Susan Pinson and Amelia Wolfer left Saturday with about 300 paddlers for a weeklong, 106-mile trip down the Oconee River.
The two Chestatee Elementary School teachers have gone kayaking together before, but nothing like Paddle Georgia.
"We both love the outdoors and we’re both environmentally minded to take care of the Earth and take care of the rivers," Wolfer said.
"I haven’t paddled the Oconee River before, and doing the 106-mile stretch all together will be exciting."
The Oconee stretches from Hall County to southeast Georgia, where it joins the Ocmulgee River to form the Altamaha River.
Pinson and Wolfer were among a group of seven teachers to receive the Paddle Georgia Educators Scholarship, which covers the cost of the trip.
During the trip, paddlers will learn about the river’s cultural and natural history, tour facilities and historic sites and play nightly games.
"It sounded like great exercise for one thing," Pinson said. "I enjoy the water and padding a lot … and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to meet educators and teachers."
In addition to a paddling trip, the teachers and other participants will receive environmental education training during the week.
There will be a research program where they will help collect chemical and biological data to give a snapshot of the current health of the river.
"Everything we do is affected by our water sources, so it’s all intertwined," Pinson said. "It’s very important that our water sources are clear and clean and that we can help kids learn about conservation and about taking care of the environment."
Wolfer said her experience from the trip could help her teach third-graders about issues such as pollution and conservation.
"The earlier we reach them to let them know how important it is to take care of our natural resources, the greater chance there is that they’ll grow up to be citizens with a mindset of staying green and protecting our environment," Wolfer said.
This is with fellow educators, so I think with the collaborative effort … we’ll get new insights from other educators on how to use this in our classrooms."
The women return Friday from their paddling adventure.