Some might say a career on the water telling Buffalo's history was foretold in the tealeaves for lifelong Western New York resident Beth Bragg, as her McFarland family had many generations of New England sailors and the Bragg side of her family arrived in the area by way of the Erie Canal in the 1830s, settling in the Town of Aurora. Also Beth has had ancestors in Erie County for two centuries – her fifth great-grandfather, George Southwick, was one of the first settlers of North Collins back in 1811.
Beth has been a Buffalo resident for 20 years but coming back to the water full-time was a few decades in the making. She spent more than 20 years in information technology and data management – most recently as a project manager for data warehouse projects – before establishing Elevator Alley Kayak. Beth has a bachelor’s degree in forest resources management from SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Buffalo State College, and an MBA from UB.
In her free time, she enjoys being a volunteer Explore Buffalo docent, researching Western & Central New York history as well as genealogy, nature and architecture photography, reading, running & hiking, and of course, kayaking.
South Buffalo native Jason Mendola discovered kayaking while exploring Guatemala. And following a career in broadcasting covering sports for Adelphia, Time Warner and Spectrum, he ventured on a new professional path, managing the kayak rentals at Canalside. This experience encouraged him to paddle out on his own with Elevator Alley Kayak.
Jason has always held a special affinity for the industrial areas surrounding the Old First Ward, remembering riding his bike along the train tracks as a youth. Being able to combine a passion for kayaking around the corner from the tracks he grew up on has been perfect fit.
He and his wife, Abbi, are proud parents of 6-month-old Alessandra and their Jack Russell, Lucy. When Jason’s not paddling through the grain elevators, the Buffalo State College graduate and his family enjoy traveling. In addition to Guatemala, he’s been to Honduras, Belize, Nicaragua and Mexico (and Jason and Abbi got married in Costa Rica). He has also traveled across country several times and did many adventure tours/excursions, which helped him prepare for his current role at EAK.
Jason is an American Canoe Association-certified paddlesports instructor.