Business and community leaders from around the state are learning first hand what south Georgia has to offer and the challenges our region faces.
The Institute for Georgia Environmental Leadership brought a group to south Georgia.
They toured the Flint River and learned how we could be affected by decisions made in Atlanta about water resources.
Thirty-five state leaders came to Newton to experience South Georgia's culture. Tuesday, they focused on the Flint River.
"Most of the time they are down here, they will be spending their time in a pick-up truck with a farmer, with a county commissioner, in a small group of two to three people, you get a very different story when you are talking to somebody in their home town about their issues," says Rob Williams, IGEL Program Co-facilitator.
As water policy becomes more important for leaders across the state, this trip became even more vital.
"Right now we find the state somewhat divided. Atlanta versus the rest of the state. We have got a lot of folks in this program from Atlanta and this will be their first chance to experience a gnat and actually see what happens down here in terms of large scale agriculture," says Williams
This paddle trip is a unique opportunity to understand how vital the Flint river is to south Georgia.
"There are arguments going on about who needs to cut back and I think everyone needs to understand each others uses before they start talking about cutting someone else back," says Gordon Rogers, Flint Riverkeeper.
Tuesday's trip gives these individuals a chance to see what it is like through the eyes of others.
"I think when you get to see it for yourself you really feel more of a connection to the river and to the wildlife and people that live along the river rather than just reading about it in a book," says Marc Goncher, Atlanta's Law Department Senior Assistant Attorney.
And they are hoping these experiences will stay with them in the future.
"When some of these policy decisions come up and many of them take place in Atlanta, they will remember the voice of a south west Georgia farmer and I think they will carry that message," says Williams.
And carrying that message, means more opinions are taken into consideration.
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