Kayak Guides

Let Our Kayak and Naturalist Guides Show You the Wonder of Northeast Florida

Our ecotour guides are certified Florida Master Naturalist Instructors through the University of Florida. They are the reason we can offer the in-depth, wide array of kayak programs that are unique to Ripple Effect Ecotours. Their diverse knowledge, backgrounds, and educations, coupled with their Florida Master Naturalists training, ensures that your ecotour will be an unforgettable experience, guided by the best of the best to ensure your safety and enjoyment.

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Chris Kelley Florida Master Naturalist Instructor - ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor -USCG Boat Captain

Chris is the owner of Ripple Effect Ecotours. A life-long obsession with the natural world began in the remote areas of Baja, Mexico where he was introduced to off-grid, self-sufficient living in “La Frontera”, one of the last frontiers in North America. The abundance of marine life in the Sea of Cortez in contrast to the stark Baja Desert led Chris on a journey exploring the vast American landscape over the next decade by both land and sea.

After two years exploring the Florida coastlines on their 34′ sailboat, “Rift”, Chris and his wife settled into the quaint seaside town of St. Augustine, Florida. Nowhere else had they encountered such an abundance of natural beauty in the Sunshine State. Chris now teaches kayaking as an American Canoe Association Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor and environmental education as a University of Florida Master Naturalist Instructor.

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Eric Ziecheck Manager and Stewardship/Educational Coordinator

An implanted Floridian at the age of 6, Eric has spent the majority of his life on the beaches of both the east and west coasts of Florida. Eric has been fortunate to travel to locations all over the world, particularly the coastal areas of both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. He spent a great amount of time along the Mata Atlantica (Atlantic Coastal Forests). Out of these experiences, he came to appreciate each country’s lush and beautiful places. His career has led him to the Ripple with a passion for environmental education focused on natural resources. Eric believes that our youth are one of the most important natural resources for our future.

Eric is a graduate of the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science from the College of Health and Human Performance and a Master’s degree from the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. He is also a Certified Coastal Master Naturalist.

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Brandon Mellin Biologist, USCG Boat Captain, and Assistant Manager

“B-rad” paddles in from Clemson University, where he completed his Bachelor of Science in Biology with a focus on invertebrates. He can paddle all day with articulated charisma and a “Hemingway” smile. His enthusiasm is contagious and enables him to connect with people of all ages. Brandon also brings a dynamic and diversified scientific perspective at both the macro and microscopic levels.

When he’s not in a kayak, he spends his time with the Georgia Aquarium’s Conservation Field Station assisting with Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin and other marine mammal rescues as well as photo identification, health assessments, interventions, and population assessments of these animals.

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Danny Lippi Florida Master Naturalist Instructor - ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor - Certified Arborist

Danny is the lead guide at Ripple Effect and a bird, mammal, and reptile expert. Danny has been guiding eco tours in the area for more than a decade and excels in kayaking technique as well as ecology, raptors, and music.

Danny can teach you how to roll a kayak and, at the same time, identify a Cooper’s Hawk 1000′ over his head. With his serious commitment to conservation, his expert experience with all levels of kayak skills (including white water), and his undeniable knowledge, Danny is one of the finest kayak guides ever!

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Joe Woodbury Florida Master Naturalist Instructor and a Certified Interpreter

Joe is a professional naturalist and recently received the Kenner Award, the state’s highest-ranking award for natural interpretation. Joe is an avid birder, a practitioner of Zen, and possesses an in-depth knowledge of the Timucuan Indians. This makes him an incredible resource for anyone seeking insights into and knowledge about natural Florida. Using his background in education, Joe covers all aspects of being.

Whether you join him on the Native People of the Estuary Kayak Tour, where he recreates the sights, sounds, and aromas of a traditional Timucuan encampment, or on The Zen Kayak Tour, where he teaches mindfulness and kayaking, one can only benefit from his awareness about all that is integral to connecting with yourself and the land beneath your feet.