John, 52, River Guide
John Ruskey has almost certainly spent more hours paddling on the Mississippi River than any other human alive. More than thirty years ago, Ruskey and a friend sent out on an ill-fated float down the river that ended in a near-drowning -- but rather than being terrified by the wild landscape, Ruskey fell in love. Based out of Clarksdale, Miss., Ruskey is now on a mission to help other Southerners find what he calls "the wilderness within" -- within the degraded Southern landscape and within our souls.
This spring, I spent three days paddling and camping with Ruskey on an expedition. Check out my profile of Ruskey at The Bitter Southerner.