Meet the MEPER Mentors

James Takacs joined CUTR at USF as a Traffic Safety Outreach Specialist. He earned a doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction from West Virginia University, and he has a strong commitment to adult learning theory and learning style research. He is interested and involved in motorcycle safety training and research; Dr. Takacs has over 10 years of experience as an effective MSF Certified RiderCoach.

He started in the FDU Motorcycle Safety Education Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey and worked with the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP) at Tobyhanna. In 2006, he relocated to Tampa and joined the ranks of Tampa Harley-Davidson as a Rider’s Edge Instructor where he has taught both New Rider Courses (NRC) and Experience Rider Courses (ERC) at the dealership. In early 2015, he became trained in the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s updated curriculum and continues to teach as a Harley-Davidson Riding Academy Coach. Dr. Takacs has a wide variety of experience in transportation, technology, teaching, research, and curriculum development. He is heavily involved in program outreach and in designing and disseminating safety training education materials for the Motorcycle Injury Prevention Institute.

Scott Van Utrecht has been an avid motorcyclist since the age of 5. His parents and older brother, Harry, were always motorcycle enthusiasts. Scott’s brother was the first of his siblings to buy a bike, a little Yamaha MX 80. Before he was able to ride on his own, Scott would sit on the gas tank of his brother’s dirt bike and hold onto the center of the handlebars as his brother took him for rides through the woods and trails of their summer house in Ellenville, NY. His brother taught Scott how to ride and would spend their days racing around the neighborhood, exploring, and making new trails. It is a bond that he and his brother share to this day.

Scott transitioned to riding on the street while in the Army; initially borrowing his brother’s bike before buying a street bike of his own. He had been riding for several years before being introduced to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) curriculum. He took his first MSF course in 2004 and quotes: “It really opened my eyes to the importance of training.” Scott enjoyed the course so much, he decided to get involved and work as part-time range aide. In 2006, Scott completed the MSF’s RiderCoach Preparation Course. Initially, only certified to teach the basic course, he later became certified to teach the advanced courses through MSF.

Scott enjoys being a student almost as much as he enjoys coaching. In addition to MSF training, he has attended different track schools throughout the U.S., creating a memorable learning experience and improving his own riding. Scott enjoys coaching and sharing his passion with others, whether it is getting new riders into the sport or helping experienced riders improve their skills. He loves riding just as much now as he did as a kid and tries to ride every day – averaging 30,000 miles a year! Whether riding on or off road, commuting, or taking a road trip he says, “It’s impossible to not enjoy yourself while riding!”

Originally hailing from East Tennessee, EJ Chedester discovered riding later in life and never looked back. After taking the Basic RiderCourse on a whim, she fell deeply in love with the sport and finds her work as a Harley-Davidson Riding Academy instructor immensely gratifying. She is especially inspired to introduce women to the community and is dedicated to making the joy of motorcycling accessible to all.

EJ has ridden all over the United States, recently completing a 12,000 mile solo cross-country trip; when off the bike she can be found planning her next long-distance adventure. Whether on the road, track or dirt, two-wheel pursuits bring great joy to her life.

Formerly a college preparatory social sciences educator, EJ holds a Master of Arts degree in Education and is certified as a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach. Her hobbies outside of motorcycling include aviation, severe weather-spotting and amateur astronomy. She hopes to pay forward the incredible experiences riding motorcycles has brought to her life.