[vc_row][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]The following articles were written for a variety of clients and purposes. If you wish to see more writing samples, or would like specific topics, please let me know.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_tta_accordion active_section=”99″ collapsible_all=”true”][vc_tta_section i_position=”right” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-pencil-square-o” add_icon=”true” title=”Promotional Nature Park Article `{`900 words`}`” tab_id=”1500521857323-c2ba6b75-7314″][vc_column_text css_animation=”fadeInUp”]

With her nose pressed against the exhibit’s glass, Ariel surveys the strange creatures inside. Each of them look back at her in amazement, sometimes even touching the glass and pointing right at her. Ariel takes another bite of lettuce and swims to the other side to get a better look.

Ariel is a manatee, and rather than enclose her inside a tank, the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park chose to build a “fishbowl,” an underwater observatory allowing guests to walk down stairs and gaze out into the water on all sides.

Ariel and her two manatee friends are permanent residents of the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park after various accidents in the wild led to necessary full-time care. Now they live together, sharing heads of lettuce they’re fed every day and meeting over 300,000 new faces every year.

The crystal clear water gushing up from the headspring below is approximately 45 feet beneath the fishbowl observatory. Guests will get a breathtaking view of the rock structures surrounding the spring and the many schools of fish that patrol it. And of course the manatees that call this spring home.

“The park is a delightful place to spend an hour or a day enjoying the beauty of natural Florida and learn about the delicate balance of its ecosystems,” said Susan Strawbridge, Park Services Specialist. “All of the wildlife in our park receive a great deal of enrichment.”

And it’s not just the manatees. The park is filled with rescued animals native to Florida. Yuma, a young Florida Panther, was saved in 2015 after being found abandoned in South Florida. Certain for death, volunteers with the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa cared for Yuma and nursed the cub back to health in a few months. However, in doing so, Yuma never learned to hunt for fend for himself. This meant he needed a home where he could be cared for with love and support. And there wasn’t a question where that would be.

“He’s my favorite one because he’s got really big claws and a big head,” said 6-year-old Casey Taylor, visiting from Oklahoma with her parents and younger brother. “I never saw one before today,” she exclaimed before trying to coax Yuma over with the promise of loving pats.

A short walk around the corner, visitors can experience the alligator lagoon, a uniquely-Florida experience. The nearby reptile room gives visitors a once in a lifetime opportunity to get face-to- face with some of Florida’s largest and most deadly snakes. Water moccasins, rattlesnakes, and even a snapping turtle are on display in a dark exhibit hall that’s not for the squeamish.

Karen Nicholls, a mother of two young boys, decided to stay outside and watch the otters play. “My boys love those things. I do not. I think the otters and foxes are cute. They do not. But that’s okay, because we’re all getting to see and experience what we like,” she said as her boys emerged from the reptile exhibit with mouths agape.

The boardwalk zip-zags through other animal habitats, including black bears, red wolves, and a plethora of bird exhibits. Eventually, the boardwalk loops back to the middle of the park, where a certain resident animal is breaking the only rule to be followed by the animals that live here.

This park wasn’t always home to native Florida wildlife. Before its official State Park designation, this popular tourist attraction housed exotic animals such as lions, tigers, and even a hippopotamus. When the state of Florida took over responsibilities for the park in 1989, they had a problem: what to do with all these exotic animals. Zoos from around the country took in these wayward animals, all except one…

Lucifer, a 2-ton hippopotamus, wasn’t an easy traveler, and frequent guests to the park had fallen in love with him. So to skirt the rule, then-Governor Chiles granted official state citizenship to Lu, allowing him to be as “native” as he’ll ever be. And Lu couldn’t be happier with it.

“He’s why I come here so much. We were born the same year. We’re buddies,” said Ed Billert, a local regular to the park and Lu-enthusiast. “Where else are you gonna see a hippo without buying a plane ticket?”

And that’s a good point. Lu is one of only a handful of hippos left in America, as zoos do not typically bring them in anymore. Much like Ed, this hippo will live out his retirement in sunny Florida, cared for by the incredible volunteers he has come to know and love.

From the captain of the boat that brings you down Pepper Creek to the park’s entrance, to the ranger that feeds Ariel her heads of lettuce every day, the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is made possible thanks to the dedication of its over-300 volunteer workers. Without them, there is no home for Ariel, Yuma, Lu, or any of the hundreds of other rescued animals that live here year round. Visiting this park not only provides an incredible experience for guests of all ages, it also supports the tireless work of all those who give their time to these animals.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section i_position=”right” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-pencil-square-o” add_icon=”true” title=”Zip-Lining Business Article `{`500 words`}`” tab_id=”1500521813976-a995d6c3-4f73″][vc_column_text css_animation=”fadeInUp”]

Climbing up the wooden ladder, my hands began to sweat. While only 15 feet above the ground, it felt like a skyscraper when I looked around. Cradled by green tree tops and cheered by the songs of birds, I was in another world atop the first platform.

The goal was simple: get from this landing to the next. But the method was anything but simple – and that’s what makes Faith Haven’s Tree Top Adventure one of most unique and exciting excursions around.

After just a few challenge courses including zigzagging around logs and walking across suspended platforms, I found myself stuck. My guide was on the platform just behind me, reminding me to breath and focus on the task at hand.

“Hold the black rope and don’t let both your feet rest on the same board,” he calmly said to me as I swung back and forth on a wood beam.

It was against my instinct to remove my feet from the board I was on, but I took his word for it. And sure enough, I had made it to the next platform safe and sound. What a rush it was to be faced with a seemingly-impossible obstacle, yet overcome it by trusting in myself and others.

That’s exactly what owner Scott Baggerly intended when he created Crystal River’s first and only zip line and tree top adventure course.

“It helps build self-confidence and reminds you to trust in yourself,” Scott said to me from the ground. “It’s what I want to offer everyone that comes here.”

After completing the first eight challenges, including my personal favorite: a suspended platform on wheels that you “surf” from one tree to another, you arrive and your first zip-line. My guide was on the platform with me to give a quick refresher course on how to safely ride the line. And before I knew it, I was soaring through the forest.

I zipped through the shaded maze, which includes riding over marshlands and through pine forest, each course more breathtaking and exhilarating than the last. I couldn’t help but laugh and high five my guide every time we made it to the next platform, and it didn’t seem like he minded.

I had completed the course in what felt like 15 minutes, but was actually just shy of two hours. It was an indescribably rush of adrenaline and satisfaction. I had been faced with challenges I’ve never tackled before, yet overcame them with excitement and hoopla.

Faith Haven’s Tree Top Adventure is a must for anyone looking for a challenging, fun, and engaging way to reconnect with yourself and others. I highly encourage anyone to give it a go, and bring your friends and family for a unique trust-building excursion unlike anything else.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][vc_tta_section i_position=”right” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-pencil-square-o” add_icon=”true” title=”Sports & Humor Article `{`1,500 words`}`” tab_id=”1500521996741-55df22e3-19b8″][vc_column_text css_animation=”fadeInUp”]Welcome to the SEC, Missouri and Texas A&M! Grab some barbecue, a light beer, and pull down the tailgate, you gone get some learnin’ today. First and foremost, you need to know who you’re up against in terms of crazy fandom. Rumor has it; you guys think you know football. That’s adorable. So before you start making a fool of yourself, here’s what you need to know.

The SEC West. Welcome, Texas A&M. You drew the short stick. You will be actively competing with Arkansas for mediocrity and if you’re lucky, LSU and Alabama will each have the flu for 12 weeks and you can have your shot at a division title. Don’t count on it. Here’s the fraternal order you belong to:


Alabama Crimson Tide

Mascot: An elephant, for some reason.

Should you hate them? Yes, absolutely.

Bio: If you’re lucky enough to find a Bama fan with most of their teeth, they will be quick to point out they have no idea how many National Championship they have, they just know they have the most. They will claim every National Title not nailed down. You know their history is full of BS when no one can keep the story straight as to how many championships they’ve won. And in the state of Alabama, a Heisman Trophy doesn’t matter- much like dental hygiene.

Best joke: How many Alabama fans does it take to change a light bulb? About 75,000. One to change the bulb, and 74,999 to stand around and talk about how great the old one used to be.


Arkansas Razorbacks

Mascot: A hog. Remember, YOU chose to join this conference.

Should you hate them? Probably.

Bio: They haven’t been relevant in over three decades and their head coach just got fired for what used to be considered a fun night in Arkansas. Since they joined the SEC in 1992, they’ve made it to the SEC Championship game three times, where they have been outscored 34-102. Bobby Petrino, their recently-disgraced former-head coach, is their winningest coach since joining the SEC. And he went 17-15 in conference play. At some point, you’ll forget they even exist until they show up on your schedule.

Best joke: Their mascot is a 400 pound pig. Nothing offends these people.


Auburn Tigers

Mascot: A tiger and I guess an eagle?

Should you hate them? Yup.

Bio: Auburn’s best season was just a few years ago. And because Alabama hates Auburn, the Crimson Tide went and one-upped them the very next year, effectively rescinding Auburn’s right to brag about anything ever again. Some fans are quick to state that Auburn is the 13th winningest football program in history and somehow that matters (Tennessee is 11th, so really think about how little it matters). Don’t ask them to explain the eagle- they don’t know either.

Best joke: When a minor fire broke out at Auburn’s football dorms, about 20 books had been lost in the fire. This prompted Steve Spurrier to reply “the real tragedy is that 15 of them had not been colored yet.” Still one of my favorite zingers.



Mascot: Another tiger.

Should you hate them? Yes, absolutely.

Bio: First, realize you WILL lose to them in the most spectacularly strange way possible. It’s happened to everyone. Rules do not apply to them. When Alabama’s not winning the West, look to LSU to swing in and take it. Their fans are known for their ‘corn-dog smell’ though I’ve never got so close to smell one. Their biggest embarrassment came last year when they beat Alabama in the wrong game.

Best joke: What do you get when you put 32 LSU cheerleaders in a room? A full set of teeth.


Mississippi State

Mascot: Bulldogs (Yeah, we’ve got two of them too)

Should you hate them? Meh.

Bio: They won the West once! How long ago? The top grossing film of that year was Armageddon. They bang cowbells for some reason- but it usually stops by the 3rd quarter when they’re down by three scores. Their biggest game of the year comes when they play their arch-rival Ole Miss in what is nauseatingly called the ‘Egg Bowl.’ You now know everything a Mississippi State graduate knows.

Best joke: Did you hear Pearl Jam will be playing at Davis Wade Stadium? They’re 10-point favorites.


Ole Miss

Mascot: A racist bear

Should you hate them? Probably.

Bio: Sweet Lord, there is no sadder team in the SEC West. When Houston Nutt was hired in 2007 as head coach, he said “the way you spell fun is W-I-N.” The Rebels never had fun since. In 2011, Nutt’s last year, the Rebels went 2-10 and 0-8 in conference play, including a 31-3 thrashing from rival Mississippi State. Not sure what’s sadder, that- or the fact that their official colors are “Yale Blue” and “Harvard Red.” C’mon, guys, get real.

Best joke: What’s the difference between Rice Krispies and the Ole Miss Football team? Rice Krispies go to a bowl.


The SEC East. Welcome, Missouri. I see you’re also known as the Tigers. The good news is you’re going to be hard pressed to come in last in this division. The bad news is, you probably will at some point. But on the plus side of it all, you get to visit some really neat stadiums. Meet your brethren:



Mascot: Gator (Seriously spelled and pronounced that way)

Should you hate them? Yes, absolutely.

Bio: They won two National Championships in three years and they will never let you forget that. Also, Jesus attended class there a few years ago and even won a Heisman. You are also not allowed to forget that. Realize however that since Urban Meyer left, the whole program looks like the Red Cross should be on hand and you apparently can’t throw a rock without hitting a pothead. You will sweat your balls off at every game you attend- even in November.

Best joke: What do you call 11 Florida Football players in a huddle? A drug circle.



Mascot: The Bulldogs (or just Dawgs, depending on which inbred you ask)

Should you hate them? Yup.

Bio: Fewer fans in this world are as obnoxious as Georgia Bulldog fans. Sure, Alabama, Florida, and LSU fans are equally as bad- but they’ve all won at least two National Championships in the past 30 years. Georgia won two as well- but you probably weren’t alive then. Still, that doesn’t stop a Dawg fan from barking like their team just won it all last year. Their mascot is named Uga- a joke in and of itself- and their head coach only performs well when he’s about to get canned.

Best joke: I’ve taken dumps that lasted longer than Uga VIII.



Mascot: Wildcat

Should you hate them? Why would you?

Bio: This team is adorable. I assume every team in the SEC fist pumps when they see they have Kentucky on their schedule. Currently, Florida has beaten them 26 times in a row. Meaning no one on either team’s roster was alive the last time Kentucky beat Florida. It’s the longest active, continual ass beating in college football. Losing to Kentucky is like striking out with a fat chick. It will ruin your year.

Best joke: What’s 100 yards long and has 12 teeth? Front row at Commonwealth stadium.


South Carolina

Mascot: Gamecock (Too easy)

Should you hate them? Probably.

Bio: They actually won the East back in 2010 for the first time, so give them a pat on the back. They’ve gone to 17 bowl games and almost won six of them. If it weren’t for the acquisition of Steve Spurrier in 2005, their entry would be very similar to Kentucky’s. But the Ol’ Ball Coach has lifted the Cocks from low-level conference fodder, to the mighty mediocre bunch of misfits you see today. If they were to make a trophy room of all their accomplishments in football, they’d have to include a suicide hotline number because that room would be damn depressing.

Best joke: Know why Steve Spurrier wears a visor? To cover the circumcision scar.



Mascot: Volunteers (So if you know anyone with some free time, send them over)

Should you hate them? Probably.

Bio: Tennessee is forever in the year 1998. That was the last time they won anything of importance. They claim six National Titles, but only one since 1968. They’ve gone through head coaches more often than they change underwear.  Frankly, their head coach needs a job at FEMA.  I’ve never seen a stadium of 100,000 people evacuate in three hours.

Best joke: Derek Dooley.



Mascot: A Commodore or something?

Should you hate them? Why would you?

Bio: I frankly forgot these guys even existed. I can’t think of the last time they had a winning conference record. Consider these guys your safety net of embarrassment. Lucky for them, no hot girls attend their school, so they won’t be distracted while completing their physics paper. Nerds.

Best joke: Their record.[/vc_column_text][/vc_tta_section][/vc_tta_accordion][/vc_column][/vc_row]