Board meetings are open to the public. The board meets quarterly, traditionally in Adel, lately more often in Valdosta, most recently online via zoom, but sometimes moving to other locations in the watershed, most frequently Live Oak. The board can also meet by teleconference, and makes many decisions by email. Between board meetings, the Executive Committee, consisting of the officers, may make decisions, and holds a teleconference each month between the quarterly board meetings. To contact the WWALS board, please send email to

See also Staff and Advisors.

Much of the work of WWALS is done by Committees. There are openings on the board right now, and always on the some of the committees. If you want to apply, please fill out the application form.

WWALS Board Members:

Tom Potter (Senior Vice President), Bret Wagenhorst (Secretary), Shelby Miller (Treasurer), Dave Hetzel (WWALS Ambassador), Laura D’Alisera, Trudy Cole.

Tom Potter (post 3, 2016-2018, 2018-2021, 2021-2024)

Senior Vice President and Chair, Science Committee. Elected to the board September 20th 2016 to the remainder of the term for the board position formerly occupied by Chris Graham, and re-elected twice.

Elected Senior Vice President in July 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021.

Profiled in Subaru Drive.

[The catch]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Tom Potter at Onemile Branch Cleanup during Azalea Festival, Drexel Park, Valdosta, GA, 2019-03-10.

Active participant on the Grants Committee, Outings Committee, and Water Trail Committee. Lives in Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA.

Interest in WWALS:

I would like to contribute my expertise and knowledge to WWALS in developing a more comprehensive understanding of the physical and biological resources in the region.


I am a research environmental chemist with more than 40 years of professional experience. Over the past 18 years I have lead a team of scientists evaluating impacts of farm and watershed scale conservation practices on water quality and quantity in the Southeastern USA and Puerto Rico.

Bret Wagenhorst (post 9, 2012-2013, 2013-2016, 2016-2019; post 4 2020-2023)

Bret Wagenhorst was on the WWALS board since its inception until he was term-limited in 2019 after two consecutive three-year terms, and appointed to the Advisory Committee. After the year off required by the bylaws, he was re-elected to the board July 12, 2020, to post 4, formerly occupied by John S. Quarterman, who was term-limited. Elected Secretary at the July 2021 Board meeting.

Organizer of the annual BIG Little River Paddle Race at Reed Bingham State Park.

Lives in Tift County, GA.

[Benjamin from Bret Wagenhorst of WWALS]
Bret Wagenhorst awarding First Prize for the 2018 BIG Little River Paddle Race

Interest in WWALS:

Although an ophthalmologist in Tifton, GA by profession, canoeing and kayaking are two of his passions outside of work. He states:

“I got involved with WWALS because I realized how special and beautiful these south Georgia waterways are and I wanted to help preserve their relatively pristine character for future generations of paddlers, swimmers and fishermen. I also want to help educate folks as to the value and importance of these gems.”


He grew up paddling on the Shenandoah River in Virginia as a Boy Scout, but he has been paddling the waterways of South Georgia for the past 17 years. He has paddled various stretches of nearly all of WWALS namesake rivers, as well as the numerous other bodies of water in the region, including the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwanee and Satilla Rivers, the Santa Fe, Wacissa, Wakulla, Ochlocknee, and Ichetucknee Rivers, the Flint River, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, Ray’s Millpond, and the coastal marshes, often organizing groups of paddlers to join him. He is enchanted by the presence of trees in the waterways, something he did not experience up north, and also the great variety of native plants and animals. He is intrigued and concerned by the incursion of invasive species along our water ways.

Shelby Miller (post 10, 2020-2021, 2021-2024)

Elected at the April 19, 2020, Quarterly Board Meeting to post 10, and as Assistant Treasurer.

Elected Treasurer at the July 12, 2020, board meeting. Elected Chair of the new Personnel Committee at that same meeting. Re-elected to the Board by the Members and by the Board as Treasurer in July 2021.

Lives in Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia.

[Yay winner!]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Yay winner! Shelby Miller drawing the winning WWALS kayak raffle ticket, at Griffis Fish Camp, Suwannee River 2019-12-07

Interest in WWALS:

As a lover of our local rivers and watersheds, I became familiar with WWALS first as a paddling organization through one of the monthly Full Moon Paddles. In my involvement on various outings I quickly learned that WWALS is more than a just a recreational group for paddling but a coalition for the stewardship of our environment. As a nature lover I believe it is our responsibility to help preserve and heal the lands that have done the same for us. As a board member, I hope to accomplish this task while sharing a love for the craft of paddling and the great outdoors with those around me.


My love for the great outdoors started at an early age as my mother worked for the Boy Scouts of America, and my brother was an active member. Some of my earliest memories involve cold nights around a campfire and scavenger hunts deep in the woods. I was raised with a love of nature and a deep respect for it which only strengthened as I got older. It is within that same organization, the Boy Scouts of America that I deepened my roots as I worked in many volunteer capacities from merit badge counselor to being a certified camp director. These experiences afforded me a trove of knowledge from rallying and training volunteers, developing a cross curricular pathway for scouts of all ages, to facilitating a nationally accredited camp following all BSA compliance standards. In more recent years I’ve learned to seek solitude and solace among the trees, developing a deep fondness for hiking and an increased love for paddling our local rivers and watersheds. This led me to WWALS and later led me to joining the Outings Committee to help others enjoy nature the same way I do.

Dave Hetzel (post 1, 2012-2015, 2015-2018; post 9, 2019-2022)

WWALS Ambassador and Chair of the Advisory Committee. Dave is a charter board member, and was the first to be term-limited after two consecutive three-year terms. After a year off, he was elected anew to post 9, formerly held by Bret Wagenhorst, and re-elected as WWALS Ambassador, a Vice President officer title. He was re-elected WWALS Ambassador July 12, 2020, and again in July 2021.

He lives in Tifton, Tift County, GA.

Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Dave Hetzel explaining WWALS, October 2014.

Interest in WWALS:

In this video, WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel explains the Alapaha River Water Trail: recreation through fishing, swimming, boating, conservation, and economic benefits through heads on beds, restaurant customers, gas, and outfitters. The Alapaha River Water Trail could even help attract knowledge-based companies as they see this improved quality of life for local citizens.


According to Latasha Ford, Tifton Gazette, 5 May 2015:

Hetzel is a former city councilman and has served on several committees. He is very active in the community, serving on many boards, including Keep Tift Beautiful, Tiftarea Greenways Association, Tift County Commission on Children & Youth, Gang Prevention Committee, Tiftarea Homeless Coalition and the Tifton Merchants Association. He has helped with several other community projects, such as Hands on Tifton and Meals on Wheels.

Hetzel is a member of First United Methodist Church and is a retiree from military duty. He served 25 years active duty with the United States Air Force and retired as a lieutenant colonel. During that time, he served 11 years in the Pacific Theatre. He was elected to the Georgia Municipal Association Board of Directors from 2008-2012 and appointed director of training in 2010.

Hetzel and his wife, Louise, have five children (one deceased) and grandchildren.

Laura D’Alisera (post 7 (2019-2022)

Elected at the July 14, 2019, Annual Member Meeting to post 7, formerly occupied by Eileen Box. On the Songwriting Contest Committee for 2019, 2020, and 2021, and Winner of the 2018 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. Elected interim Secretary for the July 2021 Annual Member and Quarterly Board meetings.

Lives in Jacksonville, Duval County, FL.

Laura D'Alisera (Sara Jay)
Photo: Sara Jay, of Laura D’Alisera winning the 2018 First Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Interest in WWALS:

I am a long time resident in North Florida and for many years served on environmental organizations such as Greenscape of Jacksonville. Rivers don’t recognize geo-political boundaries and the Suwanee watershed graces and feeds Florida’s aquifer.


I have been an advocate for the St. Johns River and am concerned about the rampant development that is imparing the health of our watersheds. As an mitigation planner for the City of Jacksonville, I spent a good part of my working life trying to ameliorate the damage caused by inprudent development.

Trudy Cole (post 5, 2020-2023)

Elected to the Board at the July 12, 2020 Annual Member Meeting, to post 5, formerly occupied by Gretchen Quarterman, who was term-limited. Active member of the Testing and Grants Committees.

Lives in Brooks County, Georgia.

[Trudy #MomsforCleanWater]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Trudy Cole, #MomsforCleanWater. My River Is: All of them!!!
I am a Mom for Clean Water for my children and grandchildren.

Interest in WWALS:

I grew up in Colquitt County spending countless hours on the Little and Suwanee Rivers. I want to be active and contribute to WWALS.


I have been a member of the GA River Network since 2012, paddling over 600 miles of GA rivers. Was certified for water quality testing.

WWALS Former Board Members:

WWALS Former Board Members: Tom H. Johnson Jr. (former President), Garry Gentry (former Secretary), Dan Phillips, Gretchen Quarterman (Executive Director and former Treasurer), John S. Quarterman (Suwannee Riverkeeper and former President), Bobby McKenzie, Shirley Kokidko. Eileen Box, Phil Hubbard, Christopher J. Mericle, Karan A. Rawlins, Chris Graham, Al Browning.

Tom H. Johnson Jr. (post 8, 2019-2022)

Elected at the July 14, 2019, Annual Member Meeting to post 8, formerly occupied by Shirley Kokidko. Chair of the Songwriting Contest Committee for the 2020 Contest. Chair of the standing Nominating Committee.

Elected President at the July 12, 2020, board meeting, and again in July 2021. Resigned as President and from the Board September 28, 2021.

Lives in Pine Mountain, Harris County, GA.

[Tom H. Johnson Jr., 08:47:55, 30.84712, -83.34763]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, of Tom H. Johnson Jr. at Little River Confluence on first day of Paddle Georgia 2019 30.8471200, -83.3476300

Interest in WWALS:

Have had a bee in my bonnet about Valdosta/Lowndes sewage since 1968/9. Subsequently, led canoe outings for a number of individuals and groups on overnight trips on the Alapaha River, AND, more recently, with the exception of Big Shoals, have canoed from Big Water in the Okefenokee to Branford, Florida. As a pre-teen, my awareness of springs/blue holes/water table/pollution issues was awakened by my grandfather in the mid-60s, as he was unusually concerned about artesian wells in Georgia and springs in Florida (a FL native). My personal general water interest then kicked off after a visit to Mt. Whitney and seeing the subsidence of Owens Valley (now quadruple what it was then), and hearing that had been a major apple producer, and locally after collecting fossils in riverbeds, and dry caving in south Georgia and north Florida. Would like to see WWALS/Suwannee Riverkeeper as fully funded as possible, with three or four full-time PAID staff, including a biologist/geologist.


Interest in water. Worked for years in United Methodist related non-profits in development departments. First learned to fish and boat on black water (Okefenokee, Ohoopee, Ogeechee, Alapaha, Suwannee, Satilla, 10-Mile Creek off the Altamaha). Have continued to return to canoe in the Suwannee River basin since 1977, when I moved away. Have been shocked and hugely saddened at the unabated degradation of the blue springs I’ve witnessed.

Garry Gentry (post 2, 2012-2015, 2015-2016, 2019-2021)

Secretary. Resigned from WWALS board May 2016 due to personal reasons. Re-elected to the WWALS board 8 February 2019 and elected Secretary. Re-elected Secretary July 12, 2020. Resigned from Board June 2021 due to personal reasons.

Lives in Tift County, GA.

Photo: John S. Quarterman, of Garry Gentry reading the WWALS letter to the Georgia Public Service Commission asking for more solar power, June 18, 2013

Interest in WWALS:

I have been involved with WWALS since almost the beginning and common sense says we need clean water and good stewardship of our planet to leave as a legacy for the next generation.


I grew up on and own a farm in Irwinville, GA which borders on the Alapaha River and grew up accessing the Alapaha for hunting and fishing. I have been a political activist and environmental activist most of my life.

Dan Phillips (post 1, 2018-2021)

Elected to the board 14 July 2018 to Post 1, previously held by Dave Hetzel, who was term-limited. Chair of the Water Trails Committee. For personal reasons, declined to run for the board again when his term expired in 2021.

Lives in Hahira, Lowndes County, Georgia.

Photo: Phil Hubbard, of Dan Phillips winning First Solo Make Kayak
in the 2018 BIG Little River Paddle Race
Photo: Phil Hubbard, of Dan Phillips winning First Solo Make Kayak in the 2018 BIG Little River Paddle Race.

Interest in WWALS:

I look forward to the WWALS outings, learning and exploring our local rivers and places I have not been. I have been a member for over a year and have participated in many outings. It is rewarding to be involved with a group who cares and raises awareness for clean water and healthy waterways.


I grew up outdoors camping, fishing, and canoeing. I enjoy kayaking and being off the beaten path.

Shirley Kokidko (post 8, 2017-2019)

Formerly Assistant Secretary. Elected to the board 12 July 2017 to the remainder of the term for the board position formerly occupied by Chris Mericle. She did not run again in 2019.

Shirley gets her boat in Hardee Spring, 30.5446892, -83.2511847 Active in the Outings Committee and the PR Committee, for which she manages the WWALS Meetups.

Lives in Atkinson County, Georgia.

Interest in WWALS:

I look forward to every kayaking outing that the group sponsors and would like to contribute to the group so that others can also join and support our activities.


I have been updating the WWALS Meetup page as new outings are planned.

Eileen Box (post 7, 2017-2019)

Elected to the board 12 July 2017 to the remainder of the term for the board position formerly occupied by Al Browning. Did not run again in 2019.

Chair of the Events Committee and active in the Watershed Issues Committee.

Lives in Suwannee County, Florida.

Interest in WWALS:

Interest in protecting the environment/watershed. Raise awareness of watershed conservation issues, Citizen advocacy related to watershed conservation, Organize Informational sessions with invited speakers.


Conservation chair of Live Oak Woman’s club. Hosted several events related to protecting the environment: activist against Sabal Trail Pipeline, medical waste incinerator in Suwannee County. I will continue to host events in my community as needed.

Phil Hubbard (post 2, 2016-2018, 2018-resigned January 2019)

Former Secretary, and Former Chair of the Outings Committee. Elected July 13th 2016 to the remainder of the unexpired term of Garry Gentry, and re-elected.

Lives in Lowndes County, Georgia.

Interest in WWALS:

I have been kayaking for only a year. Prior to this I had limited knowledge of the surrounding rivers. I find it to very relaxing while being adventurous and that many others share these same interest. However, like myself they don’t know where to go. To me, kayaking on an open lake is rather boring. The local rivers provide challenges and skills while fulfilling my desires for adventure. I feel one of my contributions could be to help organize outings to educate and inform like minded people of the joys the river


I have a military background as well a professional driver. I have been a fleet manager for over 20 years. I coordinate the logistics of transportation daily and all that entails. I have been a hobbyist photographer since the 70’s and a professional motorsports photographer for some dozen years. I have the equipment and access to materials for trophies and awards.

Christopher J. Mericle (post 8, 2014-2016)

Lives in Hamilton County, FL.

Photo: Suwannee Democrat

Interest in WWALS:

My father bought a canoe when I was three. I have been on the water ever since. Canoeing and camping was what took most of my free time as a child and teenager. The Wekiva River in central Florida was my backyard. The Wekiva is one of the two National Wild and Senic Rivers in Florida. My wife Deanna and I now live on the Withlacoochee River in Hamilton County, FL. I grew up knowing the pristine waters of the Wekiva, my children grew up swimming in the clear springs on the Santa Fe and the Withlacoochee.

I first became aware of WWALS when I entered into the fight to stop the Sabal Trail Gas Pipeline. I knew something had to be done to save the very springs my children swam in for future generations to enjoy. This pipeline was the catalyst that made me aware of how passionate I am about preserving our precious water resources. WWALS is dedicated to that purpose. Over the years I have witnessed the decline of various waterways including the Wekiva and Withlacoochee Rivers. WWALS provides an avenue to advocate for the local watershed.

Working together to achieve common goals, WWALS is a voice for the watershed and surrounding environment that people hear and respect. It is that which I want to promote and be a part of.


Many years of canoeing, camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. Living on two spring fed rivers, witnessing the effect of human impacts.

Led the fight to move the Sabal Trail gas pipeline off the Withlacoochee River in FL (and was successful).

I know that if we can create a successful water trail for all to enjoy, the river and watershed will benefit from it.

People protect what they care about.

Karan A. Rawlins (post 6, 2012-2014, 2014-2017; resigned 2015)

Former Chair of the Events Committee. Lives in Tift County, GA.

Interest in WWALS:

Karan Rawlins resigned from the WWALS board in June 2015 due to press of ther commitments, for example as president of the Georgia Exotic Pest Council (GA-EPC). She remarked:

WWALS is great group with an important role to play in keeping our local waterways safe. You have done an amazing job and should be proud of your accomplishments.


Karan A. Rawlins is Invasive Species Coordinator for the Center for Invasive Species & Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia in Tifton. Rawlins earned a MS from University of Texas at Arlington.

Karan’s duties include development of educational and public outreach materials on invasive species; development of smartphone apps for collecting and reporting data on invasive species (; continuing the development of content for; BugwoodWiki ( and the Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States (; expanding the development and operation of the Georgia Invasive Species Task Force (; development of Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas; development and training associated with the Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System ( in Georgia and across the United States; development of the Invasive species Community of Practice in eXtension (; and collection of field survey data.

Karan is currently president of GA-EPPC; volunteers with citizen groups fighting invasive species; participates in conservation projects to preserve native habitats and the native species therein; and has contributed over 6500 images to the Bugwood Image Database System of both invasive and native species recorded during field work.

See Karan’s photographs in the Bugwood Image Database System

The 2nd edition of the Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing the Introduction and Spread of Invasive Species – How You Can Make a Difference

Chris Graham (post 3, 2013-2015)

Chair of the Alapaha Water Trail Committee. Lives in Lowndes County, GA.

Interest in WWALS:

He says:

“I feel I have accomplished a good deal in our area. Now that the Alapaha River Water Trail brochures are printed and WWALS is starting on the Withlacoochee River Water Trail, I feel it is time for someone in the Little River or Withlacoochee River watersheds to have an option to join the WWALS board to do something good for their river.”


Chris Graham helped oppose closing Lowndes County Road 16 (Old State Road) that was the only public access to the Alapaha river in Lowndes County, Georgia. He also helped get Lowndes County commissioners to fund with SPLOST dollars a Naylor Boat Ramp on the Alapaha River near HWY 84. Plus he helped to get the Alapaha River Water Trail started and remains the Chair of that Committee, which continues work on placing road signs and kiosks at access points and fundraising to do so.

Al Browning (post 7, 2012-2013, 2013-2016)

R.I.P. May 12, 1954 – September 28, 2019

Promoted water quality testing and education. Lived in Berrien County, GA.

Interest in WWALS:

In August 2012 at a water quality certification training he helped organize and present, Al Browning remarked:

Suppose there’s a business looking to south Georgia, to move into an area. They can go to the Adopt-A-Stream website for that particular area, and get an idea of where the best water is. And they may choose… that Berrien County has terrible water; I’m going to go to Cook County, or Lowndes!

Al continued to invite people to join WWALS in monitoring water quality.


Al Browning as a high school teacher was written up by Ashley Harper for WALB, 29 July 2003, Berrien students protect the environment,

Berrien High School is getting the community involved in their environmental clean up project. Their plan includes planting trees, flowers, and building a butterfly sanctuary on the new school grounds.

Tuesday, project leader Al Browning told city leaders the school needs their help to make it a success.

“Whether its by picking up a shovel or donating money, we need all the help we can get,” said Browning. “We want the community to get involved with the high school and know what our students are doing.”

Browning hopes to finish the project by December.

Last year, B.H.S students participated in the Adopt a Stream program and cleaned up the Alapaha River along Berrien Beach.

Al spoke about water quality and his river experiences at the 13 December 2014 Alapaha River Water Trail organizational workshop and he continues to talk to Berrien County about signs and further access for the Alapaha River Water Trail.

Advisory Committee

Please see separate web page.

19 thoughts on “Board

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  3. Pingback: Landowner on Withlacoochee River in Hamilton County FL moves to intervene against Sabal Trail -Chris Mericle - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  4. Pingback: Updated WWALS Brochure with Alapaha River Water Trail - WWALS Watershed Coalition

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  7. Pingback: Board and Committee members sought by WWALS Watershed Coalition, a WATERKEEPER® Affiliate - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  8. Pingback: WWALS Water Trails at Southern Georgia Regional Commission Council 2015-07-23 - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  9. Pingback: Hamilton Co. FL and Lowndes Co. GA asked to oppose Sabal Trail - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  10. Pingback: Rescheduled: WWALS Water Trails at Southern Georgia Regional Commission Council 2015-09-24 - WWALS Watershed Coalition

  11. Pingback: Draft Agenda, WWALS Board, 2016-01-13 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

  12. Pingback: WWALS outings on Chris Beckham drive-time radio WVGA 105.9 FM 7:30 AM 2016-01-15 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

  13. Pingback: Election of Board Members and Officers, Annual Member and Quarterly Board agendas 2016-07-13 | WWALS Watershed Coalition

  14. Pingback: Videos: Rivers against Sabal Trail in Live Oak —Suwannee RIVERKEEPER® 2017-01-12 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®)

  15. Paul Ruben


    I’m an ecologist based out of Tampa, FL. I am currently filming an amateur documentary about Florida’s natural systems and conservation initiatives. I would like to include information about the Sabal Trail pipeline and was wondering if there was anyone willing to have a short interview with me by March, 2017. Please let me know.


  16. Pingback: Kayak Raffle to be selected at Annual WWALS Member Meeting 2017-07-12 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®)

  17. Pingback: Notice: WWALS Annual Member Meeting and Board Meeting 2021-07-18 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

  18. Pingback: Agendas: WWALS Annual Member and Quarterly Board Meetings 2021-07-18 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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