Paddling, canoeing business workshop set for Sept. 28-29 in Monroe

Mary Ann Van Osdell, Hatch, Dora Ann

News Release Distributed 08/22/11

A two-day workshop on developing outdoor recreation on agricultural lands has been scheduled for Sept. 28-29 at Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Monroe, La.

Sponsored by the LSU AgCenter and Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprises Program, the program will focus on developing agritourism activities featuring wildlife and water systems on farmlands, according to LSU AgCenter agritourism coordinator Dora Ann Hatch.

Guest speakers will talk about revenue potential, outdoor recreational opportunities on farmlands, how to start an outfitter business and legal concerns, as well as hunting and crawfish production, Hatch said.

Nationally known river guide John Ruskey will speak and offer a canoe trip on the first day of the workshop. The river guide and outfitter from Clarksdale, Miss., will lead two 10-person canoes on a two-hour paddle. The fee is $25.

Keynote speaker for the first day will be Daryl Jones, director of Mississippi State University’s Natural Resource Enterprises Program. Jones will present statistics about enterprise development and trends that are making outdoor recreation popular.

Hatch will discuss marketing enterprises, and LSU AgCenter wildlife specialist Don Reed will talk about managing private lands for fee or lease hunting.

Optional activities at the end of the first day will include a photography session and a bird-watching session offered by the Friends of the Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

The second day will give participants an opportunity to learn about successful tourism programs in paddling, becoming an outfitter and legal liabilities associated with navigating waterways.

Keynote speaker for day two will be Tom Potter, executive director of North Carolina Paddle Trails, who will provide information on the economic and social impacts of paddling.

A panel of speakers including Bayou Teche National Wildlife Refuge volunteer Donovan Garcia, Ruskey and Byron Almquist, of Canoe and Paddling Adventures, will talk about how they got involved in paddling and offering their services to others. Both Ruskey and Almquist own paddling businesses. Garcia paddles for fun and leads paddlers along Bayou Teche as a volunteer to encourage participation in the activity.

After the panel, Stuart Johnson, assistant secretary in the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism Office of State Parks; Keith Casio with the Louisiana Natural and Scenic Rivers Program in the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; Bob Strader, Gay Brantley and Jean Mikeal with National Wildlife Refuges in Mississippi and in Monroe and Tallulah, La., will talk about state and national opportunities for nature-based tourism in their respective areas.

During the afternoon session, Lynne Warnock-Dorsey, of Bayou Dorcheat; Stephanie Herrman, of Lake D’Arbonne; Jennifer Ritter, of Bayou Teche; and Steven L. Windham, of the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area will discuss how their paddling trails were developed and their plans for the future.

Registration for this event is available online at and at and opening the brochure under the conferences tab.

The fee is $50 for single days or $75 for both days.

More information is available from Hatch at 318-927-9654, ext. 229, or at

Mary Ann Van Osdell
8/23/2011 12:35:22 AM
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