Friday, May 8, 2009

Meet VOR 2009 Team Members!

Robert Dye
Assistant Professor of Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education
Age: 51

It's always exciting to take people on river and lake trips, to share with them the environment I love best. Meeting people along the rivers of America, Nepal, Russia, the Czech Republic, Canada, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, I have shared campfires with what most would certainly call a diverse group. I have reveled in the diversity. It is, however, the commonalties that have touched me most profoundly. In the homes and hearts of countless people, whose languages I did not speak, and whose cultures I did not know, I have found common ground: we love our children; we celebrate the sunrise; we enjoy a good joke; and we are fundamentally and deeply attached to rivers and lakes. This knowledge gives me solace and brings me joy at the sight and sound of moving water or waves lapping on the side of my sea kayak. My personal goal is to share this experience with as many people as possible.

John Palmer
Age: 21
Hometown: Great Barrington, MA

I’m a senior at Brevard College, majoring in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education with a minor in Organizational Business. The experiences that I have had in Brevard throughout my three years have been great. Brevard is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts. I am an avid hiker and mountain biker who dabbles in whitewater canoeing, climbing, and mountaineering. During the summer I work Deer Hill Expeditions in Mancos Colorado, as a Field Instructor.
V.O.R. is my internship to fulfill my major requirement. I am the logistics and food coordinator as well as the support team for this trip, all wrapped in one. This trip will be a great learning and growing experience for me and I am looking forward to every challenge along the way.

Thomas Allison
Business and Organizational Leadership
Age: 19
Hometown: Hickory, NC

Even though I never owned an expensive boat, I always enjoyed doing water activities from swimming to fly fishing. The water has always been close to my heart. This sense of meaning to me would probably come from the proximity of Lake Hickory from my house. These hobbies grew into a love and affection for the environment. When thinking about kayaking and my adventure down the Catawba River. This is the first time I have ever gotten in a kayak, but I think this hands-on experience will pay off with my VOR 2009 adventure. My hope for this adventure is to build a thorough understanding of what the Catawba River is going through ecologically and physically.

Jenny Baxter
Music Education
Age: 20
Carthage, TN

When I was growing up, my family and I would take yearly canoe trips down the Caney Fork River in Tennessee, and even though it was never anything really intense, the experience helped build an immense respect for and enjoyment of the outdoors. Being a music education major, I do not get many opportunities to get outside of practice rooms, and VOR will provide me with the opportunity to gain some vital life lessons outside of the conventional classroom. I love the concept of VOR, because it enables students from multiple majors to come together and create a unique community and gain college credit at the same time. I am so excited that I not only get to be out on the river for three weeks, but I will be able to share the experience with some amazing people I look forward to getting to know.

Name: Jennifer Gift
Nickname: Jenn
Art Major with an Emphasis in Graphic Design and Photography
Age: 20
Hometown: Durham, NC

Could there be a better way to start the summer? I feel blessed to be a part of VOR 2009! The sight and sound of water inspire me to pause and reflect, something I am well aware I need in these crazy days, so I look forward to this river adventure with great expectations. I expect to learn a great deal about myself and the Catawba-Wateree as well as build meaningful relationships along the way. I plan to capture every wonderful memory and moment through my journaling and my role as trip photographer.

Charles Jordan
Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education
Age: 20
Hometown: Athens, GA

I am an avid whitewater kayaker and love being on the water and in the outdoors. This trip will be a new experience for me. An eighteen day sea kayaking trip through the Catawba-Wateree river basin, while learning about survival literature and river conservation, how cool is that! My goals for Voice of the Rivers are to: (1) have fun with all the great people participating in VOR; (2) learn lots from Robert and Tina; (3) improve my teaching and leading abilities; (4) come back with a greater understanding of what it is needed to improve our rivers and the ecosystems they support. I am sure that we will all learn a lot from each other, and I can’t wait for this trip, with all of the great memories and experiences that will come from it.

Patrick Lawrence
Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education
Age: 21
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Bringing a committed relationship of 15 years fly fishing and kayaking Michigan rivers, solid environmental ethics, a penchant for leadership, the silver tongue of a muse, a fanatical desire to learn and the quick wit of a hyperactive sarcastic energy ball, I will do his part (maybe even more than that) to make VOR 2009 the most fulfilling VOR to date.. I hope that this trip will give me a proper education on North Carolina river ecosystems, so as to better share the information with others. On VOR 2009 dedication is spelled P-A-T.”

Karen Love
Environmental Science
Age: 18
Hometown: Greenville, SC

I spend most of my time playing games, working and studying. I am an incredibly competitive person, and I love a challenge which is why I decided to sign up for VOR 2009. I have never done anything like this before, so it will definitely be an all new experience, and one which I am determined to complete! Because I am an environmental science major, the thing I am looking forward to the most about this trip is being able to view the ecosystems up close and personal, and not out of the pages of a textbook. I also believe that VOR will teach me a lot about my own personal strengths and weaknesses, and how to relate to and work with the strengths and weaknesses of others.

Jordan Martin
Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education (WLEE)
English + Teacher Licensure
Age: 23
Waxhaw, NC

Growing up by the ocean has taught me to respect and appreciate the grace and challenge of water. It is where I have always found comfort and thrill in uniting with an untamable force. I look forward to three weeks of merging with the waterway and finding my own peace through paddling, raising awareness of the great need for conservation and restoration of the endangered Catawba River, and actively participating in the efforts of environmental conservation. VOR 2009 will also provide me with an opportunity to learn more about my prospective career, teaching with a focus in experiential methodology, through literature studies of the natural environment and culture of North and South Carolina while paddling through that very environment. The experience will enhance my understanding of my majors and influence how I may be able to unite the two.

Dean Mobley
Age: 43
Brevard, NC

I was fresh off of my first kayak trip in Florida’s Peace River, when I thought, that a VOR trip would be a great complement to me as a Geology minor. Sensing that this would be my only chance to experience such a journey, I applied. In the past ten years, I have snorkeled many of swimming holes in Brevard and surrounding mountains. It will be interesting to see what happens to the water after it leaves its source from the mountains and flows to the sea. I’ll be looking for ghosts from the past; I once fished and swam the Catawba River growing up in the piedmont, and Charleston. It will be an eye-opening experience to see how we treat something that is the lifeblood of mother earth.

Kelli Tysinger
Theater Studies
Age: 19
Winston Salem, NC

Every since I was a young girl I have been interested in the Natural World. My sister and I would play for hours in the woods. My dad also helped this love of nature along by taking me out on hikes and things of that nature. I think that this trip down the Catawba River in a kayak will help me grow and learn a lot. Mother Nature has given so much to me that I need to give back to her, so if I can learn more to save our planet, why not? We need to listen to what she is telling us.

Kimberly Williams
Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education (WLEE)
Age: 19
Melbourne Beach, FL

As a lifelong surfer, I grew up with a great deal of respect and appreciation for water. Before coming to school in the mountains, I thought that this was something only ocean-lovers understood. I was soon reminded of how transcending the value of it is and that other people around me felt the same way I did, but for their local rivers. That is part of the reason I joined the Voice of the Rivers expedition. I am so excited to become immersed in the surrounding communities of a waterway that we have let become so neglected and endangered. I want to get an authentic vision of how we are all affected by the element that makes our beautiful planet unique: water. The bold and unique idea of the Voice of the Rivers expedition is so valuable and is an almost perfect portrayal of experiential education in action! We are all so lucky to partake in this special BC endeavor. I can’t wait to form a community with our crew and be part of the surrounding culture of the region. I consider myself a life-long learner and believe that even (and sometimes especially) when outside a typical educational setting, knowledge and wisdom are likely to be born. And who can’t use more of both?

Jay Wolfe
Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education (WLEE)
Age: 22
Hometown: Spartanburg, SC

I love anything that has to do with being on the water, especially kayaking, fishing, and swimming. I enjoy backpacking and disc golf as well. I am excited to be a part of the 2009 VOR team. I have never been on an extended 21 day expedition and I can’t wait to see what it’s like to learn about the Catawba River Watershed while actually paddling down the river.


  1. So cool to see this...however, where is Kristina Holland? ;)

  2. Can a BC Alumnus (87) join you for a stretch of your paddle? I would love to join you Friday afternoon on Lake Wylie. My cousin Nathan Nahikian was on the original VOC in 97.

    Deb Nahikian

  3. Yeah Give us a call.
    John Palmer is the one to get in touch with.
    We are paddling from the USNWC tomorrow (22nd)and stopping at private property at the upper end of Lake Wylie.
    Give us a shout!
    -John Palmer

  4. Mr Dye...old friend. Just found this via the Asheville paper. Looks like another great trip. Starting my own solo trip in a couple weeks starting in the mtns and heading to Mobile Al. Think there might even be a photo somewhere in there from our trip to Chile many moons ago. I'll check out the VOR facebook page as well. Enjoy the journey!