Meet the Council
Conni Castille grew up in rural Breaux Bridge, La., next door to her great-grandfather’s farm. Riding her bike into town as often as she could, she and her friends would plunge into Bayou Teche for a swim. Today, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, and a Master’s Degree in Folklore from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she currently teaches film. Over the past few years, she has directed several award-winning documentaries on Cajun and Creole culture. Her interest in Bayou Teche stems from her passion for history and culture and paddling.
Erin Bass is not a Council member, but serves as The TECHE Project’s Administrator and is an essential part of The TECHE Project Team. Erin is no stranger to the Bayou Teche. She got married along the bayou in Arnaudville and has family living along the bayou in New Iberia. She has covered the Teche through her work with Discover Iberia magazine and the Louisiana Tour Guide. As Administrator of The TECHE Project, Erin utilizes her communication, marketing and public relations skills to handle membership, the Annual Report and Annual Banquet, in addition to day to day administrative duties. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Louisiana State University and has spent the past 18 years working as a writer and editor on newspapers and magazines. Erin ’s background and expertise in journalism and marketing is an asset in promoting the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail to attract more paddlers.
Jimmy Gravois is owner of Metal Shark, LLC, a leading supplier of welded aluminum boats for commercial, defense and law enforcement applications worldwide. The company traces its origins to 1986, when Jeanerette, La.-based Gravois Aluminum Boats began producing custom welded aluminum fishing boats for recreational anglers and commercial fishermen. Over the years, the Gravois family developed a loyal following among demanding Gulf Coast fishermen due to the rugged quality of their boats, which were often highly customized to suit the buyer’s needs. Growing up in Jeanerette, Jimmy has an intimate history with the Teche.
Patti Holland is a resident of Arnaudville, LA. She is a wildlife biologist by training and had a career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Because of her ecological background, Patti is involved in the water quality and ecological education programs including the wood duck management and bank-line restoration workshops. Patti also puts on the “Shake Your Trail Feather” annual festival, which raises funds for the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail. She shares the excitement of fellow TECHE Project members and volunteers in promoting the paddle trail, and she especially enjoys birding by kayak on quiet mornings floating down the Teche.
Eric Martin has been working in state and local government relations for 25 years. At the age of 26, he was elected as mayor in St. Martinville, La. He won multiple state and federal awards as mayor. Eric also represented 50 cities as a director on the LA Municipal Association Board. For the last 7 years, he has been working for Pfizer’s State Government Relations division as an Alliance Development Manager covering the states of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Brent Miller and his family live on Bayou Teche and enjoy many outdoor recreation activities in their kayaks, such as fishing, duck hunting, mushrooming and bird watching. Brent and his children also participate in conservation efforts along Bayou Teche, promoting ecology, water quality testing and the use of wood duck nest boxes. With also being on the school board for St. Bernard School, Brent has begun the first school paddle club in Acadiana that competes in the Petite Tour du Teche and is encouraging other schools to follow suit to promote more outdoor water recreation along our historic waterways. His other responsibilities include the implementation and grant execution of the Breaux Bridge Trailhead for the Bayou Teche Paddle Trail and the Atakapa-Ishak biking/running trail.
Trey Snyder is a Certified Public Accountant who lives on Bayou Teche. Trey began working with The TECHE Project in 2010 by getting involved in bayou cleanup activities. He became a TECHE Council member later that same year. He is also a race director for Tour du Teche, and as such he is able to coordinate strategies and activities between Tour du Teche and The TECHE Project. Trey is responsible for Bayou Teche Paddle Trail activities for The TECHE Project that include developing and monitoring a plan to get Bayou Teche listed as a National Water Trail by the National Parks Service and working with partners to expand bayou access to paddlers.
Born on the banks of the Bayou Teche, Dane Thibodeaux, a resident of Breaux Bridge, has brown water running through his veins. Dane is a Social Studies teacher and environmental awareness sponsor at Cecilia High School, encouraging his students to be environmentally responsible by starting a school-wide recycling program. With his wife Jill and two children, Lucas and Emile, he enjoys paddling and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Dane joined The TECHE Project Council as Bayou Operations Coordinator in the fall of 2013 and is tasked with coordinating our semi-annual Trash Bash and Boogie with local government, businesses and volunteers.