Chattahoochee River Valley subject of website created as project at Auburn University

AUBURN – The Auburn University Department of Communication and Journalism students, faculty and staff have developed a website dedicated to the Chattahoochee River Valley, a 430-mile stretch of land beginning in North Georgia and ending near the Florida state line, rich in Southern culture and history.

“The idea of the Chattahoochee Heritage Project is to offer a multi-platform website that focuses on the people, places, history and culture of the Chattahoochee River Valley,” said Ric Smith, director of experiential learning and executive producer of the site.

Smith said he and site designer Kevin Smith created the site with intentions of providing outreach for the Chattahoochee Valley community, while creating a learning lab for the students working on the project.

“The experience was one of the best I’ve had during my time at Auburn,” said Kathryn Johnson, senior in radio, television and film. “I was born and raised in Eufuala, Ala., which sits on the Chattahoochee, so I really took pride in the content I produced.”

Johnson became involved with the project through Ric Smith’s broadcast news production class. Johnson said her contributions were time intensive, often taking five to seven hours a week of traveling, interviewing and writing.

For Johnson, the time paid off, as the story she produced receives the most hits on the site, month after month.

“Kathryn’s story is a perfect example of what the site is all about,” said Ric Smith of the feature that tells the story of Butch Anthony and John Henry, folk artists from Seale, Ala. Johnson’s story is one among many that give an intimate glimpse of the people of the Chattahoochee Valley. Others stories focus on a range of topics from history and attractions to places and art.

Additionally, the project also includes stories on the 112 miles after the Chattahoochee ends, following the waters through the Apalachicola River and into the Gulf of Mexico.

“This project helped me discover just how special the people and culture of the Chattahoochee Valley are, and that’s why I think the project is so important,” said Johnson. “It’s a great tool for educating those who visit the site, while also documenting and celebrating the heritage of the Chattahoochee.”

Ric Smith, who hopes to eventually get high school students involved, said the site will continue far into the future, “The site will never be complete; students will continue to write for the project for years to come. There are so many stories untold that will continue to tell until there are no more.”

To visit the website, go to www.chattahoocheeheritage.org.

(Written by Katie Horn.)

Contact: Ric Smith, (334) 844-2757) (smithrw@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)