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Meet a Baga: Scott Hamstra & Valerie Hein Hamstra

Posted by Valerie Hein-Hamstra on 2/1/2015 to Weird & Interesting Stuff

Scott Hamstra

Scott was hired in 1998 as a seasonal sales person. He is now one of the Sales Managers as well as a boat/hard-goods buyer. A long history of canoeing and other outdoor pursuits were what initially brought him into the store.


At Canoecopia, Scott’s priority is Customer Service/Vendor relations. Scott helps consumers with navigating the show and making selections on boats, gear, speakers to see, and much more. He also helps vendors with check in and logistics before and during the show. His favorite thing to do is help a customer find that perfect piece of gear for their next adventure. Scott has worked 16 Canoecopias so far, and the 2015 show will be number 17 for him.  His favorite part of Canoecopia is “the people: customers, vendors, friends, family, kids, staff … the people who participate in and plan the event are my favorite.”


On his’ days off, Scott enjoys fishing, hunting or foraging for edibles. When asked if he could paddle with anyone, past or present, he said … “I've always thought it would be cool to paddle a large war canoe on the west coast with a nation of Haida or Tlingit natives, and listen to them tell their historical narratives, visit their villages, see their artwork and woodcarvings, just be immersed in the culture for a day or more, that would be a dream come true.”




Valerie Hein Hamstra

Valerie was hired in February 2008. After graduating from UW-Platteville and the birth of her son, in late 2007, she moved to Madison to be closer to family. When ready to return to the workforce, she interviewed with Scott and Sasha for a seasonal sales position. It was her lifelong love of nature, canoeing and camping that drew her to work at Rutabaga, but it was her degree that helped her stay on after that first season back in 2008. Since then, she has assisted as a graphic artist and currently manages the Rutabaga and Canoecopia social media accounts.


At Canoecopia, Valerie assists with Customer Service and Staff/Vendor/Exhibitor Services. Before the show begins, she helps with onsite check-in of, staff, vendors, and exhibitors. As the show swings into motion, she helps ensure that each customer visiting Canoecopia is having the experience about which they dream. No question goes unanswered, no problem unsolved! The 2015 show will be her eighth Canoecopia. Her favorite part of the weekend is reuniting with her outdoor family. She also loves hearing stories from customers on how their lives have been impacted by the outdoors, Rutabaga and Canoecopia in such amazing ways.


On her days off, Valerie tries to spend as much time in nature as possible. She believes the world is her classroom and loves sharing knowledge with her son, whether on a hike through the local park or on a weekend cabin trip in the North Woods of Wisconsin. And, since she works in social media, chances are, you can find her posting about these adventures on her blog and other social media outlets. When asked if she could paddle with anyone past or present, she would choose her brother. They grew up paddling in the Kettle Morraine area, and since his passing, there’s no with which she’d rather go canoeing. Or these days, standup paddleboarding. He would have loved the sport!

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