2013 GRN Photo Showcase and Monthly Staff Picks

Each month we will have a different theme and invite you to send us a photo that you think best represents the topic of the month. Check out next month's topic and more details about the GRN Monthly Photo Showcase and Staff Pick.

January's Theme: "Favorite photo of 2012"
Staff Pick Winner: Amos Tuck

February's Theme:  "Love Boat Paddling"
Staff Pick Winner: Larry Waters Jr.

March's Theme:  "A River Problem that Needs to be Fixed' 
Staff Pick Winner: Jason DuPont

April's Theme:  "Best Weekend for River Photo"
Staff Pick Winner: Sarah Topper

May's Theme:  "What Do You Do to Conserve Water?"
Staff Pick Winner: Bonny Putney

June's Theme:  "River Wildlife"
Staff Pick Winner: Brett Albanese
July's Theme:  "Best Paddle Georgia 2013 Photo"
Staff Pick Winner: Cindy Leighton

August's Theme:  "Funniest Paddling Photo"
Staff Pick Winner: Rick Thompson

Septembers's Theme:  "Summer Water Fun with Pets"
Staff Pick Winner: Marylyn McLeod

Octobers's Theme:  "Protecting and Cleaning Up Rivers"
Staff Pick Winner: Jenn Collins, Chattahoochee RiverWarden

Novembers's Theme:  "Fabulous Fall Colors on Georgia's Rivers"
Staff Pick Winner: Louis Goodsell

Check out next month's topic and more details about the GRN Monthly Photo Showcase and Staff Pick.


This month, our board member Cari Clark Phelps tells us about a creative approach to event fundraising and friend-raising:

I recently attended an event that has seen great success in major cities around the world. The event is called a "SLIDELUCK" where art, people and food meet. I envision this working for a variety of topics - not just art.

What is Slideluck exactly?
SLIDELUCK is a "slideshow and a potluck dinner that takes place in many cities globally and aims to build and strengthen community around food and art."

While SLIDELUCK is a 'brand' and focuses on art, I can see using this format to help engage audiences and educate them on other topics and messages.

Why does this work? People are comfortable with gatherings and having food, drinks and conversation. These are everyday activities we all engage in - whether at a board meeting, at the office or with family and friends. However, art - or whatever the topic is - might be new to an audience, and therefore not get a great response if positioned as the main goal of a gathering. Enter Slideluck…

Invite people to bring a dish. Ask them to bring a friend. The cost is minimal. $2 if they bring a covered dish to share. $10 if not. All the funds raised can go towards the operating costs of the event - or increase the admission fee and promote what organization the funds will benefit.

Share the recipe. At check in, allow the guest to label their food item. Provide check boxes for vegan, gluten-free, etc. Allow them to say who it was made by. Could be Kroger, could be Mrs Smith!

Conversation. Allow people to mix and mingle for the first hour. Slideluck provided a free beverage upon entry with drink ticket. Slideluck Savannah had a band.

Educate.  Consider allowing sales of products, registration for events, etc to help further educate, fundraise and engage.

Eat. Watch slideshow. Present a slideshow (or series of images) that are supplied by guests, contributors, etc. By allowing more people to participate, they’ll in turn invite more of their friends, growing the audience. Allow each to submit a set number of slides / images including an opening / closing slide to share a website, name and / or statement. Keep it short and sweet. Let the image do the talking.

Slideluck actually produces the slide show (including music as supplied by the artist) and helps provide a format to promote the event (website and other materials). To create a slideluck to this level would involve a lot of work for a small organization. However, there are ways to take this concept and grow it into exactly what works for your volunteer hours, capabilities and skill set. Learn more here!

2013 Presenter Biographies

Robby Arrington
Shirley Banks
Leigh Bost
John Michael Cassidy
Joe Cook
John Craun
Dorinda Dallmeyer
Jason DuPont
Dawn Ellerman
Ben Emmanuel
Alicia Evans
Joe Giunta
Matt Hanner
Neill Herring
John Huth

Kathryn Kolb

Dan MacIntyre

Richard Milligan
Hasib Muhammad
Bryan Nuse
Luke Owen
Keith Parsons
John Quarterman
Christine Rodick
Gordon Rogers
Quint Rogers
Katie Sheehan
Emily Horton
Deborah Sheppard
Ryan Smith
Ken Suttles
Amos Tuck
Erica Weaver
Michael Wolfe


Robby Arrington

Robby is the Altamaha Riverkeeper.  He completed his bachelor of science degree with a major in Environmental Economics and Management and a certificate in water resources at the University of Georgia, and spent his summers in college working for Alaska Recreational Management at the Russian River Ferry on the Kenai River as head captain and assistant manager.

Originally from Albany, Georgia, Robby loves the outdoors, fishing, paddling and hiking and says he is looking forward to applying his education and experience back home in South Georgia.

Shirley Banks

Shirley Banks teaches Buddhist meditation on Sundays at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany in Atlanta. She is currently in graduate school at Emory University where she studies the development of Buddhism in America. She has participated in Paddle Georgia since 2010 and leads hiking trail  maintenance crews for American Hiking Society.

Leigh Bost

Leigh Bost is the store manager of the local Patagonia store in Atlanta, Georgia.  She has a long history in the outdoor industry and with outdoor activities such as paddling and biking.

John Michael Cassidy

John Michael Cassidy is the Outdoor Education Coordinator at Darton State College. He was drawn to the area specifically for the close proximity to the Lower Flint River and its famous inhabitant: the Shoal Bass - which should be named the Georgia State Fish. He has studied and worked throughout the southern United States and East Asia.

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Joe Cook

Joe has served CRBI as a board member since 1999, and began full time work as Executive Director and Riverkeeper in January 2005. He is a nature/landscape photographer and writer whose work has been published in numerous national and regional magazines and is featured in three books, Wildflowers of the Appalachian Trail, Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains and River Song-A Journey Down the Chattahoochee and Apalachicola Rivers. He has studied and reported extensively on water resource issues in Georgia since 1994. He and his daughter and her mother spent 26 days canoeing the 160-mile length of the Etowah River in 2002. In 2007, he was the recipient of a national River Hero award from River Network and in 2011 was named to Georgia Trend's 100 Most Influential Georgians list. He is a 1988 graduate of Berry College where he studied communications and agriculture.

John Craun

I grew up in a home that always had one or more canoes plus a power boat or two. On weekends we often went fishing, swimming, water skiing or paddling. Fifteen years ago I began kayaking and it has become my major outdoor activity - like over a thousand paddling miles each year and over 2,000 miles this year. I have also had the opportunity to participate in paddling adventure races/challenges. In June we moved to the Augusta area and I now paddle a lot on the Savannah River and Thurmond Lake.

Besides paddling I also build my own kayaks, canoes and paddles. I also custom make some for others. I have done a number of presentations before on building kayaks, the Watertribe Everglades Challenge, kayaking Isle Royale National Park, kayaking the Pukaskwa Provincial Park coastline of Lake Superior, and paddling 420 miles on the Des Moines River to raise funds for a wilderness park area. I'm retired, live in North Augusta and have three grown children.

Dorinda Dallmeyer

Dorinda directs the Environmental Ethics Certificate Program at the University of Georgia. For her edited anthology Bartram's Living Legacy: the Travels and the Nature of the South, she was nominated for a Georgia Author of the Year Award. Her most recent book, "Altamaha: A River and Its Keeper," a collaboration with former Altamaha Riverkeeper James Holland and Georgia author Janisse Ray, was released by the University of Georgia Press in June 2012. A member of the GRN board of directors, she is a veteran of Paddle Georgia 2010-2012.

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Jason DuPont

Jason DuPont lives just outside Savannah, Ga. where he manages a private plantation on the coast. After a career of many years in law enforcement,  Jason has returned to his roots and first love in the outdoors. Jason is the founding director of a small environmental organization called Off Grid Expeditions that specializes in river clean up campaigns , and environmental education and awareness.  Off Grid also works with, assists, and is members of  many other riverkeepers and organizations statewide. Since a very young age Jason has always been very active in hunting, fishing, camping, hiking , and paddling.  He has dedicated his life to cleaning up the rivers and great outdoors to help provide a cleaner, healthier environment for our wildlife to live in and for everyone to respect, appreciate and enjoy!

Dawn Ellerman

Dawn is a master naturalist as well as a licensed raptor rehabilitator and wildlife technician. She lives on the river and paddlse frequently, which allows her to experience first hand the beauty and importance of our local beavers.

Ben Emanuel

Ben is the Associate Director of Water Conservation at American Rivers. Prior to that he worked for the Altamaha Riverkeeper as its Oconee River Project Director, based in Athens, Georgia. Ben's work in the Oconee River basin included advocacy and outreach with local governments and businesses on water conservation and efficiency, watershed protection, smart land use planning and promoting river access and recreation.

In 2010, he helped spearhead a community response to a severe toxic chemical spill in Athens' Trail Creek following a fire at a local chemical plant. During his time with ARK, Ben also worked for the statewide Georgia River Network. Prior to that, he was the news editor at Athens' alternative newsweekly, Flagpole Magazine, and was part of a river study project called the Georgia River Survey.

Alicia Evans

Alicia Evans has been a paddler since she was very young. After becoming jealous of her brother's canoeing trip to the Boundary Waters of Minnesota and Canada, she visited the area and fell in love with canoeing the lakes and rivers. She worked as a guide in the Boundary Waters for 3 years before graduating from UGA, and picked up whitewater kayaking in the meantime. She is currently the Outreach and Partnerships Coordinator at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, a position that allows her to introduce a love of water to children and adults. She spends her free time paddling the rivers of the Southeast.

Joe Giunta

Joey Giunta grew up paddling with the Boy Scouts along the Flint River. Joey found his calling teaching environmental education after he spent a summer working with the Forest Service in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota upon graduating from Stetson University in DeLand, FL. He has lead canoe trips for the Chattahoochee Nature Center for 7 years, and is currently the Clean Air Schools Program Manager for the Clean Air Campaign in Atlanta Georgia.

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Neill Herring

Neill Herring is a lobbyist for Sierra Club, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Flint Riverkeeper and Ogeechee Riverkeeper.  He has been lobbying in the Georgia General Assembly since 1980. 

Emily Horton

Emily Horton attended the University of South Alabama where she obtained a B.S. blending environmental science, Spanish, Latin American studies, and communications. After college, Emily served as an environmental educator for the U.S. Peace Corps in Paraguay. Later, she partnered with a Paraguayan nonprofit to publish two conservation photography books. Between publications, she worked as a nonprofit grant writer in Paraguay and as a beekeeper and state environmental scientist in her home state of Alabama. These experiences inspired her to gain the higher education necessary to lead innovative approaches in conservation using an anthropological lens and cross-disciplinary techniques, and she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Integrative Conservation and Anthropology at the University of Georgia. She is especially interested in exploring processes associated with the loss and conservation of biological and cultural diversity using multimedia tools to document and disseminate findings. Emily currently serves as a board member for Coosa Riverkeeper in Alabama and resides in Athens, Georgia.

John Huth (Sunday's raft trip guide)

John Huth arrived at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area in August of 2002 where he serves as a park ranger responsible for publications, website, exhibits, and an occasional Kids' Fishing Day. The day after graduation from Southern Illinois University he began his career with the NPS as a seasonal park technician at Lincoln Home National Historic Site in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois. He got the itch to move west and worked for the Bureau of Land Management as a seasonal recreation technician on the Rouge Wild and Scenic River in Southwestern Oregon and at a campground near Elko, Nevada. Staying with the Bureau in Nevada he worked as a YACC project supervisor and a YACC camp director. In 1987 he returned to the NPS as a park ranger and has worked at Great Basin National Park, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, Virgin Islands National Park, and on to the Chattahoochee.

Kathryn Kolb

Kathryn Kolb’s interest in the environment goes beyond her visual aesthetic. Growing up in rural Virginia and with maternal family roots in the western North Carolina moun­tains, she developed a strong appreciation of the value of natural landscapes. Since the early nineties Kolb has worked to preserve and restore native forest environments and care for urban trees and greenspace. She helped to produce new tree ordinances for DeKalb County and the City of Atlanta, served on the board of Georgia Forestwatch, and helped the City of Atlanta acquire a greenspace in her neighborhood. She was also the principal founder of Keeping It Wild (originally a program of The Wilderness Soci­ety and now an independent nonprofit) dedicated to bringing diverse conservation community partners together in order to connect urban residents to natural lands and promote the protection and restoration of natural and wildlands in Atlanta, Geor­gia and the Southeast.

In 2009–2010, Kolb designed and launched a pho­tog­ra­phy cen­ter and print stu­dio in Serenbe Com­mu­nity in Pal­metto, GA, where she cur­rently serves as found­ing direc­tor. Most recently, Kathryn Kolb Pho­tographs won best of cat­e­gory “Nature Pho­tog­ra­phy” in the JBX Media Inter­na­tional Book Awards 2010.

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Dan MacIntyre

I was born and reared in Atlanta and was educated in the Atlanta public schools, Georgia Tech, the University of North Carolina and the University of Georgia. I have been married since 1964 to Elise. We have two adult sons. My hobbies are paddling, running, skiing, biking, hiking and camping.

In my professional life as an attorney, I assist clients in the creation, acquisition, merger, reorganization and sale of businesses and business entities; and in the legal aspects of conducting business. I assist securities industry clients such as Broker/Dealers and Registered Investment Advisors in legal and regulatory matters.  I assist investors in recovering losses caused by wrongful actions or their stockbrokers and investment advisors.

To integrate my personal and professional lives, I have served for many years as attorney for the Georgia Canoeing Association.  In that capacity, I have been in the forefront of paddlers’ legal and political battles to establish and maintain our rights of passage.  This has led me to be a strong proponent of paddling trails, including serving as the paddle trail representative to the Georgia Recreational Trails Advisory Committee, which has $2,700,000 to give away this year for qualifying trail projects.

Richard Milligan

Richard Milligan is a PhD candidate in geography at the University of Georgia and founding member of the Georgia River Survey, an independent organization that has undertaken ecological surveys by canoe of several rivers in the state. He occasionally writes on environmental and social issues for Flagpole Magazine and recently published an essay on colonial natures in Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature, and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada. In addition to volunteering for conservation groups, Richard organizes with the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition and Freedom University to address injustices for immigrant communities here in Georgia. His dissertation on the Altamaha River System draws upon literary-historical analysis of William Bartram’s Travels, studies of contemporary artistic and literary renditions of the Altamaha, and participatory research with several conservation groups in this basin.

Hasib Muhammad

Hasib Muhammad is an advocate for youth voice. He believes that all young people have a voice to be heard. From a trip overseas to Bangladesh, he has seen the effects of youth voice suppression firsthand, and he does not want that to happen in the United States. He is the Program Director of Greening Forward, an environmental non-profit organization that focuses on empowering young people to impact the environment positively.

In his spare time, Hasib enjoys writing about youth empowerment. His work has been published in The Huffington Post and other outlets. He is also an avid public speaker and has presented at TEDxYouth@TheBeltline.

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Bryan Nuse

Bryan is a PhD candidate at the University of Georgia under Dr. Bob Cooper. Bryan is researching patterns of bird communities in large river floodplains and the vulnerability of bird and plant communities of tidal wetlands of the Altamaha River to sea level rise.

Luke Owen

During his time serving as President, the NPDES Stormwater Training Institute has risen to become Georgia’s number one stormwater and erosion control training provider. After his honorable discharge as Sergeant from the United States Marine Corp in 1981, Mr. Owen attended Colorado Mesa University and graduated with honors in 1985 with a BS in Geology. Since that time, he has provided over 30 years of stormwater and wastewater consulting services throughout the Unites States and Canada. Mr. Owen is a Registered Professional Geologist in California, Georgia, and Tennessee, and presently serves as President of the International Erosion Control Association (IECA) Southeast Chapter, and is an active member of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Georgia Association of Water Professionals (GAWP).

Keith Parsons

Keith is first and foremost a river aficionado; an aquatic ecologist, biologist, salt marsh zealot, and fly fishing maniac…take your pick. Branded a “non-essential, faceless bureaucrat” by Newt Gingrich, an ex-history professor, Keith has soldiered on in state government over the past 25+ years in order to 1) pay the bills and 2) make a difference… time will tell.  Adjunct to bill paying and bureaucratic ballyhooing, serendipity has provided opportunity to volunteer with the Smithsonian over the past nineteen years at the Caribbean Coral Reef Ecosystem field station in Belize, experience and explore well known, as well as little known natural habitats throughout Georgia, and co-found the Georgia River Network. 

John Quarterman

Bio coming soon!

Christine Rodick

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Gordon Rogers

Gordon, his wife Gina, their daughter Jamie Leigh, and their sons Quint & Joe live in the headwaters of the Flint, in Fayette County, and worship at Brooks United Methodist Church.

Gordon was raised in South Georgia, the son of Rev. Sam and Helen Rogers of the South Georgia United Methodist Conference. He graduated high school at Glynn Academy in Brunswick and attended college at Oxford College of Emory University (Oxford), the University of Georgia (Athens), and Skidaway Institute of Oceanography (Savannah). Following his formal schooling, he was employed for ten years by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources at their Coastal Resources Division office in Brunswick, first as a fisheries statistician and later as a marine biologist and analyst. There he conducted basic research, management-oriented research, and marine policy development. Gordon then entered the private sector, as an owner-operator of a waste and recycling facility based in Brunswick. He has also fished professionally: tournaments, instruction, and charters. He was the Executive Director of Satilla Riverwatch Alliance, Inc. and the Satilla Riverkeeper® from 2004 to 2009.  He became Riverkeeper® and Executive Director of Flint Riverkeeper®, Inc., on 1 November 2009.

Gordon works out of Flint Riverkeeper’s truck, the FRk office in Albany, and his office at his family home.

Quint Rogers

Quint Rogers was born in Brunswick, GA and grew up visiting the beach and paddling the Satilla River. He recently moved to Fayette County with his family where he is a member of the class of 2013 at Whitewater High School. He will attend the University of Memphis in the fall and major in both Music Business and Recording technology. Quint is an avid musician, playing several instruments as well as writing his own music and poetry. He is an avid hunter and fisherman, and loves watersports such as kayaking, canoeing, and surfing.

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Katie Sheehan

Katie Sheehan is the Legal Fellow at the River Basin Center. Her work primarily focuses on developing legal and policy solutions to water quality and quantity issues faced by local governments. Katie has developed model ordinances for wetlands protection and conservation subdivisions, conducted community code reviews and revisions to promote low impact development, cataloged green building practices in southeastern communities, and worked on a variety of small projects for local governments and state agencies related to water resources. She is currently developing guidebooks for local management of onsite wastewater treatment systems, local protection of wetlands, and appropriate property tax valuation of properties encumbered by a conservation easement. Katie is currently a member of the Athens-Clarke County Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission, serves on the Board of Directors of the Georgia Land Conservation Center, and is the At-Large Member of the State Bar of Georgia's Environmental Law Section. Her interests include running, kayaking, and fishing. Katie received her J.D. cum laude from the University of Georgia School of Law in 2008.

Deborah Sheppard

Deborah is the Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK) Executive Director, and helped establish the organization in 1999 as the 26th Waterkeeper program in the country. Deborah brought ARK an anchor: a Masters Degree in public policy and 25 years of experience in environmental education and advocacy gained as co-founder and Executive Director of Campaign for a Prosperous Georgia, a consumer advocacy group.

In her earlier studies, Deborah studied Horticulture and Natural History at the University of Georgia and became acquainted with the headwaters of the Altamaha watershed through her work at the UGA Botanical Garden and later as Director of Sandy Creek Nature Center.  Thanks to Deborah's hard work, the Altamaha Riverkeeper has developed vocal advocates across the watershed for the protection of Georgia's water resources, making our watershed a better place to live for all of the inhabitants.

Ryan Smith

Ryan has been active in the outdoors in Southwest Georgia for a multitude of years which fueled his interest in obtaining a degree in Environmental Sciences from Georgia College & State University. He currently is the Outdoor Education Intern and is instrumental with Outdoor Club activities and the Blue Hole Ecology Program.

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Ken Suttles

Ken Suttles is a middle school teacher in Douglas and the sponser of the RiverRats, an environmental club that works to preserve and protect the Altamaha River. In 1997 he swam 170 miles of the Ocmulgee and Altamah to create awareness of the issues that affect Georgias greatest river. In 1998 he spent 49 days easing down the mighty Mississippi. In 2006 he was named Georgia Project Wet Outstanding Teacher Of The Year. At this time he has been on 23 rivers on 76 trips, boated over 3000 river miles, and has introduced over 350 passengers to Georgia Rivers.

Amos Tuck

Amos Tuck has been a fish fanatic and river enthusiast his entire life. Growing up in Cedartown, GA, Amos’ childhood was spent exploring the upper Coosa River basin. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Fisheries and Wildlife with an area of emphasis on aquatic sciences. He has worked with both the DNR Wildlife Resources Division and UGA Fisheries Department as a fish and mussel researcher. He began working with the Coosa River Basin Initiative as the Program Coordinator in March of 2012. His month long, 200 mile Odyssey through the upper Coosa basin has reached around 50,000 people through newspaper articles, blogs, and multi media presentations.

Erica Weaver

 Erica Weaver is a citizen-activist dedicated to the concept that the “environment is wherever I am”. To that end she strives to be a responsible steward of the Earth and its resources and works to encourage others toward this goal.

Michael Wolfe

Michael is a native fish enthusiast and hobbyist.  His interest in native fishes began in 1998 with a small aquarium of stream fishes for his daughter while he was living in Alabama.  From the beginning, he has been interested in learning as much as possible about the fishes and the habitats that are right here in our own backyards.
A member since 1998, He is presently the Secretary and Chair of the Board of Directors and the Georgia Regional Representative for the North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA).  Founded in 1972, NANFA is a not-for-profit, tax-exempt corporation dedicated to the appreciation, study and conservation of the continent's native fishes.  Their documented Objectives include a desire to increase and disseminate knowledge about North America's native fishes and their habitats, promote the conservation of native fishes and the protection/ restoration of natural habitats; and advance the captive husbandry of North America's native fishes for the educational, scientific, and conservation benefits it affords.
Michael is currently working on a project to retrace the steps of historical ichthyologists in the state of Georgia.  He is exploring the type localities of the forty two (42) freshwater native fishes discovered and described in Georgia.

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Weekend for Rivers Presentations 2013

Castor canadensis

Presenter: Dawn Ellerman
An overview of the life history and ecology of the American Beaver.

Lower Flint River - Education and Recreation

Presenters: John Michael Cassidy and Ryan Smith            Contributor: Matt Hanner
The presenters will highlight programming and recreational activities on the Lower Flint River that are offered by Darton State College to the student body and local community. The Flint River and its major tributaries provide an excellent classroom for multiple educational/recreational programs: “Blue Hole Ecology,” academic classes, Outdoor Adventure Club outings, and service projects. We will also highlight an overview of the environmental, geographical, and social elements that contribute to the make-up of the Lower Flint River.  The Lower Flint, like the Suwannee River, is steeped in history, large springs, karst environment, and abundant flora/fauna typical of the Floridian Aquifer.

Our Common Waters

Presenter: Leigh Bost
Leigh will talk about Patagonia and how the company uses their mission statement to generate environmental action.  Every couple of years, Patagonia takes on a campaign around an environmental issue.  This last campaign focuses on the scarcity of water and broken rivers: Our Common Waters campaign.  Leigh will also talk about Patagonia's local environmental efforts to help our rivers in Georgia.

Adventure Races and Homemade Boats

Presenter: John Craun
There are no major long distance paddling races (adventure type) in Georgia at this time. The Savannah River between Augusta and Savannah would be an ideal place for a long distance/adventure type paddling race. John is working with the Savannah River Keeper, community organizations, and businesses to put together a major race of this type. John makes his own kayaks, canoes and paddles. He will have a few of them with him and talk some about boat building as well a the Savannah River race.

A Call to Action

Presenter: Dorinda Dallmeyer
A Macon native, Dorinda Dallmeyer describes how her yearning to travel on the Altamaha River figured in her childhood in the 1950s and 60s. In 2012, she was finally able to live that dream as part of Paddle Georgia 2012. Her experiences were both dreamworld and nightmare, spurring her efforts to protect the Altamaha and all Georgia's rivers for generations yet to come.

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Cleaning Up the Wilderness

Presenter: Jason DuPont
Off Grid Expeditions is Georgia’s newest river protection organization whose mission is to to one day be able to paddle the rivers of Georgia trash-free! Founded by best friends Jason DuPont and Brian Wooten in 2007 to fight the ever-growing concern of trash in our rivers and waterways, Off Grid Expeditions and a small group of volunteers year round to clean up our rivers.

Zen and the Art of River Mapping

Presenter: Ben Emanuel
I've been fortunate in 2012 to have been tasked with doing deep learning about a sub-basin of a Georgia river. Part of researching river flows and water infrastructure in the Upper Flint has been the task of "permit immersion," a term coined by Gordon Rogers. Permit immersion is the process of retrieving all municipal water withdrawal permits in the Upper Flint basin from the Georgia EPD. Part of the process has been learning from staff at public water utilities how their water systems function–with more complexity than you might think–and seeking out the Zen state of understanding the "plumbing" of water infrastructure on a basin-wide scale.

After lots of coffee and twists and turns, I got there. This is the story of how I learned the plumbing.

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Getting Their Feet Wet: Paddle Georgia Youth Program

Presenters: Alicia Evans and Joey Giunta
Take a minute to think back to your first meaningful experience in the outdoors. We would bet that water was involved somehow. Did your experiences as a youth help shape your feelings of the outdoors as an adult? For five years we have been volunteering with Georgia River Network to lead under-served youth from around Georgia on Paddle Georgia. In this session we'll share the history of this effort, research on children and the outdoors, some of our favorite stories and quotes from our participants, and talk about what the future holds for this program.

Nature, Beauty and Math: How Science and Art Arrive at the Same Conclusions

Presenter: Kathryn Kolb
Kathryn describes the interesting intersection where aesthetically beautiful design, healthy ecosystems and the fascinating math of circularity meet as one and the same.

The still evolving history of the legal right to paddle down a river, from the Magna Carta to Ichuawaynochaway

Presenter: Dan MacIntyre
I have given bits and pieces of this at various presentations I have made through the years, but never had the time and context to do it in a systematic manner.  I find it fascinating, but then again, I am a lawyer.  At a recent conference in Porterdale, I told more of this story than I ever have before, and several people told me afterward, in a way that I think was more than just being polite, that they enjoyed it.  The bottom line of this presentation is advocacy for paddling trails.

Navigating Uncertainty to Strengthen Connections with these and Future Rivers

Presenter: Richard Milligan
The IPCC, EPA, NOAA, and USGS each forecast escalating challenges for managing southeastern water resources in the near future. Climate models suggest the need for rapid changes in water and energy resource governance in our region if we are to avoid serious ecological, economic, and social consequences of water scarcity. Across the state, folks are working to adapt to stark realities of climate change which include decreasing water supply and increasing stress on Georgia’s waters. Responding to these challenges requires sustained and energetic vigilance, especially as we navigate the denial and demoralization that can rise on a flood of dire projections. However, in our commitments to make change, it is important that we also pause to reckon with the underlying frameworks that orient our conservation politics. Anyone working to protect Georgia’s rivers knows that these shifting conditions are bound to exacerbate unsustainable relations we’ve maintained with our rivers for too long. A growing number of geographers have raised concerns about the broader social ramifications of particular ways of framing environmental issues. While such diversion may seem untimely as we drift nearer shoals of ecological emergency, revisiting foundational environmental frameworks can help us to strategically connect our work with the currents of other social and political action for change. This presentation will meander through some academic discussions along these lines and outline my own research on the Altamaha River System, hopefully stirring up productive and recharging eddies for reflection. The goal is to open dialogue about strategies for broadening and deepening our connections to rivers as we continue in efforts to branch out to diverse communities in our watersheds, to steer our leaders along courses of responsible action, and to draw more people into the riparian state of mind.

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On the Satilla in the Spring Flood

Presenters: Bryan Nuse, Rick Milligan, and Ben Emmanuel
Ten years ago, the three of us initiated an attempt to survey Georgia’s rivers by canoe. We wanted to create a sort of snapshot of the rivers’ ecology by going out there and writing down everything we could about plants, birds, and whatever we could set down in our Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks. We hoped to survey every river in the state, and we planned to survey them in the most minute detail. Eventually we came to a more-or-less sustainable protocol that we have since conducted on the Flint, Ocmulgee, Oconee, Altamaha, and Savannah rivers, but as we set out on our first river, the Satilla, we were both over-ambitious and under-prepared. The Satilla taught us a few lessons about beans and rice, mosquitoes, chiggers, poison ivy, the explosive fecundity of Georgia’s riparian environments, and taking it slow.

In addition to recounting some of the wonders we experienced paddling and naturalizing for about twenty days on Georgia’s largest blackwater river—its thick swamps and remarkable sandhills, its Ogeechee limes and plenitude of prothonotary warblers—this talk will review some of the hijinks and the hardships that came to pass when a few novices set out after a pretty heavy flood for Woodbine from way up in Atkinson county on a roughly 200-mile natural history excursion down the Satilla.

Gaining Public Support for Protecting Water

Presenter: Luke Owen
The presentation will remind the audience that we have forgotten, or not been made aware of, America’s environmental and economic track record due to poor land and water management practices.

Historically, Georgia watersheds were converted from pristine biologically rich gardens and waterways, into polluted pools and contaminated ditches so full of sediment, human waste and chemicals that they were unfishable, unswimable, unthinkable!  Many of our watersheds suffered beyond their individual ability to clean themselves out.  Unfortunately, when people observe many of our Georgia Rivers during or after a rain event, they see muddy water and believe that’s the way it’s always been.  Most people do not know that two hundred years ago, well before the industrial revolution, the agricultural age (timber harvesting and crop production) created much of the Georgia muddy water that we see today. Top soils were washed off of the uplands in such large volumes as to fill up valleys, creating bogs and wetlands, where creeks, streams and rivers once freely flowed.  Later, in the 20th century, human waste and chemicals created a similar catastrophe.  Modern day construction has heaped more sediment onto an already stressed watershed. Today, many countries outside of America’s borders are suffering through the same environmental tragedies that America has already recovered from. The country of Haiti, for instance, has lost most of its top soils due to deforestation. The absence of top soils has created an environmental and resultant economic disaster, from which it is almost impossible to find the way out. In America however, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws are responsible for a recovery of our land and water resources unrivaled in the world today.

River Poetry

Presenter: Keith Parsons
Original poetry by Keith Parsons.

Protecting South Georgia Rivers

Presenter: John Quarterman
This presentation will chronicle a group of South Georgia  citizens’ efforts to protect the Willachoochee, Withlachoochee, Alapaha and Little rivers in South Georgia. John Quarterman will talk about why a watershed group was needed and the lessons learned in the first year of protecting these special watersheds.

River, Wash Me Clean

Presenter: Christine Rodick
"River, wash me clean" is an audio and video collection of stories told by people who have either been baptized on rivers, were part of river baptisms or have had experiences on rivers that they would characterize as religious.  Religious in this sense does not necessarily mean that one has to be affiliated with any particular religious group.  While the focus is on Southeastern rivers, there are a few international stories.  The purpose of the presentation at Weekend for Rivers is to give a short historical perspective of how local rivers were a part of religious life, and how they remain so today.  We will not show or air any of the stories during this presentation, as films and audio are currently being edited.  We are looking for a few more stories to include in this project.  If you are interested in sharing your story, and it meets our criteria for inclusion, we would like to hear it.

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When a Creek Ceases to Flow, What Happens Next?

Presenter: Gordon Rogers
When a creek ceases to flow, a predictable series of physical and biological events unfold. While humans may cause the disruption, much of the change occurs in the non-human realm. However, what also happens is a subtle set of cultural and social events, disruptions, frequently not chronicled, and generally poorly understood outside of a small group of people. Gordon will explore the human and non-human effects of what happens when we dewater our creeks and rivers, and offer hope for healing.

The Blackwater Song

Presenter: Quint Rogers
A poem about the Satilla River.

New EPD Local Wetland Protection Guidebook

Presenter: Katie Sheehan
Protecting water and the values it provides means preserving both is quantity and quality.  Wetlands, which are present in every part of Georgia but are suffering impacts from land use changes, development, climate change, and other human-induced stressors, are unsurpassed in their influence on water quantity and quality.  They also provide a myriad of other services, such as habitat, flood control, and recreation.  Federal laws are in place to protect some wetlands, but in recent years the coverage of these laws has been diminished.  Even wetlands that are covered by federal laws can still be legally degraded or converted so long as a permit is obtained.  States may enact stricter wetland protection laws, but most, including Georgia, have not done so.  Local governments can, however, adopt their own non-regulatory and regulatory wetland protection programs to conserve and restore these vital ecosystems.  Indeed, in many ways local governments are uniquely equipped to protect the wetlands in their communities.  

In collaboration with the University of Georgia River Basin Center (RBC) (part of the Odum School of Ecology), Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division (EPD) of the Department of Natural Resources has developed a new guidance document for Georgia communities interested in developing regulatory and non-regulatory wetland protection programs.  The guidebook, written by RBC Legal Fellow Katie Sheehan, provides basic information on wetlands, existing protection tools and authority, non-regulatory and regulatory protection programs, funding opportunities, and tips for avoiding legal challenges.  It also includes case studies on existing community wetland programs throughout the country.

This presentation will provide an overview of some of the more commonly utilized non-regulatory and regulatory local wetland protection programs, including inventories, restoration, incentives, federal permit verification, local permit programs, and zoning.  This basic overview will give participants a general idea of the breadth of options available for protecting community wetlands, and will be presented in an interactive manner that engages participants.

A River's Education

Presenter: Ken Suttles
This session will focus on what I have learned from from my river experiences and how I used that education to play a small part in helping to promote the wonders of Georgia's greatest river. I will compare and contrast the Mississippi with the Altamaha River and hopefully expand your appreciation of how fortunate we are in Georgia and why the work we are all doing is so important.

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A River’s Story: Reclaiming the Altamaha

Presenters: Robby Arrington
This presentation will feature a video about the pollution of Georgia's largest river system by Rayonier Inc. in Jesup, Georgia,  which  offers opportunities for  improving water quality through the new discharge permit.  ARK’s new Riverkeeper Robby Arrington will give an update on the Rayonier discharge and permit process, and talk about ARK's plans to establish volunteer water quality monitoring throughout the Altamaha watershed.

Amos’ Odyssey: A Journey through the Upper Coosa River Basin

Presenter: Amos Tuck
In this presentation, Amos will discuss his 200 mile paddle trip down the Conasauga, Coosawattee, Oostanaula, and Coosa Rivers. The presentation will involve a slide show of photography and a few videos and will cover highlights of the trip emphasizing the incredible biodiversity and unique beauty of the basin.

Swim the River

Presenter: Emily Horton
This presentation will introduce the audience to the beauty, biodiversity, and importance of the Coosa River shared by Georgia and Alabama. It will provide a brief overview of the Coosa River and will include original music, inspired by a local citizen who is upset that her grandchildren can no longer swim in the Coosa like she did as a child due to pollution. During the song, a slideshow will be played containing inspiring photographs that Emily and other river advocates have taken of the Coosa River Basin in both Alabama and Georgia. To close, the audience will be asked a trivia question related to the presentation and the winner will receive a river-inspired pottery piece, lovingly crafted by Emily.

Keeping it Wild

Presenter: Erica Weaver
How we do or don't think about water in our everyday lives and the effect it has on streams and rivers.

Legislation on Water Issues at the 2013 GA General Assembly

Presenter: Neill Herring
Neill will be giving an update on legislation related to water issues at this year's GA General Assembly.

Fishes of the Chattahoochee

Presenter: Michael Wolfe
Michael Wolfe from the North American Native Fishes Association (NANFA) will provide a brief overview of some of the lesser known native fishes found in the Chattahoochee.  These will include a variety of fishes that normally go unnoticed by most people as they pass the creeks and streams that flow into the Chattahoochee.  He will also provide some life history and biological details about how these fishes go about making a living in the steam and what you can do to observe them and help them.

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FAQ: Hiring

Question: Our organization is starting the process of hiring another employee.  Any tips for hiring the right person for the job?

Answer: Congratulations! No doubt you’ve put a lot of work into getting here-- I know you and your board have worked hard to raise the money to make it possible.  Hiring a new employee is exciting, but it can also be nerve-wracking: you’re going to put a lot of resources into training and paying this new person—you want to make sure he or she can take the ball and run with it.

Well, there are no guarantees that your new hire will be everything you wished for and more, but there are a lot of things you can do before the hiring process even begins that will help ensure that you pick the best available candidate.

First, think through what you want the new hire to be doing as completely as possible before you write the job description. Consider not only new work that needs to be done, but also how to redistribute what is already on your plate.  Get suggestions and hands-on help from your board, think about what KIND of person you’d like to work with or would be best suited for the job, look at job descriptions posted by other organizations, do a lot of reading about the best interview questions to ask…. Give yourself plenty of time to do this task, because in hiring, preparation is key.

Secondly, when you start the hiring process, make sure you have a hiring committee who can interview applicants with you.  You’d be surprised at what other people notice when talking to a candidate—the more eyes and ears you have, the better. A prescreening phone interview with each candidate will probably be helpful in addition to an in-person interview.  Also, ask for at least three professional references, and take the time to call each of them and ask a bunch of questions—don’t be shy!

And finally, after you’ve made the hiring decision, set your new employee up for success by setting aside plenty of time to train them.

Of course, there are many, many books and websites about hiring the right person—one we like here at Georgia River Network is Match by Dan Erling.

Good luck with your new hire!