Our Story

Our story begins in 1998, Dawn and Jan founded Higher Pursuits that year with the goal of providing quality teambuilding at an affordable price. For the first eleven years, we focused primarily on teambuilding programs with portable initiatives and activities. We also offered guided canoe and kayak trips on a limited basis.

In 2009, as the economy shifted, we needed to reevaluate our business and expand our operation. At that time, we decided to begin building the canoe base and start offering kayak and canoe rentals.  We selected the Duck River because of its amazing diversity of wildlife and the beauty of the section of river that flows through Maury County. Our Higher Pursuits Canoe base started with a love for the river, a passion for paddling and then built from there.

In 2010, the canoe base officially opened and we began our rental operation on the Duck River. For the first time Higher Pursuits had a permanent location, our Duck River Canoe Base. Many of you have been with us since the beginning and have watched our operation grow from operating out of a tent to what you see today.  We have been so fortunate to have a wonderful staff throughout the years and an even better group of loyal customers

If you are interested in joining our team and potentially working for us, find out more about our jobs and how to apply on our Work for us page.

Our Goals

Our goal at the canoe base is to offer a rental operation that is paddler friendly and paddler focused. Both Dawn and Jan are paddlers and we wanted a business that focused on what paddlers need in order to have a great experience on the river.  We strive to create a family friendly atmosphere where parents and children can enjoy the river together. Our staff strives to provide the best service as well as quality boats and equipment that will help you have a more enjoyable day on the beautiful Duck River.

Through our guided trips and educational programs, our goal is to teach others about paddling, navigating the river, and the rich history this area has to offer. We continue to offer teambuilding and team bonding programs, but now have the added capability to not only provide programs at our canoe base but also the ability to add a day of paddling for your group.

Building the Canoe Base

The Higher Pursuits Canoe Base started out as just a field of overgrown weeds and piles of wood. Since 2010, we have built what you see today with the help of many friends, family, neighbors and staff.  We thank them all for their dedication and support over the years.

The Management Team

Dawn Nelson – Co-Owner, Higher Pursuits

Co-Owner, Dawn Nelson
Dawn Nelson, Co-Owner

As the Co-Owner of Higher Pursuits, Dawn has extensive experience in the field of experiential education and outdoor trips. Before founding Higher Pursuits, Dawn worked for five years on the high and low ropes course at the Saturn, Inc. Excel program. She facilitated challenge courses and traveled around the country building, directing, and facilitating challenge course programs for GMC truck, Pontiac and Oldsmobile dealerships.

For fifteen summers, Dawn worked as the department head for the trip and ropes course program at Camp Tapawingo in Maine and a coed camp in Tennessee. She developed curriculum for the outdoor trips, managed the staff and trips, designed and implemented the risk management procedures, and led trips in the White Mountain National Forest, the North Woods of Maine, and the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee. Dawn received her BA in Education from Graham Bible College. Subsequently, Dawn spent nine years teaching junior high school at a private school. During this time, she taught and developed the physical education program and focused on teaching science and history.

As the Co-Owner of Higher Pursuits, Dawn has facilitated high and low ropes programs for corporations, colleges, teachers, youth groups, and other student groups. She is the lead trip guide for the Higher Pursuits guided canoe and kayak trips on the Duck River.

Education, Certifications and Training

  • Masters of Science, Health Physical Education and Recreation, Middle Tennessee State University
  • Bachelor of Arts, Education, Graham Bible College
  • Certified Maine Outdoor Trip Guide
  • American Canoe Association, Level 3 Instructor, River Canoeing
  • American Canoe Association, Level 2 Instructor, Kayaking
  • Leave No Trace, Master Trainer
  • American Canoe Association, Swift Water Rescue
  • Outward Bound Instructor Practicum, Outward Bound Table Rock
  • Trained in Basic Water Safety, Small Craft Safety, Swift Water Rescue
  • First Aid, CPR
  • Certified as a Wilderness First Responder
Certified Maine Guide
ACA instructor

Jan Seufert – Co-Owner, Higher Pursuits

Jan Seufert, Co-Owner
Jan Seufert, Co-Owner

The other Co-Owner of Higher Pursuits, Jan is a graduate of the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY. She has a BS in Computer Science, and MBA from the University of Maryland, and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College. After 30 years of service to our nation, Jan retired from the Army Reserves in 2019.

While in the Army, Jan deployed to both Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait. Jan also served almost two years at the Pentagon in Washington, DC in the Army Operations Center. During this assignment, she worked with the Headquarter, Department of the Army where she provided human resource management guidance to the senior leadership of the Army. She deployed in 2009 deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi/Enduring Freedom. As the Chief of Policy and Programs for the US Third Army, she managed the movement of over 140,000 Service Members to their Rest and Recuperation Site and oversaw a budget in excess of $50 Million dollars. During this assignment, she also assisted in the establishment of a new headquarters in Afghanistan, making several planning trips to this region.

As a Co-Owner of Higher Pursuits, Jan has facilitated high and low ropes courses and numerous True Colors programs to corporations, colleges and schools. She also serves as the lead trip guide for many of the guided canoe/kayak programs.

Education, Certifications and Training

ACA Instructor