by Mike Hammond

After a three-year hiatus, it is with great enthusiasm that we announce the return of the Calusa Blueway Speaker Series.

The speaker series will take place at the North Fort Myers Recreation Center, 2000 North Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers. The previous location at Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center in south Fort Myers continues to undergo repairs from Hurricane Ian. The community room in North Fort Myers Recreation Center is larger than the room at Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center.  Many of our popular talks were packed in the previous location. With the lineup of speakers, we are excited to have more space. Note: All programs begin at 6:30 p.m.

·        Jan. 9 – “Nature Photography and Paddling 1,500 miles around Florida”

John Shinner is a nature photographer who will share his photos and tips for getting beautiful wildlife images. John paddled the entire 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Trail and will share some of his paddling adventures.

·        January 23 – “A Wealth of Waterways, Canoeing & Kayaking in Florida”

Johnny Molloy, veteran author of more than 85 outdoor guidebooks, will share a slide show and presentation focused on paddling the Sunshine State. He will be sharing his favorite destinations included in the just released third edition of his book “Canoeing & Kayaking Florida,” along with essential paddling tips. Johnny has paddled waterways from the Yukon Province to Minnesota’s Boundary Waters to Maine’s Allagash Waterway to rivers throughout the South. He is looking forward to sharing with you his love of Florida paddling.

·        February 13 – Title: Knowing the Calusa – Turning Anthropology on its Ear.

Political and social complexity has often been associated with agrarian societies. However, the Calusa were able to attain equivalent complexities without having to invest time and energy into vast agricultural crops.  Join us for this lecture and learn more about our predecessors here in southwest Florida.

·        March 12 – “Dying out Here Is Not an Option: 1500 – 1500 Mile, 75 Day, Solo Canoe and Kayak Odyssey”

On June 25, 2016, John Connelly became the first to canoe both the Northern Forest Canoe Trail and kayak the Maine Island Trail. He went a step further connecting them with the Saint John River and Bay of Fundy in New Brunswick, Canada; 1500 miles in 75 days. Find out how he met the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and survived violent storms. Be inspired to seek out these water trails and experience portions of them for yourself.

·        March 26 – “Burnham Guides Paddling Adventures in Florida, Costa Rica, and ESVA”

Bill and Mary Burnham have been guiding and taking people to their favorite paddling locations in Costa Rica, the Everglades, the Florida Keys, Calusa Blueway and the Eastern Shore of Virginia for more than 25 years.  They have written eight books on hiking and paddling and will have copies of the “Florida Keys Paddling Atlas” available to sign.

Even though all programs begin at 6:30 p.m., most participants arrive early to grab light snacks that we provide and chat with other paddlers. After the programs, authors will have their books available to sign and answer more questions.  We’re looking forward to seeing a lot of old friends and catching up on each other’s paddling adventures.  It has been way too long, and we hope to see you there.