From lazy river to rapid decent, my mother was my first guide

Denielle Perry | The Southeast

At four I proclaimed “I was born to swim!” Growing up in Florida, I was surrounded by water. Sharing my love for the life aquatic, my mother made sure I knew those waters both from above and below. We canoed the clear, spring fed Crystal and Chasawhitzka Rivers. In these winter sanctuaries of the manatee together we snorkeled side by side with these docile creatures.

When I was of age, she took me to the Wild and Scenic Chatooga. Our first run filled with rapids and waterfalls hooked me. Year after year my mother obliged my calling to the mountains and we ventured north in summertime, trading our lazy Florida rivers for the whitewater of Appalachia.

At 12, when I proclaimed that I had aspirations to be a guide, my mother said “do what you love.” Taking heed of her advice, I followed my heart to work for over a decade as a guide on rivers across the globe. That passion gave way to a career of advocacy and research centered on protecting our vital water resources.

It’s no doubt thanks to my mother’s adventurous spirit and encouragement that I followed my dreams to work on and for rivers. Thanks Mom for being my number 1 guide.

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