie Wuelleh is in the process of selecting coordinators for every state. Anyone interested in completing the EAGLES training and becoming a state chapter coordinator should contact Wuelleh at mwuelleh@ama-cycle.org.