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Mailchimp11.22.2013
Hard to believe 2013 is drawing to a close, when to many it seems as if it never got going! Yet here we are, preparing for the holidays, whether we like it or not!

People are basically creatures of habit— we follow certain rituals that help us define who we are. Some may be subtle, some automatic, some are large, loud and imposed upon us by society. Many of these we’d like to ignore because we may not always be up to their demands and expectations, which is why many people suffer the blues during this time of year. Memories of good times and loved ones no longer here to celebrate with us at a festive table, or economic hardship when it should be a time of plenty, stab us in the heart.

No matter your mood or circumstances, remember to give thanks. Of course we hear this a LOT around this time of year, so much so that we’d prefer to tune it out. But there’s a reason! With a collective mind, all of us, as one, are dealing with the losses and successes as this unique and irreplaceable year winds down. Our moods drop very easily now when we look back and wonder where the year went. Again.

So: you have the choice to lift your spirits by remembering, and being grateful for the good people who were in your life in 2013. There’s a very good reason why “count your blessings” is a cliché: like most clichés, it’s true whether we like it or not!

Indulge me a moment as I thank, and bless, some of the wonderful, caring people who have made a difference in my life, and in WRT’s future, in a myriad of ways in 2013: Christianna Cannon, Tom Brown, Vinnie Tozzo, Jason Neer, Bob Cannon, Balu Vandor, Steve Weinsier, Craig Clark, Michelle Albus-Clark, Woody Weatherford, Audra Vaz, Nancy Lamson, Leona McAndrews, Elise Crohn, Olivia Lineberger, Frank Parker, Johnathan Johnston, Sharon Glass, Cathey Wallbank…and a few who I have inadvertently overlooked (forgive me!) or who wish to remain anonymous.

I give thanks for all of you who read this newsletter: for your advice, encouragement, and for continuing on without unsubscribing!

Earlier this year, Christianna and I totally revamped the WRT website. I supplied content but she did the heavy lifting, writing her own code from scratch, using HTML 5 and CSS3 (hope I got that right, as that’s not my personal area of expertise!). One of the things she made me do was gather together photographs of our past volunteer-members so as to honor them on our Members’ Pages. Well, she didn’t really make me do it, as I have always loved to share photos of our Team in action, but a comprehensive Members’ Page was a long-cherished goal of hers. I confess to shedding tears as I sorted through WRT’s copious photo archives. So, I must again give thanks for ALL of the people on that page, and invite you to visit our Members’ Banners, which are a work in progress. Some of them are combined into the above montage.

Even though he’s been gone from this earth since May 8, 2006, I give thanks for my soulmate, husband and canoeing partner, Tom Kazo, for many reasons, some of which are private, of course! Now, I must thank him for dreaming up the idea of Wildlife Research Team, while he was on what had been predicted was his deathbed, and then vigorously acting upon his dream. He changed my life for the better, and the lives of countless others who will never forget him or the positive impact he made upon their lives. He taught me how to handle a canoe, and that taught me strength, courage, and problem solving like no other course of study ever could. If I could possibly pass this teaching along to a few others, I will die a happy woman.

When Tom and I founded WRT with that single canoe, Do-er, in 1993, there was just no way we could not begin to pick up the trash left by others in South Florida’s waterways! We also felt as if we were the only ones who were doing it. Happy we were to be wrong! But it’s only this past year, mostly thanks to Facebook, and as a result of research for this newsletter, that I’ve learned of others who are happy to get wet and dirty, picking up garbage from canoes and other small vessels, all across the country, even the world.

This year I discovered kindred spirits in Georgia’s Jason DuPont and his Off Grid Expeditions and River Guardians; Florida’s Sea Angels Robyn and Mike Halasz; Balloons Blow, in Jensen Beach, started by 20-something sisters Chelsea and Danielle when they were just little girls who loved their neighborhood beach; California’s 5 Gyres, directed by Stiv Wilson; Captain Charles Moore, who first brought to public attention the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; Illinois’ Chad Pregracke and his Living Lands and Waters (just voted CNN Hero of the Year!); Watertrail Keeper Pride, a Facebook group with 132 members who live up to their name; and a man named Harry (who seems to prefer only his first name to be known) whose Flotsam Diaries tell about the debris he recovers from a small public beach in Maine.

Okay, the problem with lists is that someone important always gets left out. The main thing is to give thanks for the people who care about the environment and get off their rear ends and do what they can to make things better. I am grateful beyond words for them, wherever they are.

So, dear reader, if for some reason you think you have nothing for which to be grateful, I am happy to share my list with you. Wildlife Research Team has done a lot of good, exponential for such a small group, but there’s more to be done, much more.

Last but not least: I give thanks for the amazing people I have yet to meet!

Thank you for your interest in Wildlife Research Team!
Hope to see you in a black canoe,

Donna

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With the first wisps of cooler, drier air finally beginning to replace our muggy, buggy summertime, some of us in South Florida look forward to more canoeing excursions. Day trips are fun, but have you ever considered canoe-camping? Canoe camping is not for everyone but can be addictive! Do you want to feel a little like Lewis and Clark? Canoes were a big part of the exploration of North America.

You can visit areas not accessible by any other means. Night skies will be dark, starry, free of light pollution. Canoes provide excellent opportunities to photograph wildlife. A canoe-camping adventure is a very good reason to get into shape. But, this should not be your first time canoeing! You will NOT be a happy camper!In my experience, there are two types of people: campers who use canoes on occasion, and canoeists who camp on occasion. The former group usually overpacks. Not as bad as “glamping”  (Google it!) but they are still determined to bring all of life’s comforts and luxuries with them. If they’ve brought too much, just let them paddle their own gear!

With wilderness areas disappearing quickly, you will most likely have to make an overnight reservation at a government-owned preserve, purchase a permit, and stay for only a specific length of time. Even the million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota requires camping permits for overnight stays. My favorite place to canoe-camp in the fall and winter is Georgia’s 700-square-mile Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. I also recommend Florida’s Canaveral National Seashore, where Orange Island was a lovely place to camp after a vigorous paddle as strong ocean winds kicked up Mosquito Lagoon. In 1997, along with his son Ryan Kazo, and friend Frank Parker, my husband Tom paddled the treacherous 100-mile Everglades Wilderness Waterway.

Like most things in life, when canoe-camping, prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Know the area well before you make your reservations; especially the hydrology, as in, where does the water come from that you will be paddling on? Is it snow melt, salt or brackish, spring or tidal controlled? Will you have to slog through mud? Are there rapids? A heavily loaded canoe made for tripping is not as maneuverable on whitewater. Portages are to be avoided if possible!If you go far enough north, as to the Okefenokee, you will have to brace yourself for brisk cold fronts sweeping down, especially in January. Have you paddled in strong winds and choppy waves? Always prepare for bugs, no matter what time of the year, and in the SE USA, alligators and rattlesnakes.

Even if you love kayaks with all of your heart, for overnight camping, here canoes win out over kayaks. A typical human cannot possibly carry enough gear to be comfortable in a kayak. Gear includes water. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds. Only if you have someone provisioning your paddling route (which sort of seems like cheating to me) could a kayak be feasible.

What kind of canoe do you have? Not all are suitable for overnight trips. WRT has both tandem and solo canoes made by Mohawk, proven perfect for these adventures. You may need to rent a canoe from a local outfitter. Paddles are also essential, so don’t wait until the last minute to get familiar with yours. Even if you rent a canoe, buy your own paddles and paddling gloves. You will be a happier camper. We in WRT use both double and single paddles. If, like me, you paddle solo, a double paddle is essential; but I also keep my single handy.

Your canoe should have ropes (also called lines or painters) attached to the bow and stern, about 15’ each. NEVER get out of the canoe without taking hold of the painter. If your canoe dumps, always stay with your canoe; never try to swim to shore. The canoe will stay afloat, even full of water. In our canoes, we have attached eyelets along the inside edge of the gunwales, so that we can stretch bungee cords to hold our cargo, even if the canoe tips.

Practice getting into and out of your canoe from different heights, from docks, from beaches, from the water. Notice in the photo montage that we are camping on platforms built at least a couple of feet above the water. Paddling with a partner? Practice everything together: switch from bow to stern and vice versa.

Essential: first aid kits for humans and for canoes. We learned the hard way that antibiotic eye ointment is indispensable. As is duct tape! Everyone in your group needs to know basic first aid; the Boy Scout Handbook has good info. Visit your doctor and your dentist before the trip. Tetanus shots up to date? If you take prescription meds, keep them in waterproof containers. Pack a spare pair of eyeglasses.

If it’s cold, or you feel uneasy, wear your personal flotation device, which you’ve purchased well ahead of time, so you know it fits. Keep it handy, if you feel confident. Keep your rain gear handy, too.

Take great care to load your canoe; make sure it is perfectly trimmed (balanced), because you may otherwise have to compensate in your paddling to make up for an uneven load. That gets old FAST, and could cause you to hurt yourself. In the Okefenokee, there were no places to get out and repack for several hours. Make very sure you have a decent amount of freeboard (distance between the gunwale, or top edge of the canoe, and the waterline). If the water will be choppy, will you have sufficient freeboard? In Mosquito Lagoon, Tom had to rescue friends who had overpacked their canoe! It was not really made for camping, with much less freeboard than our Mohawks. Our friends were in great danger of drowning, once their overloaded canoe swamped in the chop and bluster of a spring cold front.

Do not assume that anything electronic will work out there. Do not rely on a GPS or cell phone. Learn how to use an old fashioned compass, and how to read a (waterproof) map. Have spare flashlights and batteries. Headlamps let you work hands-free. Add a pad and pencil to your personal gear.

Invest in a waterproof digital camera, but even then, stow your camera when boarding or disembarking from your canoe. I’ve seen some very expensive equipment ruined because of carelessness.

Water! Pack even more than for drinking; you may need to wash dishes or yourself. At least you won’t have to paddle it back! I always made sure to load the firewood, most of the water supply, and beer in my solo canoe. Then everyone looked out for me! Wildlife such as raccoons may rob your water or food supplies, and they may be more clever than you could anticipate.

Buy or borrow the best quality sleeping bags and tents. Zippers can make your life a living hell. Good quality zippers are essential! There’s nothing more embarrassing than getting stuck inside! Down filling will stay wet longer than man-made fibers, which can also pack tighter into your canoe.

Although camping without a campfire and S’Mores wouldn’t seem right, where you will obtain fuel? Don’t assume the area where you will be setting up will have dry wood to burn. There is also risk of introducing insects into an area if you bring firewood with you. Duraflame has introduced Campfire Logs, safe for roasting hot dogs or marshmallows. Check to see that open fires are even permitted. Don’t make Smokey the Bear mad at you!

When paddling, always keep the canoe in front of you and the one behind in sight, but don’t follow too closely. Keep at least one canoe’s length from each other. What if you get hung up on a root?

Last but not certainly not least, leave no trace. What you pack in, pack out. Do not leave litter behind. Don’t cut down or chop at trees. Respect the wildlife; you are visiting their home. If there are outhouses, please use them. Further reading: How to S**t in the Woods by Kathleen Meyer.

Consider this to be a very brief introduction to the wonderful world of canoe-camping. Now grab a paddle and get out there!

Thank you for your interest in Wildlife Research Team!

Hope to see you in a black canoe,

Donna

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In the heart of urban Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lies a little-known gem of a paddling destination. It’s a river dear to the hearts of WRT members: the North Fork of the New River, a 3.5 mile tributary of the New River itself. The North Fork has all a paddler could want out of a paddling destination. First, it’s wonderfully convenient; second, it’s historic and unique; third, no powerboat traffic = safer paddling; fourth, there’s a wide variety of sights—wildlife to urban life. The trees and understory foliage along the shoreline provide precious habitat to wildlife, while the spaces beneath the bridges provide shelter to homeless humans. You might see a train or a manatee: true urban canoeing on Broward’s Blueways Trail.

Visit mynorthfork.fau.edu to learn more of this river’s fascinating history. WRT is proud to be a Keeper of the River as part of a longstanding Adopt-A-Waterway program. In 2000, our late founder,Dr. Tom Kazo, fell in love with its remnant Everglades habitat. He loved the challenge of restoring the wounded river to health after decades of abuse. Our black canoes have since led many cleanups of its troubled waters, more than I can recall! Over the years, we’ve made great friends and strong partnerships with other caring organizations and individuals. On mynorthfork.fau.edu, learn about Broward Urban River TrailsFlorida Atlantic University’s Florida Atlantic Planning Society (FAPS), Broward County’s Environmental Protection DepartmentSouth Florida Water Management DistrictKids Ecology Corps, and the historic African-American communities, among others. Now we want you to know about our river, and fall in love with it too!

There are no marinas along the stretch of the river north of Broward Boulevard, which is why the agencies mentioned above worked together to create a canoe launch at Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park. The park remains the only official launch site. The helpful staff asks that you call them in advance when you are planning to paddle, so that they can open a gate and you will be able to drive right to the launch area. They also request that you plan your trip to be back at the park by about five pm, as the park closes at six pm. Having them watch out for you adds a safety factor to your excursion, just like a pilot filing a flight plan. How many paddlers forget to tell someone where they are going?

Across from the launch site, are huge pond apple trees and cypress, with leather ferns at their base, survivors of a pond apple forest which began on the south shore of Lake Okeechobee and extended all the way to the New River. It’s now all sugar cane, farms, and suburban/urban development. The North Fork pond apples are magnificent relics. Undeveloped stretches of shoreline provide homes to wildlife such as raccoons, opossums, foxes, snakes, all sorts of herons and other birds, to include osprey. You may see manatee, mullet, tarpon, snook, and turtles. Folks from the community fish from the riverbanks, despite the health warnings of toxic metals to be found in their catch.

Heading north and west (left from the launch site), you’ll be going upriver. Sistrunk Boulevard is the first bridge. I love the pond apple and cypress bayou on the right. On the left is a busy bus repair company, revealed when exotic nuisance trees were removed. The banks are now covered by large white stones, called riprap, and only natives, such as pond apple, mangrove, and leather fern, are planted. The North Fork displays many contrasts, and this is one of note: rows of smelly buses on the left, a charming pocket of Everglades habitat on the right.

The river turns and twists enough to sustain that “what’s around the next bend?” feeling. Its winding course also means that on breezy days, you are protected in some areas and digging in on others. The New River is tidal-influenced, so check the tide charts, and think about paddling along with the tidal flow, inland or to the sea. Beginning paddlers may find a three-knot tidal current too much to handle. Full-moon high tides have forced us to sit in the bottom of our canoes as we squeeze beneath the lower bridges. At least low bridges keep the powerboats out of our hair!

The river narrows as it passes between suburban homes on high banks. At low tide, you can see natural rock formations and perhaps an old (probably stolen) rusty bicycle embedded in the muddy bank above. We’ve taken out dozens but they still keep appearing, along with car parts, shopping baskets, liquor bottles, soda cans, construction materials…and you name it, we’ve taken it out of the river.

The New River once received fresh water from Lake Okeechobee, up until the early 1960s. It also used to handle five million gallons of wastewater per day, along with elephant manure from a now-defunct circus. A flood control structure along Sunrise Boulevard now effectively terminates the North Fork, changing its pleasant meandering to a business-like, boring canal. Before we get there, we turn around at the debris-catching boom just south of Sunrise, and head back southeast. A major source of litter is the swap meet on Sunrise and the boom keeps some of it from escaping down the river into the sea. It was much worse before a fence was installed along their parking lot, after our group complained to the owner. The water is definitely cleaner these days.

Return to the Delevoe canoe launch, and you’ll have gotten a good four-mile workout, especially if you’ve been paddling against wind and tide! (I think my personal record was four times up and back to check on straggling volunteers!)

Paddle south, you’ll be slanting east. More giant pond apples and undeveloped shoreline will be providing precious habitat. Look left, above a sea wall at a tiny rock chapel (overgrown by a huge fig tree the last time I saw it); that’s the old Sweeting estate.

As you paddle beneath the railroad bridge, Tri-Rail may pass overhead. Then it’s true urban canoeing beneath I-95’s massive spans. Shafts of light pierce strong shadows cast by tons of concrete to create an eerie black-and-white abstract painting, complemented by harsh sounds of traffic reverberating all around you. All those hurrying, stressed-out people, have no idea of you beneath them, a modern-day Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer in search of adventure!

Further south, a broad, shallow section of the river bends around a small peninsula, forming what was known as The Barrel. Pastors from the many neighborhood churches could safely baptize large numbers of their congregations at once.

About a mile from Delevoe Park, the North Fork passes beneath Broward Boulevard’s fairly low bridge, but the spell is broken. From now on, large boats are tied up along banks shored up by seawalls. A paddler will feel as loved as a bicyclist on I-95. It’s kind of fun to get a canoe view of some beautiful yachts, and you could paddle downtown for lunch at a waterfront restaurant, but you must be on guard at all times for heavy boat traffic or suffer the consequences! Not only are the wakes of the 100-foot yachts a challenge for a canoe, but the seawalls will bounce them back, creating very sloppy water and tricky twisty paddling.

Scoot back under the Broward Boulevard bridge and make your escape! Get back to the Huck-and-Tom mode within the green walls of pond apple and cypress, and pray they never raise that bridge!

Look for this article on WRT’s website soon, illustrated with photos of every place mentioned. Our Galleries already feature many photos of our many dozens of cleanups and hundreds of volunteers.

Sunday, September 29, 2013, FAPS will again be hosting a cleanup of the North Fork. WRT plans to be there. Please call me, Donna Kazo, to reserve a seat in our black canoes: 954.474.8194. I will also be leading a brief Canoeing 101 class before the event. Community Service Hours available to students.
Details:
Reverend Samuel Delevoe Park
2520 NW 6th Street (also called Sistrunk Boulevard) Fort Lauderdale FL 33311
Phone: 954.791.1036

www.broward.org/Parks/ReverendSamuelDelevoePark/Pages/Default.aspx

Photo Montage: Top left, FAU volunteers at the canoe launch; top right, giant pond apple tree; center, December 2003, volunteers from all the groups mentioned gather around the new Adopt-A-Waterway sign with the day’s haul of trash; bottom: view south from the Sistrunk Boulevard bridge back to the canoe launch at the park.

Thank you for your interest in Wildlife Research Team!
Hope to see you in a black canoe,Donna

 

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Hello again, and welcome to the fourth installment of our seven-day journey. You have learned a bit of our history, and we hope you can see the benefits WRT would love to once again offer to the community and the environment.

But before we provide you with the answer to this important question, let me just say that as difficult as it may be to “re-launch” Wildlife Research Team after the Great Recession sucker-punched us, it is NOTHING compared to what Dr. Tom Kazo had to do in 1993!

When in April 1991, the Veterans Administration released him from long-term care in their Miami nursing home, they turned out onto the street this combat-wounded, decorated Army veteran without a pension, not a penny in his pocket or even a glucometer to monitor his diabetes. His two years in their care had caused all of his outside resources to disappear. Basically, they expected him to die in a few months.

My family was happy to take Tom into our home. We had known him from years before, during much better times. We knew very well he had gone out of his way to help so many others, so we were honored to be able to help him. Then came a long and agonizing process: when he applied for a disability pension from Social Security, his two doctorates counted against him! Surely a man so well educated and resourceful was not in need of government assistance, was the message they handed down, and he was denied again and again. As he put it, “I don’t need a handout, just a hand up.” Only when he appeared before a judge in his wheelchair with his feet heavily bandaged after yet another surgical procedure at the VA, was Tom Kazo granted his well-deserved pension, in early 1992.

This, then was when his dream of a Wildlife Research Team, could actually begin to become a reality. It’s a dream that literally came to him on what the VA doctors predicted would be his death bed. Tom proved them wrong, but he was always the best at cheating Death. He had another fifteen years to make it come true, as I wrote in a previous post.

So, even though times are still tough, what we have to do to get our black canoes back to work is a cakewalk compared to what I witnessed back then. I want to also take a moment to give credit to my father, Captain Don McVicar, OBE, who founded an airline in Montreal after World War II, and ran it for twenty years. World Wide Airways helped to build the DEW Line across the Arctic, among many other accomplishments. Tom was a lot like Dad: they were both big guys with huge hearts who never flinched from the hardest task. They were unsurpassed at making something substantial out of thin air. Lucky me: I seem to be genetically inclined to take on a challenge with passion!

Allow me to repeat the question: Where do we start?

Answer: a program we call Canoeing 101

Another good question: why do we need Canoeing 101?

Answer: Twenty years of observing people in canoes…

Watching people freak out and freeze and fight with their partner because they cannot for the life of them make the canoe move in any direction. Having to paddle out and literally tow them to safety.

Hearing canoes cursed hurts my heart!
Not getting to know some really awesome new volunteers who came out to our cleanups just the once, realizing I didn’t have enough time to get to know them during the event.
Waiting for someone to get hurt, and wondering if the release they signed would be enough to protect us.
Being amazed that some people, friends-of-volunteers, usually, were reluctant to share their names or emails with WRT, even though we were letting them use our equipment and represent our good name.
In short, what the heck was I thinking, letting strangers into our canoes? 

I took it on faith, that because we were doing good works, that all would be well. Based on my years of experience, I was sure that only quality people would volunteer for our cleanups, people not likely to sue for some small mishap. Happy to report that we still have an unblemished safety record!

But was this really Team-building? If we didn’t get “return customers” then we— I— had failed them somehow. And how could we fund our operations since we don’t charge dues like all the other nonprofits? We certainly couldn’t even dream of “charging volunteers” who were donating their time, love, muscles, sweat, and gasoline!

Took a while to come up with a plan. Won’t go into all of that angst! Here then is the answer…

Canoeing 101:

  • Will introduce new people to the wonderful lifetime sport and skill of canoeing;
  • To be held close to WRT’s canoe storage facility in Davie (west of Fort Lauderdale) at a spacious canoe launch with plenty of room for canoes to maneuver once in the water, in a sheltered location (our travel expense = nil);
  • To be scheduled on two Saturday mornings per month (to begin with);
  • Will have small classes so that students will receive personal attention;
  • Will be at NO COST to students; providing this free service to the community furthers our nonprofit mission by removing financial barriers;
  • From now on, every single person who will even step into a WRT canoe must go through this course.

(A Few) Benefits of Canoeing 101: 

  • Teach important safety skills in a more controlled environment;
  • Risk Management, forestall lawsuits as no “strangers” will be setting foot in our canoes;
  • Provide a public service; train people in a lifetime skill that may even save their lives later on;
  • Team building, fellowship, fun;
  • Great publicity;
  • Sponsors and donors can readily understand and support this basic training session;
  • As even future excursion passengers (non-paddlers) are required to go through Canoeing 101, this will weed out those who might ruin the trip for others because they find the canoe to be uncomfortable. (We’ve seen it happen!)

Canoeing 101 will be the doorway to a cherished goal of both Tom and myself: a Team within our Team, of trained and certified canoe guides/naturalists who we will financially compensate as valuable employees (NOT independent contractors!). 

As WRT wants everyone to be able to enjoy Nature from our canoes, not just the athletically inclined, we need an A-Team of Canoe Guide/Naturalists to be the “engines” for our canoes in our unique program, “You Point, We Paddle.” Passengers won’t have to paddle, as they may be too young/old/physically challenged.

How and why:

  • Volunteers become Lifetime Wildlife Research Team Members after giving us just twenty hours; they will never have to pay dues. They will be able to volunteer at cleanups and other events, and never have to pay a penny. Financial hardship should not bar good people from helping out!
  • Guides begin, like everyone in WRT, as volunteers, but showing more intensity and dedication;
  • These people will receive ongoing training and certification (CPR, Red Cross first aid, etc.), first, as WRT volunteer/members, and as time passes and they prove their reliability, as paid employees (we will engage the services of an accountant to keep us in compliance with all government entities).
  • Although some people get all they need from volunteering, some are looking for financially rewarding part-time employment;
  • Outside agencies look for accountability to the organization, and having people on a payroll meets that requirement;
  • Volunteers are the lifeblood of a nonprofit organization, but the sad and ugly truth about volunteers is that they know they don’t have to show up, and if they do show up, they don’t have to do a good job. What can I say? People have their own reasons, or excuses, for everything they do, or don’t do.
  • WRT has been blessed with the highest-quality volunteers any organization could ever ask for, I hasten to add.

Would YOU like to become part of a great organization with a twenty-year history of making a difference to the people and wildlife of beautiful South Florida? Or would you be happy to just learn how to make that doggone canoe move forward, so that you and your loving partner don’t turn the air blue cursing at each other? Would you like to improve your physical health while enjoying a Canoe View of Florida’s many waterways? Would you like to be PAID to paddle a canoe?

All of the above begin with good ol’ Canoeing 101.

Tomorrow: Canoe View University

Thanks so much for sticking with me! There’s been so much to cover on our journey together.
On behalf of the amazing people who have given of their time for our Team, I wish you a day of knowing you are making the right decision at every turn.

Think about it: what better gift could there be?
Your future Paddle Pal,

Donna

Photo: Members of Boy Scout Troop 254 are learning the fine points of paddling while working towards their Merit Badges, courtesy of Wildlife Research Team.

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Hello again, glad to have you back!
Welcome to Day Three out of seven days of sharing with you our Canoe View.

Today, we present to you a basic, unembellished list, in no particular order, of Wildlife Research Team’s possible future programs and products. WRT has already accomplished many of them, especially in our early, experimental years, before we put all of our time and resources into our two major habitat restoration projects which were discussed in yesterday’s newsletter.

Some will be offered to the public at no cost in furtherance of our nonprofit mission.

Some could offer sponsors the opportunity to become environmental heroes by simply donating funds.

Some are to earn revenue so as to maintain our free programs and make us self-supporting.

  • Canoe View Classroom expanded into Canoe View University (these will be discussed in future posts)
  • Excursions/classes for still photographers or photography clubs
  • Excursions/classes for videographers or cinematographers or their groups
  • Excursions/classes for artists (could include locations to set up easels)
  • Excursions/classes for plant identification
  • Excursions/classes for bird identification
  • Excursions/classes for fish identification
  • Excursions/classes for scientific research; could include field studies, sampling, hands-on experiments
  • Excursions/classes with a focus on Florida history
  • Waterway and coastal cleanups
  • Scavenger hunts with prizes (can coincide with coastal or waterway cleanups)
  • Geocaching
  • Mapping expeditions
  • Snorkeling trips
  • Overnight canoe-camping trips
  • Boy Scout and Girl Scout Merit Badge projects
  • Canoe Daycamp
  • Birthday or anniversary parties
  • Weddings
  • Stress relief/Nature Therapy trips
  • Corporate wellness and/or teambuilding
  • Sunrise trips
  • Sunset trips, some featuring the rise of the full moon
  • Nighttime trips during meteor showers
  • Picnics on the water
  • Excursions specially designed for the infirm of all ages (long-term hospital inpatients, residents of nursing homes) for a prescribed dose of Vitamin N(ature)
  • Programs focused on specific groups within the community:

~kids from the inner city;
~over-40 couch potatoes who’d like to be healthier;
~diabetics who, like Dr. Tom Kazo did, suffer from foot ulcers and have difficulty walking;
~veterans who could fulfill volunteer opportunities and/or be paid as Canoe Guides
~(I bet you can come up with some target groups!)

  • Canoe “rodeo” for both fun and skills mastery (the shallow tidal flats of Matheson Hammock are ideal)
  • Yoga or other types of exercise such as tai chi, qi gong; a group paddles to a peaceful location to practice their discipline
  • “Blazing Paddles” exercise sessions
  • Canoe races
  • Scouting expeditions to seek new routes (good for Team building)
  • Guided fishing trips
  • Provide Community Service Hours to students
  • Provide exciting and meaningful volunteer experiences on the water and on land, so that people can earn the hours to become Members even if they are not physically able to paddle a canoe.
  • Create decently-paid jobs (even if part-time) which are properly accounted for
  • Seek and develop leaders to keep WRT paddling for decades to come
  • Offer group benefits to Members

We hope the above list excites you! Our Team has worked hard over these past two decades, but we have had a heck of a lot of fun along the way. We’ve seen a lot of wonderful kids grow up in our canoes, including my own two daughters, Christianna and Jamie.

Even just one WRT canoe excursion, however, has been known to improve a child’s outlook for the rest of his or her life.
Many of these youngsters have been inspired to choose careers in science.

Gratifying? You bet!
Exponential results? Our specialty!

So all the more reason for us to get back to work after this long and frustrating dry spell.

Tomorrow’s post: Where Do We Start?

Thank you so much for your time and attention. There are no greater gifts, when all is said and done.

Hope you have fair winds and sunny skies today,

Donna

P.S. Remember you are invited to learn more about WRT before tomorrow (or at any time!), by checking out past posts on our WordPress blog and our website: www.wildlife-research-team.org, and please feel free to share our newsletters and posts with your friends.

Photo: our first two canoes, Do-er and Do-It, moored along Turner River in deep southwest Florida, in 1993, during a scouting expedition.

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