New golf course employee floats into new community through unique parks event

Jackie Halloran believes in having fun with life.

As the new sales and marketing manager at Shiloh Springs Golf Club, she’s off to a good start with her recent participation in the Missouri River float trip the Platte County Parks and Recreation Department hosted earlier this month. Halloran got the job with KemperSports at Shiloh not long after she’d signed up for the excursion. 

KemperSports is the management firm Platte County hired last year to take over day-to-day operations at the county-owned course.

“When I found out they were providing free bus service for the trip I just said ‘I’m there,” Halloran said. “Then, when I got word that I got the job, I thought what a good way to meet people. It’s a great way to show that they’re getting somebody who wants to get out and promote the course and also get involved in the community.”

Originally from the St. Louis area, Halloran said she’s a longtime outdoor enthusiast, environmentalist and conservationist. While living in St. Louis, she and her Kansas City-area family used to meet up in the Ozarks to enjoy the rivers and lakes. She’s called the Northland home for many years now, however, as a graduate of Oak Park High School in Kansas City.

The Sept. 10 Missouri River event kicked off on the Platte River at Schimmel City boat ramp in Farley, Mo.

Participants traveled 15 miles by water, floating into the Missouri River and finishing off at Platte Landing Park in Parkville. Although the event has traditionally seen mostly canoes and kayaks, Halloran participated using a new method that’s been growing in popularity — stand-up paddle boarding. 

“Paddle sports are becoming more popular and accessible,” said interim Platte County parks director Noel Challis. “It was fun to have a paddle boarder as one of the participants.”

Originating in Hawaii, paddle boarding is related to surfing. 

Boarders stand on a modified surf board and use a long paddle to propel themselves in both flat and white water. In 2013, the Outdoor Industry Association ranked paddle boarding as the outdoor activity with the most first-time participants in the country.

Coincidentally, 2013 is when Halloran first saw a stand-up paddle board on television.

Immediately interested, she didn’t act on that interest until she saw a man using a paddle board on Lake Waukomis in southern Platte County. 

After watching him for a while, he asked if she wanted to give the board a spin.

“I said, ‘Heck yeah!” Halloran said. 

After that, Halloran became hooked and started looking for her own paddle board. “Obviously, we’re kind of landlocked here and this is something fairly new even on the coasts, let alone in the Midwest.”

After finally purchasing a board and getting her sea legs, Halloran started participating in river floats and located a paddling club in Shawnee Mission, Kan. She’s done more than a dozen float trips and races, including Race for the River, which promotes clean water education and restoration on the Missouri River.

Though she’s now had years of experience paddling on the Missouri River, the Platte River was on a whole new level. Halloran said she couldn’t get off that river fast enough because of a fish — the Asian carp, an invasive, non-native species that flourish in the Missouri River. The carp can travel up into the Platte but find the shallower water less to their liking and jump, earning them their nickname of flying fish. They’ve been known to jump into boats and can strike anglers and paddlers.

“I was standing up, so I had more of a vantage point to look down the river and see them jumping all over,” Halloran said. “I just thought that was the last thing I needed was to get hit by a fish and knocked into the river. I had one of them fly up right by my eyeballs.”

The fight through the flying fish infested waters of the Platte and onto the swirling Missouri was worth it, she said, when Parkville came into view. 

“You can see Park University up on the hill and it looks like a castle,” she said. “It’s nice to see the city from that perspective.” 

Although the Platte and Missouri rivers proved challenging, Halloran recently had the opportunity to paddle board on the Gulf of Mexico off Galveston, Texas. 

“The ocean is a whole different animal,” she said. “I have great respect for those people who paddle on the ocean.”

The experience didn’t scare her off, however. She said she hopes to someday travel to Portugal or Thailand and find a calm bay to practice her ocean-going skills. 

“I just want to go somewhere totally beautiful,” Halloran said. 

Halloran is also planning a Mississippi River paddling trip in the near future and has even gotten her 13-year-old daughter into the hobby. The two recently set a race record by tandem paddling on one board.

“It takes a whole lot of balancing for both of us to try to stand up and paddle and not fall in,” Halloran said. 

Halloran is an advocate of the health of the rivers where she floats, and now she’s turning that dedication to Shiloh Springs Golf Club. 

“I want to make people aware of what’s really there and build community ties,” she said. 

To that end, Halloran has organized a showcase event for the clubhouse from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 in collaboration with the Platte City Area Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s monthly business after hours event will feature the golf club with tours, light appetizers and drink specials as well as a putting contest. 

“A lot of people don’t realize what’s right here and available,” she said, noting that the recent remodeling of the clubhouse didn’t receive much attention. “It’s a great place for weddings, meetings, parties — all kinds of events.”