About Us

Higher Pursuits was founded in 1998 in Columbia, TN 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. We decided to begin build the canoe base and start offering kayak and canoe rentals.  We selected the Duck River because of it amazing diversity of wildlife and the beauty of the section of river that flows through Maury County. We started with a love for the river and a passion for paddling and then built from there.

Canoe and Kayak Rentals

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. Shortly after we opened the canoe base, we became a Jackson Kayak dealer, specializing in the recreational and fishing lines of kayaks produced by Jackson Kayaks in Sparta, TN. For the many customers who have been with us since the beginning, they 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.

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. We provide 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.

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

Dawn has extensive experience in the field of experiential education and outdoor trips. Before founding Higher Pursuits, she 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, she 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 1 Instructor, Kayaking
  • American Canoe Association, Swift Water Rescue
  • Leave No Trace, Master Trainer
  • Outward Bound Instructor Practicum, Outward Bound Table Rock
  • Trained in Basic Water Safety, Small Craft Safety, Swift Water Rescue
  • First Aid, CPR
  • Trained in Wilderness First Aid

Jan Seufert – Co-Owner, Higher Pursuits

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

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. She is a Colonel in the US Army Reserves and will retire from the Army with 30 years of service this spring. Jan 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

  • Bachelor of Science, Computer Science, United States Military Academy, West Point
  • Masters of Business Administration, University of Maryland
  • Masters of Strategic Studies, US Army War College
  • American Canoe Association, Level 3, River Canoeing Instructor
  • American Canoe Association, Level 1, Kayaking Instructor
  • Trained in Basic Water Safety, Small Craft Safety, and Moving Water Safety
  • Certified True Colors Facilitator