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Meet the Team


Jeff Holmes

Owner since 1992

ACA Level 2 Coastal Kayak Instructor Trainer

ACA Level 4 Coastal Kayak Instructor

Jeff started canoeing in 1975 when his dad purchased an aluminum canoe. The two spent hours using it as a fishing boat on a small lake outside of Farmington in Southeast Iowa. Later they began using it for short excursions on the Des Moines River between Bonaparte and Farmington.

In 1988 Jeff turned his attention to a new endeavor and began publishing Canoeing Iowa Magazine. This quarterly magazine detailed two to four paddling routes of 15 to 30 miles on various Iowa Rivers. Jeff paddled all of the routes personally and wrote the articles. This experience allowed him to log more than 1,000 solo canoeing miles on all the major waterways in Iowa.

In May of 1992 Jeff opened CanoeSport Outfitters, a retail store dedicated to promoting the sport of paddling. His paddling interests turned to whitewater kayaking as he frequently spent time on the Class II and III stretches of the Kettle River and the St. Louis River in Minnesota between Minneapolis and Duluth. Since then he's also paddled whitewater on the Green River and the Nantahala in the Carolina's, as well as the Knife River north of Duluth.

In 1998 Jeff earned a Level 3 ACA Sea Kayak Instructor Certification. He attained his Level 2 Coaching Certification through the British Canoe Union as well as a 4 Star Paddler rating in 2007. In 2012 he acquired his Level 4 ACA Sea Kayak Open Water Instructor Certification. He’s also been a guest instructor at the Inland Sea Kayak Symposium in Bayfield, WI. He’ guided dozens of trips in the Everglades, taken clients to the Louisiana Coast, the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, and the Georgia Coast. Currently Jeff is working on become a Kayak Instructor Trainer with the ACA.

Along with all his Iowa paddling trips Jeff has paddled Lake Superior, Lake Powell in Utah, the west coast of Vancouver Island, Tybee Island in Georgia, Matagorda Bay in Texas, Horn Island off the Mississppi Coast, the Appalachicola Bay in Florida, and more. He’s circumnavigated the North Core Bank in the Outer Banks in North Carolina, paddled a seven-day solo trip in the Everglades, and paddled the length of the Georgia Coast from Cumberland Island to Tybee Island and back.


Shireen Cave

Behind the scenes doer of all things

ACA Level 2 Stand Up Paddle Board Instructor

ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor

Shireen began paddling in 2008. Previously a social worker Shireen discovered kayaking walking by CanoeSport Outfitters on her lunch breaks. Having never been in a kayak before she jumped into Fundamentals I and II in April during a thunderstorm. Even after a slightly rough start her interest in kayaking grew. She began working for CanoeSport at the rental business at Lake Ahquabi part time. She bought her first kayak after just a few short months of paddling and has never looked back! By May of 2010 she quit her day job as a social worker and came to work full-time with CanoeSport.

Shireen has paddled on Lake Red Rock and many local rivers. She’s paddled the Louisiana Coast near Cypremort Point and the Georgia Coast near Tybee Island. She’s been on nearly a dozen Everglades trips and has paddled at several places along the Florida Gulf Coast. For the past 5 years she's also guided trips up to the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior. She’s also experienced the Boundary Waters by canoe. And after all that; every March she enjoys taking University of Iowa students to Lake Powell for a week long trip!

In 2012 she earned an ACA Level 2 Essentials of Stand Up Paddling Instructor Certification. In 2016 she upgraded her kayak certification to a Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor. 

Shireen has guided trips to the Everglades, Apostle Islands, Louisiana Coast, Lake Powell, and Lake Red Rock. She’s conducted several introductory courses for primitive camping. She currently teaches Stand Up Paddling classes, Stand Up Yoga clinics, and many of our Kayaking Fundamentals courses. 

In the shop Shireen enjoys introducing people to the fun of paddling and doing most of our boat repairs. She’s worked at getting CanoeSport into the technological age and now handles most of the website duties and social media for CanoeSport.

When Shireen isn't paddling she enjoys backpacking, reading, running ultra marathons, and painting.


John Pearson

ACA Level 3 Coastal Kayak Instructor

Originally from Detroit, Michigan, John Pearson is a professional ecologist who lived in Illinois, Wyoming, and South Dakota before moving to Iowa in 1985. Among his first paddling expeditions in the early 1970s were canoe trips in the wilderness areas of Alquonquin Provincial Park in eastern Ontario and the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia. John reactivated his zeal for paddling after coming to Iowa and discovering that CanoeSport Outfitters was headquartered in his new home town of Indianola.

Since then he has logged solo trips in the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area and winter sojourns to Padre Island along the Texas Gulf Coast, the Withlacoochee River in Florida, and the Buffalo River, Bull Shoals Lake, and Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks of Missouri and Arkansas. He has also kayaked in Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota), Yellowstone Lake (Wyoming), Great Salt Lake (Utah), Puget Sound and the Snake River (Washington), Everglades National Park (Florida), Lake Superior- Isle Royale (Michigan), the Slate Islands (Ontario) and Yellowstone Lake (Idaho).

John has been a long-time instructor and guide for CanoeSport Outfitters. He’s guided Lake Red Rock Eco Tours and basic tours, our Everglades Eco Tours, and Apostle Islands Adventures. He began working toward an instructor certification through the British Canoe Union while working at CanoeSport and then earned an ACA Level 2 Kayaking Instructor Certification in 2011. In 2012 he acquired a Level 3 Kayaking Instructor Certification.

For many years John has been a regular speaker at our annual Iowa Paddle & Pedal Expo. Most people will also see him as a safety boater at many of our on-water events, such as Demofest every April.

John has led interpretive paddling trips to state nature preserves along several streams, including the Upper Iowa River, the Des Moines River, and the Winnebago River and has also participated in numerous Project AWARE clean-ups. In recent years he’s become interested in paddling on the Mississippi River, especially along the rugged bluffs bordering Iowa and Wisconsin. 

John has recently bought a drone that he has used to take some fantastic aerial photography! 


Riley Holmes

All around paddler and softball player

At the age of 3 months Riley became a regular at CanoeSport Outfitters beginning her career as the official CanoeSport merchandiser. For several years she insisted on everything being several feet above the floor. She emphatically showed her displeasure with anything different by pulling it down and rearranging it on the floor. Since then she’s cycled through a variety responsibilities in the store.

Riley went kayaking and Stand Up Paddling on the Georgia Coast in 2012 at the age of three. A few months after her fourth birthday she accompanied the CanoeSport crew on a four day, five night canoeing and primitive camping trip in the 10,000 Island area of the Everglades. She’s kayaked and stand up paddle boarded at Lake Ahquabi, Raccoon River Park, and several other central Iowa waterways. 

She’s been a helper for several years at numerous CanoeSport events. Recently she enjoys hanging out at the lake with her friends and soaking up the sun. When she's not on the water Riley plays on a softball league and goes to the races with friends. 

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