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Reelfoot Forward

Author: Reelfoot Forward

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Podcast by Reelfoot Forward
149 Episodes
As chairperson of the Arts Council of Crockett County, Tennessee Sarah Conley champions fine arts in the rural community named in honor of David Crockett. In this episode, she shares details from her journey so far including a childhood in Bells, Tennessee and early theatrical training with nationally acclaimed teacher of high school speech and drama, Freda Kenner. Today, Conley enthusiastically works to make certain people of all ages have access to arts of all kinds. This episode is sponsored by Parker’s Outfitting.
Tosha and Chris Gurley’s love story began with their “first child” Jack, a pet black-capped capuchin monkey. After Chris sold his cattle and goats, he decided to buy five buffalo. Next came the zebra, kangaroos and giraffes. It quickly grew from there into what is now Southland Safari in Clarksburg, Tennessee. Along for the ride with Tosha and Chris from the beginning, was their friend and legendary tour guide, Michael Avery. In this episode, Tosha and Michael share more about their story and the big commitment they made to leave their full-time jobs to run a zoo and luxury destination. Get a sneak peek of Michael at work with the animals from their Instagram or TikTok accounts, @southlandsafaritn. Better yet, plan your visit on their website for an up close and personal tour or luxury lodging experience.
Originally from Memphis, Dr. Yancy Freeman is the new chancellor at the University of Tennessee at Martin. In this episode, we discuss his path back to West Tennessee and the guidance he provides for today’s students. After completing his undergraduate, masters and doctorate from UT Chattanooga, Dr. Freeman served at the university for the past 25 years in various admissions, recruitment and enrollment roles. “West Tennessee has always been near and dear to my heart,” Dr. Freeman expresses as he reflects on being back in the part of the state that feels like home. This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. Leaders is insured by the NCUA.
“You do not have to be defined by your circumstances, but you’re defined by the choices that you make every single day.” These are words that Miss Volunteer America 2024, Hannah Perrigin, lives by. In this episode, we go back to her beginning where Ms. Perrigin decided she was not going to be another statistic of at-risk youth. You may be surprised to learn that time competing in pageants didn’t start until she was in college. In 2019, she was crowned Ole Miss Most Beautiful. This is when she was encouraged to continue. We also discuss the good and bad of social media and why she chooses to share both as a way to inspire her followers. Learn more about how pageants have changed over the years and the platform it’s given her.
Obion County resident Kimberly Green Bugg is an award-winning artist and member of the Oneida Nation on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Canada. She began dancing and competing in Powwows in 1994 as a Southern Traditional Buckskin dancer, a traditional dance among the southern nations, and in 1997, she was selected as the Memphis Powwow Princess. In this episode, Bugg shares more about exploring her Native American culture, the importance of powwow celebrations and her work keeping Native American traditions alive today. Kim and her husband, David, lead the planning team responsible for the inaugural Northwest Tennessee Native American Educational Powwow at Discovery Park of America on October 27-29, 2023, so she also provides behind-the-scenes details about the unique event. This episode is sponsored by Parker’s Outfitting.
The Denver Nuggets won the NBA Championship on June 12, 2023. The cameras caught Assistant Coach Popeye Jones hugging Finals MVP Nikola Jokic afterward and saying, “Hey! Thank you! Thank you!” In this episode, we sit down with Popeye to not only discuss what he was thinking at that moment but also take a trip down memory lane to where it all started in Dresden, Tennessee. He discusses fatherhood, what it’s like to raise sons with a passion for a different sport, and how he sat them up for success as professional athletes. In 2007, Ronald “Popeye” Jones was inducted into the Murray State University Hall of Fame. His jersey No. 54 is retired at MSU and hangs in the CFSB Center's rafters.
Stacie and Larry Overton visited Tennessee and discovered what Stacie calls “heaven on earth.” After purchasing a farm in Hollow Rock, they embarked on an inspiring journey that resulted in Lavender Kisses Farm. Located between Memphis and Nashville, visitors to the farm can experience fields of lavender, shopping, hayrides and a small herd of shaggy Highland Coos, a Scottish breed of rustic cattle. In this episode, Stacy shares details about her life as a widow, career as a talent agent, years on reality television, traveling around the country in an RV and how it all led to a field in Tennessee where she planted 4,000 lavender plugs. After this episode, you’ll want to plan a Lavender Kisses Farm experience for you and your family, so visit This episode is sponsored by The Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.
In anticipation of the David Crockett Birthday Celebration at Discovery Park on Sat. August 12, 2023, this special episode features Wade Dillon, a professional illustrator, historian and David Crockett tribute artist. Included in the books he has illustrated is “Davy Crockett from A to Z.” Wade is currently working on a graphic novel based on Crockett’s life. In this episode, he shares how, as a young boy living in Florida, he discovered the “King of the Wild Frontier,” and how his lifelong passion for art, film and history led him to a career at The Alamo in Texas and to his current role as museum manager at the Freeport Historical Museum. You can follow him and check out his illustrations at and
Rev. Brad Barton is the author of the popular young-adult Enchanted Bell Tower series. After spending time in full-time ministry, Brad and his wife Susan, also a minister, traveled the United States in a tiny trailer producing a travel blog and podcast. In this episode, he shares more about his favorite camping spots, the importance of travel to his family and tips and tricks on writing, publishing and marketing a book series. Fun fact: Brad’s father was a packaging engineer who invented the metallic balloon. You can download and order Brad’s book series on
Marsh Naidoo of Dyersburg, Tennessee is an author, physical therapist, blogger and host of the “Raising Kellan” podcast. Her son, Kellan, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in 2013. In Marsh’s blog and podcast she shares her journey negotiating the uncharted territory of raising a child with developmental delay. In this episode, Marsh talks about some of the challenges and many rewards of raising Kellan, the importance of travel in her life, how she thrives in a rural community after a lifetime in big cities and more. Currently, Marsh is planning a conference for parents, grandparents, educators and others who are working with children with developmental delays to be held August 26, 2023 at Fyrne Lake Farms in Dyersburg. For more information and links to her blog, podcast and books, visit This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps. This episode is sponsored by White Squirrel Winery.
Steve Watkins has spent time as a journalist, capitol hill press secretary, rancher, publisher, marketer, author of two award-winning books and is an excellent chef of “down-home cooking.” His work has garnered him a reputation as a champion of authentic Southern culture. Steve and his wife Dana have recently moved into the Discovery Park neighborhood, making their home on Reelfoot Lake in Samburg, Tenn. There, he’s building a hunter’s lodge and planning a weekend retreat for writers Sept. 21-24, 2023. In this episode, Steve shares how a letter from Jimmy Carter he received as a child started him down the path as a writer, his philosophy for handling life when times get hard and where he finds the inspiration to continue to try new things that make a difference in the lives of those he encounters. For more about Steve and his upcoming writer’s conference, visit
Obion County, Tennessee native Philip Jett has released his third book, “Stranded in the Sky: The Untold Story of Pan Am Luxury Airliners Trapped on the Day of Infamy.” It tells the fascinating true story of four Pan Am flying clippers with wealthy and affluent passengers on board on December 7, 1941. After the assault on Pearl Harbor, they were stranded within the vast boundaries of the Pacific Ocean. Pan Am crews and their frightened passengers were left with no choice but to make their own way across the volatile Pacific Ocean and do their best to survive—if they could. In this episode, Jett shares details about some of those on board, insights into his writing process and why he believes this is a story that needs to be told. You can purchase “Stranded in the Sky: The Untold Story of Pan Am Luxury Airliners Trapped on the Day of Infamy” on Amazon and many other places books are sold. This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps. This episode is sponsored by the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center.
Lisa Smartt of Dresden, Tennessee loves to make people laugh. A motivational humorist and writer, she travels nationally speaking to groups on a variety of fun and interesting topics. In her own words, “I'm always open to designing new talks to meet a group's needs as long as they don’t need insight into algebra, organizational skills, map reading or pet counseling.” She’s also a writer who has published a number of books and a popular newspaper column. In this episode, Lisa shares stories from her childhood, how she discovered her talent for public speaking and tips to use when listeners find themselves in front of an audience. Tip number one: be your authentic self. You can follow Lisa at This episode is sponsored by the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge. This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps.
This week's episode features two guests who have the unique opportunity to impact the lives of young people every single day—Chase Treece, the current youth pastor for Crosswind Church and NWTN Young Life Staff Associate for Union City, Tenn., and Morgan Goodman, the NWTN Young Life Staff Associate for the Martin, Tenn. They both share a passion for connecting with students in the most transformational times of their lives—middle and high school. Chase takes us on an adventure into the great outdoors, sharing his love for hunting in the region, specifically Reelfoot Lake. He also shares his insights on the importance of community involvement and his rewarding experiences working with young people. During our conversation with Morgan, he shares his personal experiences with Young Life and how the program has inspired him to help others. To learn more about Young Life, visit This episode is sponsored by Leaders Credit Union. This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps.
The popular Cooper family, led by father Josh, recently visited Discovery Park and created content already receiving thousands of views. The family is well known for creating off-beat comedy, under the name Uploads of Fun, which has captured the attention of millions of viewers across various social media platforms. You’ll have to watch their video to find out if they rated Discovery Park as “slay or no way.” In this podcast episode, we discuss Josh Cooper’s background in brand management, his journey to becoming a full-time content creator, the power of social media in today's digital age and the role his family plays in his work. We also explore his family’s unique style of humor and discover why it resonates with such a broad audience. You can check out their visit to Discovery Park here: This episode is sponsored by The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.
On the morning of Friday, April 5, 1968, West Tennessean Norman Lane, a recent casualty of the Vietnam War, lay in repose in a government-issued casket at the Brownsville, Tennessee Funeral Home. On the same morning, at the R.S. Lewis Funeral Home in Memphis, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lay in repose in a temporary bronze casket. The world knows the story of Dr. King’s life and his legacy. Now, thanks to the research and work of Al Claiborne, the world will discover the sacrifice of Lane. In this episode, Claiborne, Brownsville native and Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, shares details from his new book, “A Time Past, Or What Might Have Been . . . The Odyssey of Norman Lane.” Included in the conversation is how Claiborne used letters, interviews with his friends and colleagues and a thorough dive into all kinds of archival materials to tell one soldier’s inspiring story. You can purchase the book at or find out more about Norman Lane at This episode is sponsored by the Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge. This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps.
Get ready to be inspired by this episode with segments recorded at the third annual Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Discovery Awards. At this special annual event, we honored four amazing individuals who, like Discovery Park, believe in the power of leading others to explore and discover. In this episode, 2023 honorees Amy L. Bondurant, Keith Carver, James Ross and John S. Tanner share thoughts on their impressive careers and the importance of inspiring children and adults to see beyond. Honoree James Ross summed up the spirit of the evening when he stated, “A lot has been said here tonight about thanking us, but I'm here to tell you, what an incredible environment this is for kids as well as adults to be able to expose themselves to not only the sciences but to the arts and to our history. To that, we owe this institution a huge, huge round of applause.” To give to Discovery Park, visit:
Are you ready to dive into the fascinating world of baseball history and heritage? In this episode, we sit down with Scott Guyman, the owner of the Fulton Railroaders, as he explores the intersection of baseball, legacy and culture. The Fulton Railroaders is a small-town league that invites players from across the country to play a 40-game schedule during the summer, all with a wooden bat. Guymon outlines the important role that baseball has played in shaping our West Tennessee communities and the history of the Fulton Railroaders. He takes us on a journey through the history of baseball as he shares his deep knowledge of the game and his experience running a successful minor league team. This episode is sponsored by Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.
In this episode, we welcome Powerhouse Athletics owner, Jacob Dublin. We hear about Dublin’s affinity for being a new business owner and a mentor to the young people of West Tennessee.  Dublin shares his transition from student to coach and the values he learned from his own experiences as an athlete at Bryan College. He discusses how his belief in humility, hard work and a practical outlook has led him to a leadership role and how these practices guide and inspire him in his work with high school athletes.  This episode is sponsored by Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge.  This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps.
Museum curator Katie Burke was a key member in the development and design of the Ducks Unlimited Waterfowling Heritage Center located in Bass Pro Shops' superstore in the Memphis Pyramid. Today, she is director of the interactive museum that raises awareness of wetlands and waterfowl conservation, emphasizes the importance of rivers and wetlands to society and illustrates the role that hunters play in conserving wildlife habitat and the waterfowl resource. In this episode, Burke discusses the career path that led her to Ducks Unlimited, the importance of wildlife conservation and her involvement in the upcoming Discovery Park exhibit “Duck, Duck, Goose: Waterfowl of the Mississippi Flyway.”  This episode is sponsored by Reelfoot National Wildlife Refuge. This podcast episode is available online on Soundcloud, Castbox, Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify and other popular podcast platforms and apps.
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