Apalachicola RiverTrek

Apalachicola RiverTrek 2024

This year’s river trip is October 23-27.
Meet the Team!

Click photos below to learn why these volunteers are paddling 107+ miles to protect the Apalachicola River!

All funds raised by the paddlers go to support the work of Apalachicola Riverkeeper.

Shirley Kasser Creech
Shirley Kasser Creech

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT THE ENTIRE TEAM!

Paula Carroll
Paula Carroll

Paula joins the 2014 River Trek Team with a renewed inspiration and love for this mighty river! She reflects on her transformative experience during River Trek 2023, which solidified her dedication to protecting this biodiverse area. The Apalachicola River Basin is one of six biodiversity hotspots in the United States and is home to many species that are unique to the area. Nothing will give you a greater appreciation for the beauty, strength and energy of this river, than spending 5 days and 4 nights of primitive camping, and paddling 107 miles down this enchanting River of Life! The Apalachicola River holds a special place in Paula’s heart. She has spent countless hours camping, fishing, searching for pottery and exploring the river’s diverse ecosystem. Her love for this river and its surroundings fuel her commitment to preserving it for future generations. Embarking on her second ‘Trek offers her another opportunity to learn and share more about the river’s value and why it is important to invest our time and talents into the preservation, protection and restoration of this precious natural resource.

Click here to support Paula’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Rebecca Means
Rebecca Means

Rebecca Means is an ecologist and science educator with a passion for rock climbing, food, live music, and travel. She participated in her first RiverTrek last year as a celebration of turning 50. And she fell in love with the long paddle days full of camaraderie,  the fat threeridge mussel, the outpouring of support from communities along the river, and all the work that Apalachicola Riverkeeper does to advocate for the river.  She is excited to be a part of this new team and looks forward to learning more about the River and her fellow teammates…and compiling an even longer bird list than last year!

Click here to support Rebecca’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Ashley Leonard
Ashley Leonard

Ashley’s journey has been as diverse and dynamic as the landscapes she’s called home. From the open prairies of Iowa to the majestic mountains of Oregon, Colorado, and the Hudson River Valley in New York, each place has woven threads into her adventurous spirit. Several years ago, she found herself in the charming coastal town of Apalachicola, where her passion for restoring neglected homes reflects her dedication to revitalization and care. Beyond her adventures, Ashley’s heart beats for service and community, building homes in Guatemala, working at international malnutrition centers, organizing community food drives, and countless community dental events. Now, as she embarks on a kayaking trek with the Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Ashley continues her journey of advocacy and connection. She champions conservation and raises awareness about the importance of preserving our natural habitats, all while nurturing her love for the riverfront community.

Click here to support Ashley’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Marie Fraser
Marie Fraser

Marie Fraser is a former middle school English teacher and backpacking guide. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in Special Education at Florida State. Growing up in South Georiga, Marie often visited the bay with family and has always felt connected to the beauty and rich history and inspired by Old Florida landscapes.

Marie has lived in Tallahassee for 10 years and enjoys yoga, running, and reading. She and her husband recently began their own oyster farm in Skipper Bay, near Panacea. Their new business venture grew from a shared love of the outdoors and a passion for environmental stewardship. Marie is excited to educate others about sustainable aquaculture and grateful for the opportunity to learn more about the dynamic interconnectivity of our bay through her new adventure as a member of the Rivertrek team.

Click here to support Marie’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Caitlin McCauley
Caitlin McCauley

Caitlin McCauley is an adventure cyclist with Chicago roots. Her first experience with the wetlands of Florida was when she rode her bike from Jacksonville, Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Captivated by the unique biodiversity and tropical climate Florida had to offer, she detoured north up highway 65 into Tate's Hell. She pushed her bike past palmettos and slash pine and through puddles stained rich amber brown by pine needles. She marveled at the delicate tendrils of Spanish Moss that hung over, the massive pinecones scattered from long leaves and cypress knees that peaked out from the waters. After hours of exploring she sought refuge along Wright Lake and fell asleep to a lullaby of frogs and crickets. This was the strange new world she was looking for. Eventually, Caitlin made her way around the perimeter of Mobile Bay and into the city of New Orleans. Numerous other rivers, canals and coasts have driven her trails since, such as the Thames River across England, the Danube from Germany to Hungary, the rocky roast of the Irish Sea and the canals that stretch between DC and Pittsburgh. She can't wait to catch up with the mighty Apalachicola River and learn from other like-minded individuals who respect her (the River) just as much.  This is Caitlin’s second RiverTrek.

Click here to support Caitlin’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Chris Watkins
Chris Watkins

Chris Watkins grew up on the banks of Illinois’s largest damn-built lake and has been in search of wilder waterways ever since. After moving to Tallahassee in 2020 to pursue a PhD in Ecopoetry and Gender Studies, Chris fell in love with Florida water and has written extensively about the state’s rivers and springs, sinks and marshes, swamps, sloughs, and coastlands.

This is Chris’s second Rivertrek campaign; their first (2023) shaped not only who they are as a writer and paddler, but as a person. Chris is now a co-chair of Riverkeeper’s Development Committee and a regular volunteer at ARK events. During this year’s trek and fundraising campaign, Chris is excited to help—in a tangible way—to protect and preserve one of Florida’s most beautiful, wild places, and is also excited to break down more barriers between the self and the more-than-human world. As Natalie Diaz writes, “The river is my sister—I am its daughter./It is my hands when I drink from it,/ my own eye when I am weeping. . . /The river says, Open your mouth to me,/ and I will make you more.”

Click here to support Chris’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Nithya Guthikonda
Nithya Guthikonda

Nithya grew up exploring and birding her local Line Creek in Georgia, a tributary that serendipitously feeds into the ACF River system. A former field trip leader for Birds Georgia, she is currently an undergraduate at Yale University pursuing a B.S in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and History of Art. She is enraptured by the biodiversity of the Apalachicola River Basin, frequenting the Apalachicola National Forest to photograph native flora and conducting fire ecology research at the Tall Timbers Research Station this summer. Nithya is eager to become a part of the RiverTrek family and advocate for river rights through learning about the human and natural communities sustained by Apalachicola River ecology.

Click here to support Nithya’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Tom Herzog
Tom Herzog

A former board president of Apalachicola Riverkeeper, Tom is totally committed to the mission of the organization. He believes wholeheartedly this support is an important way to help the Apalachicola River remain the treasured resource it is today.  Tom is an avid North Florida outdoorsman and world traveler who does it all.  In fact, it is a rare occasion to find him indoors.  Fishing, camping, boating, cycling, hiking, hunting—on the water or in the woods is where Tom prefers to spend his time. He has paddled the Apalachicola River many times over and explores her meandering tributaries, such as Graham Creek, regularly.  Tom started the Katie Herzog-Apalachicola Riverkeeper educational scholarship to honor his wife Katie’s life of putting her care into action by protecting our region’s precious natural resources, especially the Apalachicola River and Bay. Tom is eager to again participate in RiverTrek and to be fully involved in protection of the mighty Apalach’ and the Bay.

Click here to support Tom’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Lee Rigby
Lee Rigby

Lee lived in the Ft Myers area where he worked in the elevator industry as an elevator technician, installer, and a State inspector. During his years there, he enjoyed paddling the local waterways and Gulf of Mexico. After moving to Tallahassee in 1995 to work in the office of the Bureau of Elevator Safety, Lee found an abundance of springs, lakes, rivers, and creeks to explore, including the Apalachicola River.

The Apalachicola River and its tributaries is a Wonder-Full waterway that is one of the most undeveloped waterways in Florida, making a home for numerous species of wildlife that rely on the river and its floodplain. In two previous RiverTreks Lee learned a lot about the ecosystem and the various species that thrive there, and the positive effects this river has on much of the rest of Florida. Lee says: “I am glad to help bring attention to the work that the Apalachicola Riverkeeper is doing to help protect and restore the river and its ecosystem”.

Click here to support Lee’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Doug Alderson
Doug Alderson

Soon after his family moved to Tallahassee from Chicago in 1968, Doug learned firsthand about the Apalachicola River and Bay, how its rich waters and scenic beauty could feed both stomachs and souls. He participated in his first RiverTrek in 2010 and the river has called him several times since, especially now since this dynamic resource is threatened on several fronts. “We need Apalachicola Riverkeeper more than ever,” he says, “Please help in any way you can.” Doug Alderson is the author of several award-winning books, including Florida’s Rivers, Florida’s Dynamic Coast, Wild Florida Waters, Waters Less Traveled, New Dawn for the Kissimmee River, Encounters with Florida’s Endangered Wildlife and several others. The Apalachicola River and Bay is featured in several of them.

Click here to support Doug’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Benny Gresch
Benny Gresch

From the historic banks of the Hudson River in Hyde Park, New York, to the tranquil waters of Apalachicola, Benny’s life has been a journey through nature’s most beautiful canvases. As a boy scout, he learned the value of camaraderie and the skills to thrive outdoors. His childhood was marked by memorable canoe trips, where he, along with his aunt and brother, would paddle to remote locations and immerse themselves in primitive camping. These early adventures in the wilderness of the Hudson Valley instilled in him a lifelong passion for the great outdoors.

Today, Benny splits his time between the place of his upbringing and the coastal town of Apalachicola, where he has found a second home since 2019. His love for camping, fishing, hiking, paddleboarding, and kayaking finds a perfect backdrop in both locales. The Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s mission resonates with his own values, and it is here that he embarks on the RiverTrek, not just for the thrill of the sport, but to advocate for the conservation of these precious waterways. Through this endeavor, Benny aims to connect with like-minded individuals, share his knowledge, and contribute to the preservation of the natural beauty he has admired throughout his life.

Click here to support Benny’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Greg Krivonak
Greg Krivonak

Greg grew up in Southern New Jersey. Water has always been a part his life, sailing small lakes, rivers, and coastal waterways. A former kayak guide in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, Greg has explored Alaska extensively. His longest kayak trip was an extended two-person, 1100-mile journey, along the Sea of Cortez, in the Baja Peninsula of Mexico.

As a fisheries biologist in Pacific NW and Alaska, there began his interest in building boats, which has led to a lifetime of living on the water. Greg finished building a 34’ sailboat in 2002, Willow, which he and his wife Bonnie lived on, cruising the North and South Pacific extensively. Greg now resides in Apalachicola. He is excited to again explore the Apalachicola River system and beyond, welcoming the opportunity to coexist on the river with a group of like-minded people to bring awareness to a unique and precious river system. His second RiverTrek trip, Greg will again row a boat he built, a unique Angus Row Cruiser expedition boat.

Click here to support Greg’s 2024 RiverTrek!

Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s RiverTrek fundraiser-awareness campaign supports the advocacy, education and outreach work of Apalachicola Riverkeeper–100% of funds raised by the volunteer team members support our work. The RiverTrek team will travel the 107-mile length of the Apalachicola River in late October. Each night the paddlers camp along the river’s bank. They meet with historians, ecologists and other experts along the way.

Prior to launch, the volunteer paddlers seek donations in their respective communities from friends, family members, businesses and community members to support the work of Apalachicola Riverkeeper. The team also works together in a variety of community events that we hope to see you at. Be sure to sign up for email updates. All funds raised support Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s advocacy, education, and outreach work.

Questions?  Please contact Georgia Ackerman, RiverTrek Coordinator, [email protected]

Enjoy some RiverTrek videos and other related short videos from the WFSU Ecology Blog.

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