Forrest is a seasoned adventurer and experienced navigator who has solo-trekked through parts of the Amazon jungle and deserts of Arabia as well as across the full length of Asia and Europe. At the University of Jordan in Amman and Ohio State University, he earned his degree in History and studied ornithology, geography, and cultural heritage on the side. Following graduation, Forrest volunteered with Americorps and served as an Expedition Crew Leader with Montana Conservation Corps, where he worked closely with the US Forest Service, Park Service, and Bureau of Land Management to help maintain trails and parks, educate the youth, promote environmental stewardship, and strengthen local communities. As a foot-soldier historian and eco-warrior, he will be documenting today's ongoing evolution of historical development trends along the Mississippi River and their effects upon society and the natural world. In addition, with the assistance of this crowdfunding effort, he hopes to undertake as comprehensive of a survey as possible, documenting the current state of the river, its communities, and the wildlife found along the way.
Alex is a New Orleans-based artist working in both traditional and digital mediums. Following the years attending the Savannah College of Art and Design, he has made a concerted effort to see, absorb, and document from his own perspective as much of the world as possible, traveling not only much of the United States but also Korea, Japan, Iceland, and small tumbles through Europe. Most of these were not complete disasters. Having already traveled down the Mississippi south of Cairo once, he couldn't help but want to see the rest of it. During the expedition his main function (other than paddling) is documenting via watercolor, ink, and charcoal. The primary goal is to accrue by the end at least 60 sketches of various kinds to use as reference for larger pieces based on the trip, to be executed afterward (such as the custom maps mentioned in the rewards as well as a series of oil paintings). For examples of his work, you can see his site here.
Shea is an ACA certified kayaking instructor, an active POWW (Protecting our water ways) volunteer and aspiring conservationist who has taken classes in environmental biology from Columbia University in the City of New York, and in Ecology Evolution and Organismal Biology from The Ohio State University. As an ACA instructor he is dedicated to providing instruction, education and advocating stewardship to all who share a passion for paddlesports. In the face of the current freshwater biodiversity crisis, his main goal will be to promote the protection and conservation of freshwater ecosystems for wildlife and paddlers alike . Excited by the prospect of tackling a river of this magnitude, Shea and Forrest have been handing the physical and constructive aspects of getting the boat ready for this adventure. Shea will also be in charge of photo documentation for the trip.
Our lovely Lady, seen above, is a 1970s heavy-aluminum 20' Grumman freighter canoe with some slight modifications (not pictured), such as an outrigger and equipment for portage. She has a sailing mast plate, and we are working on coming up with a nonlethal sailing rig. We are installing a removable outrigger system for cargo and additional stability/weathering storms. She's to be named and christened at the headwaters of Lake Itasca. Isn't she beautiful? Look at the lines on her!