RiverTrek is Apalachicola Riverkeeper’s annual awareness and fundraising campaign supporting our outreach, education and advocacy efforts.
RiverTrek volunteers bring needed attention to the tremendous ecological importance of Florida’a Apalachicola River, floodplain and bay while raising funds for the on-going work of Apalachicola Riverkeeper. On the RiverTrek journey (October 12-16), the kayak paddlers travel the entirety of the Apalachicola River in 5 days, averaging 20+ miles per day with additional side-trips. Each night the paddlers set up camp along the river. Along the journey, the team meets with historians, local officials, naturalists and scientists to learn more about the connectivity of this dynamic river and bay system. RiverTrek team members become ambassadors for the Apalachicola River and Bay. Please help the RiverTrek 2022 team meet their fundraising goal. All funds directly support our outreach, education and advocacy work.
MEET THE 2022 RIVERTREK TEAM!
CLICK ON PHOTOS TO MEET and SUPPORT INDIVIDUAL TEAM MEMBERS.
As a child, John nearly drowned. What might have become a phobia instead bloomed into a passion for
water, especially rivers. As a young lawyer, John represented citizens seeking to limit barge fleeting
along the bluffs and wetlands of the Mississippi River. John has lived near the water ever since and has
continued working to protect such treasures. On retirement, John and his wife Dodie launched a multi-
year exploration aboard their trawler Barefoot Lady that covered more than 10,000 miles of inland and
tidal rivers, lakes, bays, marshes, and coastlines in the U.S. and Canada. Now John lives in Apalachicola,
Florida and spends hundreds of hours a year on the Apalachicola River, mostly in human-powered
craft. For him, the river is both a classroom and a place of worship. An active volunteer, he sees
supporting the Apalachicola Riverkeeper stewardship mission as reciprocity for the many gifts received
from the Apalachicola and all the other rivers that have so enriched his life.
CLICK BELOW TO SUPPORT JOHN:
Having lived the majority of her life in this area, Kim has never “strayed” far from our waters. Her favorite views are of our shorelines and especially the marshes teeming with wildlife. Kim thinks a pivotal event that sparked her desire to become actively involved in the Riverkeepers was the Deep Water Horizon oil disaster. Looking at our local waters, Kim could not fathom the idea of that magnitude happening here. Kim does however remember the floating yellow booms that littered Apalachicola Bay in the event oil reached our area estuaries, tributaries and river. So many of us enjoy recreation and even harvesting seafood from these waters, but Apalachicola Bay is only as healthy as the river that feeds it. We ARE the stewards of this River! We’re the Riverkeepers! Kim is beyond excited and proud to be participating in the RiverTrek for her second year as they continue to fight for the survival of the Apalachicola River. Please support this vitally important program!
CLICK BELOW TO SUPPORT KIM:
Cameron Barton believes everything is connected and the best way to learn about a river is to explore it.
A mother and science teacher with deep family roots in coastal north Florida, she is a passionate
supporter of Apalachicola Riverkeeper. Her students dive into a series of charts and graphs, water flow
data, photographs, field books, historical documents and maps related to the Apalachicola River basin
and its ecology. Understanding the environment of this unique ecosystem and the river’s health is
essential. This special place comprises the most ecologically diverse natural area in the southeastern
United States. The significant variety of species of plants and animals, many of which are rare and
endemic, and some of which are considered threatened or endangered, are worth protecting. Cameron
says, “The river needs us to be conscientious caretakers.” Sharing with the community and fostering
learning opportunities about the importance of the Apalachicola River Basin and Bay is central to why
Cameron looks forward to paddling with this RiverTrek team. This will be Cameron’s fourth RiverTrek.
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Born and raised in Alabama, Cameron attempted to branch out from the Deep South. Eventually she realized that this cultural melting pot of “Hey y’all” oddballs is a unique community that will bend over backwards to give you the shirt off their back. Speaking of unique, there’s also a group of folks that are somehow willing and even eager to paddle 107 miles over 5 days to celebrate the Apalachicola River. Instilled by her father with respect and love for our Earth, Cameron knows she’ll be among friends she just hasn’t met yet on this Rivertrek. A marine biologist for over 10 years, Cameron is ready to shake off the salt and embrace becoming a full-time river rat as the Director of Outreach and Advocacy at Apalachicola Riverkeeper. After volunteering with the group for several years, including with RiverTrek support crew, this will be Cameron’s first full RiverTrek and she is dedicating this paddle to her father.
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Deb grew up in Maitland, Florida during the Walt Disney World boom. After college, she set out on her life’s adventure working towards conservation of forests, water and wildlife in California and the Pacific Northwest. In her mid-twenties, she lived in a small, rural town in the Cascades Mountains. The love for that small community was the launch point to rural Paraguay, where she served for 2 years as a Peace Corps Volunteer implementing sustainable agriculture and reforestation projects with farming families. Since moving to Tallahassee in 2001, Deb has spent years learning about the Apalachicola River and Bay, as a graduate student, a wildlife conservation program manager and as a land conservation professional. In her current job with DEP’s Division of State Lands, she is part of the team working to protect 44,000 acres within the Apalachicola River Basin. Deb joined RiverTrek 2022 to help raise awareness and support for conservation of the Apalachicola River and Bay, alongside many partners who have been instrumental in long-term efforts to protect and restore this biodiversity hotspot.
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Shirley grew up playing in the creeks and bayous of rural Mississippi. Her love of wilderness and water is deeply embedded in her soul. When she moved to north Florida several years ago, she became fascinated with the ecology and geology of the Apalachicola River, as well as other amazing wild places in the area. As an active leader with the Florida Trail Association, Shirley volunteers her time to trail maintenance, as well as leading many hikes and paddles. Any day in the woods or on the water is a good day, and being able to help others enjoy and love our beautiful wild places is better than ice cream! Shirley is ridiculously excited about her first RiverTrek! To be paddling with fellow volunteers, learning more about this amazing river, and helping to protect it through education and donations is a dream come true.
CLICK BELOW TO SUPPORT SHIRLEY:
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 Katie’s life of putting care into action in protecting our region’s precious natural resources, especially the Apalachicola River and Bay. He is eager to again participate in RiverTrek and to be fully involved in protection of the mighty Apalach’ and the Bay.
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Kai grew up along the Willamette River in Oregon and spent her early career in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. A research professor at the University of South Florida, Kai co-leads the Ecohydrology Research Group. Her current research is focused on water-quality restoration in the Indian River Lagoon watershed in Florida and on groundwater support for streams on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. She has been particularly honored to have mentored many female students over the years, many of whom have gone on to inspiring careers in service to the environment. Kai is excited to learn more about Florida’s panhandle and the Apalachicola River watershed and bring new insights to her courses and research. She is especially looking forward to paddling alongside and learning from others who are motivated to protect and bring awareness to the natural resources of this spectacular state.
CLICK BELOW TO SUPPORT KAI:
Dave loves paddling and camping. He says, “this Riverkeeper trip is a creative way to raise funds and expand awareness about our environment and natural resources.” Quite a few years ago, he spent several summers paddling and camping in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota. Since then, he’s taken day trips on rivers and lakes around the country. Now retired, he’s able to devote more time to camping and volunteering. Dave has been active with the Florida Trail Association, Florida Guardian Ad Litum Foundation, and Bay County Sheriff Search and Rescue. He’s also held fundraising positions with Catholic Charities and Green Chimneys Inc. Dave looks forward to promoting RiverTrek goals to family, friends, and residents of the Florida panhandle.
CLICK BELOW TO SUPPORT DAVE:
This is Alex’s fourth RiverTrek and she is excited to be able to support Apalachicola Riverkeeper again this year. Each section of this river system has been special to her family: her parents were raised along the banks of the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers, she spent her youth in North Georgia, paddling white water on Chattahoochee River, and she raised her daughter near the Apalachicola. Alex believes that “whether she is forging through the mountains, roaming through the flatlands or dancing to the sea, the Apalachicola- Chattahoochee-Flint River system has remained true. She has given so graciously, and we have always taken from her so freely. It is time that we give something back so that generations to come will know this river system as we have.” Alex participated in RiverTreks 2012, 2013, and 2020, as an opportunity to promote protection of this unique resource. She lives in Tallahassee and works in the environmental conservation field.
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Angie is an alumnus from the University of Florida and now resides in Crawfordville, Florida. Born in Port au Prince, Haiti, she immigrated to the United States in 1999. Angie has hiked in more than 25 states and plans to hike them all. Angie enjoys motivating those around her to stay active and healthy in “green spaces.” An outdoor enthusiast that shares her love and knowledge of the outdoors with others, she teaches how to reengage with nature to improve health outcomes in the ever-changing developing society. She is especially eager to kayak along Prospect Bluff, a post overlooking the Apalachicola River. It housed what historians say was the largest community of freed slaves in North America at the time.
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Matthew lives at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. There he tracks bears and looks for birds and manages the REI in Pigeon Forge. He grew up in Florida and Kentucky and celebrates his lineage to nineteenth century Bay, Escambia, and Washington Counties. He believes deeply in the restorative power of the natural world and looks to connect with wilderness whenever possible. Matthew has worked for REI since 2003, and took an eighteen-month sabbatical to study nature connection practices in Appalachia. He has paddled in Tate’s Hell, the Everglades, and the 10,000 Islands. This will be his first River Trek.
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Georgia is happiest when her feet are wet and sandy, and her cell phone is out of range. She especially enjoys drinking piping hot coffee waiting for daybreak along any stretch of the Apalachicola River. Georgia says, “thanks to my mom and grandmother, we really played outside as kids. Unstructured, wild and free.” She believes outside play and the protection of wild places are fundamental to both the health of humans and the planet. A former kayak instructor and river guide, she ran a north Florida ecotourism company for nearly a decade where she spent time learning about the connected Apalachicola River and Bay system and then began volunteering with Apalachicola Riverkeeper. She has been on staff as Riverkeeper and Executive Director since 2017. Her volunteer work with Apalachicola Riverkeeper began back in 2011 after her first RiverTrek, where she met Tom and Katie Herzog. This is her fifth RiverTrek in a kayak.