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"Paddle sale? That's an oar deal"

One of our founding members, Steve Appleton, took some time to fill us in on how the pandemic has affected his business and how they're moving forward. Steve runs LA River Kayak Safari (LARKS), which helps people discover the beauty of the LA River through guided kayak tours. Within the last couple of weeks, the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA) announced the unfortunate news that kayaking and in-water activities have been prohibited due to COVID-19. For the unforeseeable future, no one is sure when kayaking will be back. Now you're just some kayak that I used to row..

"One good outcome is that we are focusing on new efforts in providing curriculum about amphibians for local STEAM schools for the first project of [our new organization] WISP."

- Steve Appleton, FtAB co-founder and owner of LA River Kayak Safari

With the river still in mind, they're refocusing their efforts on their new organization WISP (Water Institute of Science Policy), which will help schools provide curriculum about amphibians. Their first big collaboration is with Dorris Place Elementary School, where they plan to share what they have learned with the local youth by connecting a series of lessons to the river and its ecosystem.

Their first major effort with the school is "Listening to the Frogs of Frogtown." It's a project intended for students to listen first - not only to the little amphibians, but also to our local school leaders and teachers. Some of the native species have not been well-served in prior "studies" and mapping their existence and the unique conditions where they thrive is crucial for future park and river planning.

Some may not know that the frogs of Frogtown never went away. In the spring, you can hear the calls of our native frog, the Baja California Chorus Frog (pictured left). Steve says these thumb-size singers lift their spirits every year.

Steve and his wife Agnieszka are working as a team to bring this curriculum to life. Currently Steve is working in service as a volunteer to their efforts as he develops new business ideas to replace lost business. For Agnieszka, Steve mentions that she is well-suited for their new endeavor with a Master's Degree in Education with her thesis involving comparative work on the Finnish Education system, which values practical learning, art, nature, and physical activity.

"During these times where students are at home, the LA River might be an interesting place to introduce new, self-guided approaches to education and the delights of nature."

- Steve Appleton, FtAB co-founder and owner of LA River Kayak Safari

When they're not educating the youth of local frogs, you can find Steve and Agnieszka converting their bocci court to a victory garden. Steve says the new garden has given them an excuse to sit around late at night drinking something cold or hot, depending on the weather.

Do you have a story about how your business has adapted to the "new normal"? We'd love to hear! Please send stories to admin@ftab.biz to be featured.

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