ATHENS — The Athens-based river advocacy organization Georgia River Network is putting a new twist on the time-honored back-to-school “what I did on my summer vacation” essay tradition.

GRN is giving Georgia educators the chance to write their own summer vacation story by participating in Paddle Georgia 2019, a seven-day, 92-mile journey down the Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers through the Paddle Georgia Educator’s Scholarship program. Along the way, these educators will receive training in environmental education curriculum and Georgia Adopt-a-Stream water monitoring.

“The goal is to give teachers a hands-on wilderness journey and environmental education experiences that they can share with their students when they return to the classroom later in the year,” Paddle Georgia Coordinator Joe Cook said. “Past participants have incorporated what they’ve learned into lesson plans and even established Adopt-a-Stream programs at local schools.”

GRN is providing up to eight scholarships, valued at $425, for Georgia educators to participate in what is considered the country’s largest weeklong canoe/kayak camping adventure.

The journey begins June 15 on the Withlacoochee River in Valdosta and ends June 21, on the Suwannee River near Mayo, Fla.

Interested educators can view information about the trip and download a scholarship application at All scholarship applications must be received by April 20. Winners of the scholarships will be announced April 25.

Paddle Georgia is an annual weeklong, canoe and kayak journey that takes place on a different Georgia river each year. In the event’s first 14 years, Georgia River Network has guided more than 4,300 people down 14 Georgia rivers and generated more than $430,000 for river protection. More than 80 Georgia educators have participated in the scholarship program.

The trip is suitable for novice paddlers as well as experienced paddlers. Paddlers range in age from 4 to 84, with many families participating.

This year’s journey floats on the blackwater Withlacoochee and Suwannee rivers that serve up heavy doses of Deep South river vibes. Highlights of the seven-day journey include stops at several large springs that feed the river and provide excellent, bone-chilling swimming holes. The journey also celebrates Georgia River Network’s 15th year of Paddle Georgia journeys.

Founded in 1998, Georgia River Network is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that serves as the voice of Georgia’s rivers and works to empower everyone to enjoy, connect with and advocate for economically vital and clean flowing rivers. The organization works to ensure a clean water legacy by engaging and empowering Georgians to protect and restore state rivers from the mountains to the coast.

For more information, contact Cook at (706) 409-0128 or

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