Last Friday, Tarpon Bay Explorers hosted members of the Southwest Florida Chamber of Commerce to kayak through the mangrove forests of Tarpon Bay on a guided tour. Over twenty individuals from a myriad of businesses over Southwest Florida were able to experience the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge from the water. Not only was the excursion aesthetically appealing and educational, but the trip had another motive: skill building. The individuals who participated are part of a program called Leadership Lee County. Leadership Lee County’s mission is to identify, develop and inspire future leaders through professional development, educational opportunities and community involvement which coincides perfectly with the Southwest Florida’s Chamber of Commerce’s mission to build leadership as a strategic contribution to the community.

“We were thrilled to host the Southwest Florida Chamber of Commerce. The kayak tour was a unique way to help businesses and community leaders improve their skill sets,” explained General Manager and part-owner of Tarpon Bay Explorers, Wendy Schnapp. Many of the participants were unacquainted and were from different business backgrounds. “Everyone did awesome,” said Schnapp, “I was impressed how well everyone worked together especially since many were strangers,” reiterated Schnapp. Conditions were on the breezier side, but once the paddlers were in the trail, serenity started to kick in. Commodore Creek was its usual host to a variety of wildlife including wading birds, crustaceans and fish. “It was also nice to share local ecology with locals,” explained Schnapp. “Not everyone knows about Southwest Florida’s local flora and fauna, so it was great to show those who normally do not get to experience that, what a mangrove forest on a barrier island has to offer,” shared Schnapp.
Tarpon Bay Explorers is the concession to the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge. The Explorers offer informative tours and recreational activities every day. The tours are a fun way to learn about wildlife that lives within a mangrove estuary. Rentals are great to enjoy refuge lands on one’s own. Visit their website at or call their gift shop at 239-472-8900 for reservations or more information.