Juneteenth and River Ferries: Speakers in WWALS River Revue 2023-09-22

Update 2023-07-27: Judges announced for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue.

Hahira, GA, July 20, 2023 — We have two excellent speakers for the first-ever WWALS River Revue. Fannie Gibbs will talk about how her extensive family history research ties into Juneteenth and our rivers and creeks. Ken Sulak will talk about “Paddling into the Past: Finding Florida in the 1800s, Trails from Georgia, and Early Border Ferries.”


“We’ve worked with Fannie and Ken for years, and we hope you’ll like what they have to say as much as we do,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

This first-ever WWALS gala is an indoor fundraising gala, with catered sit-down meal, speakers, silent auction, and kayak raffle. It will be held 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia.

Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, how to contribute to the silent auction, and more:


Fannie Marie Jackson Gibbs was born August 6, 1953, at 5234 Jackson Road in Morven, GA 31638. She was brought into this world kicking and screaming, (said by family), with the assistance of her Grandmother, a noted and documented midwife, Pollie Mae James Jackson, who learned this skill from her Grandfather, one Ben Davis, an enslaved man of Haitian descent owned by Pliney Sheffield, I and II, documented in history as among America’s richest plantation owners. Ben Davis is credited with saving Pliney II’s life at the Battle of the Wilderness in Virginia. Fannie began documenting and researching all the stories told by her Grandma and others and has made it her life’s passion to strive for the universal message of Juneteenth — None are Free Until All Are Free. Fannie spends her time punishing her grands and others with history lessons at every turn. She is currently spearheading efforts to preserve African and Native American history through The Macedonia Community Foundation, Inc. She enjoys activism and has never met a cause she could not find a lesson to teach.

“I can’t wait to hear Ken and Fannie,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones.

Kenneth Sulak is a research fish biologist retired in 2016 from the U.S. Geological Survey. Dr. Sulak has Ph.D. and Master’s degrees from the University of Miami School of Marine Science, and a Bachelor’s degree from Harvard University. From 1985 to 1994 he was Director and Senior Fish Biologist at the Atlantic Reference Center, Huntsman Marine Science Centre, New Brunswick, Canada. He has conducted international research as a NATO Fellow in England, a U.S. National Academy Exchange Scientist to Russia, and Chief Scientist aboard a large number of oceanographic research cruises. Ken has published extensively on marine fish community ecology and sturgeon life history and conservation. He has 50 years of experience researching fish ecology in coastal rivers, estuaries, and the deep sea in the Atlantic, Arctic, East Pacific, and Indian oceans, the last 25 as a fish ecologist for the U.S Geological Survey. His Gulf sturgeon research filled critical gaps in knowledge of life history, population biology,and habitat requirements in coastal rivers and the Gulf of Mexico, facilitating conservation of this species. Offshore research focused on deep-reef fish communities off the U.S. East Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico, and on yellowfin tuna attracted to oil rigs. Ken led four years of intensive USGS research on the impacts of the BP oil spill upon Gulf of Mexico shelf-edge reef fish communities. Sulak is a founding member of the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society. For the past two decades Ken has also paddled into the past, researching the history of North Florida early settlers, their river crossings, and their impact on the Suwannee River ecosystem. A series of historical articles are being published.

“Thanks to our sponsors so far, Landis International, Agri-Supply, and Georgia Beer Company. You, too, can be a sponsor!” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman.


“And items for the silent auction,” she added.


“Songwriters, don’t forget to send in your song for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, about any river, stream, spring, sink, swamp, lake, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary (except not the Santa Fe Basin; that has its own contest),” said said new member of the Gala organizing committee, Lauren Lewis. Here’s the entry form:


WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman said, “Your ticket or sponsorship helps support everything WWALS does, from water quality tests, paddle outings and swimming & boating lessons, to chainsaw cleanups, and beyond to advocacy to stop trash at its sources, strip mines, and pipelines. We work for water trails, solar power, and the Right to Clean Water, with growing engagement for youth and marginalized communities.”

About WWALS: Since June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity working for a healthy watershed with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable water.

Mission: WWALS advocates for conservation and stewardship of the surface waters and groundwater of the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary, in south Georgia and north Florida, among them the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds, through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities.

Our Watershed: The 10,000-square-mile WWALS territory includes the Suwannee River from the Okefenokee Swamp to the Gulf of Mexico, plus the Suwannee River Estuary, and tributaries such as the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers as far north as Cordele in Georgia, as well as parts of the Floridan Aquifer, which is the primary water source for drinking, agriculture, and industry for millions of Georgia and Florida residents.

Suwannee Riverkeeper: Since December 2016, WWALS is the WATERKEEPER® Alliance Member for the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary as Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®, which is a project and a staff position of WWALS focusing on our advocacy.

Contact: John S. Quarterman
Suwannee Riverkeeper