Ocean Strategies’ Hannah Heimbuch sat down with Tia Clark to learn more about her waterfront guide business, and how she turned a personal passion into a beloved community experience.
Tia Clark didn’t set out to be a waterfront guide. Initially, she was just looking for a healthy way to get outside. When a cousin took her crabbing for the first time, she found that and so much more.
“I’m Gullah Geechee. My family grew up in the heart of downtown Charleston, living off the land. One of my uncles was the fisherman in the neighborhood where everybody could come to his truck and he would have the scale on the back, you know, but something happened where I didn’t know that all this stuff was right around me in the water. That I’m eating all this food but just not making that connection.
That day on the water with my cousin, I made that connection in ways that truly just moved me. To where I wanted to keep doing that, and having that experience over and over again. So I went crabbing every day.”
That first day on the water turned to every day, turned to what is now an internationally award-winning business helping people build and re-build their relationship with the marine ecosystem. In the process, Tia works with State partners on habitat rehabilitation, and with school groups to help local youth grow an early appreciation for what the waterfront can offer them in terms of adventure, culture, food and more.
I teach people how to crab. That’s one way of saying it. Or you can say that I help people build an unbreakable bond with the water. I’m trying to teach people that you don’t have to have a boat. You don’t have to have money. You can have just as much fun and you can just really have this life changing bond with the natural resources that are around us. “