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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.

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

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.

Eric Ziecheck 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.

Leif Burhans Protected Species Observer - Lead Guide

Leif graduated from UF with a Wildlife Ecology degree. During his years at UF he attended a school group that did kayaking, backpacking. and white water trips. Leif is also a graduate of the Florida Coastal Master Naturalist Program. After he graduated college he traveled the country live trapping birds of prey, shore birds, and ducks for various research projects.

Today Leif works as a Protected Species Observer. His job is to monitor whales, dolphin, turtles, birds, manatee, and sharks in a migration-protection-research. Aspects are depending on the specific project. These projects last on average 1 month.

When Leif is not doing his valuable research you can find him at Ripple Effect Ecotours guiding. Leif enjoys sharing his love of paddling and knowledge of this dynamic ecosystem with travelers from all over the world.

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Lexy Taylor Assistant Manager - Guide

A Maryland native, Lexy graduated from Flagler College in 2019 with a degree in Coastal Environmental Science. While at Flagler, she conducted research projects identifying and recording juvenile fish and non-native crab populations between various St. Augustine marinas. Lexy also participated in population surveys of our resident Atlantic bottlenose dolphin.

Lexy is the voice behind our phone and the smiling face at local events spreading the Ripple Effect message. When Lexy isn’t in the office, you can find her at the beach or getting new houseplants to add to her collection.

Since joining Ripple Effect Ecotours in 2020, Lexy loves to get first-time or long-time kayakers aboard our tours to show them a small slice of the wonders found in our one-of-a-kind estuary.

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Adam Burkhardt Coastal Environmentalist - Lead Guide

Adam graduated from Flagler College in 2020 with a degree in Coastal Environmental Science. During his time at Flagler, Adam conducted a research project on artificial reefs at a local marina and participated in other projects studying squid, bottlenose dolphin, and gopher tortoise.

When Adam isn’t kayaking he’s either at the beach, taking a walk through the woods, or scuba diving. He spent two summers diving in Bermuda performing surveys on Bermuda’s shipwreck and natural reef fish.

Adam joined the Ripple Effect crew in 2021 and is always thrilled to share his knowledge and love of the estuary with guests.

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