Catawba Riverkeeper staff poses with the cake at the 2nd Annual Thanks-for-Giving event on 11/8/17.

On a cold, rainy Wednesday night, dozens of Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (CRF) volunteers gathered at Triple C Brewing Co. for the 2nd annual Thanks-for-Giving event.

In 2017, our volunteers took 73,580 pounds of trash out of the Catawba River. We had Riversweeps on Lake Wateree, Lake Wylie, Rocky Creek Lake, Fishing Creek Lake, Lake Norman, Mountain Island Lake, and Lake Hickory, as well as several creeks in the Charlotte area. We had a total of 1,218 volunteers at the Riversweeps this year. Amazing!

We had volunteers represent CRF at events all around our basin, educating the public about who we are and what we do. We had volunteers educate students in classrooms in South Carolina, as well as with our summer CREEK Program. In order to prepare for our CREEK program, volunteers scrubbed our kayaks of the winter grime, and moved them from Tailrace Marina to Landsford Canal State Park and back.

Our volunteers help with mailings, deliver and pick-up supplies for River Week, show up in incredible numbers to festivals and parties so that we are able to have successful events. We are humbled by the generosity and endurance of our volunteers every day, and we hope we were able to show our appreciation last night!

At the event, CRF recognized all 2017 volunteers and presented three awards.

Outstanding New Volunteer – Mike Vaughn

Community Partner of the Year – SouthWings

Alice Battle Volunteer of the Year – Connie Miller

Mike Vaughn of Great Falls, SC, has organized and led three cleanups of the Rocky Creek Lake/Cedar Creek Lake/Stumpy Pond since November 2016. Because of Mike’s leadership, 31,700 pounds of trash were removed from the lake in the last year. Not only did Mike plan the cleanups and recruit volunteers, he also secured funding for the cleanups and after parties.

SouthWings was recognized as our Community Partner of the Year for their invaluable service to CRF’s monitoring program. Volunteer pilots fly Riverkeeper Sam Perkins over the Catawba-Wateree River basin to check on pollution issues like CAFO waste, sedimentation, and coal ash cleanup. Aerial perspectives are crucial to CRF’s ability to identify and understand pollution, especially in the mountains and rolling hills of the Piedmont.

Connie Miller was named the Alice Battle* Volunteer of the Year. Connie has been involved with Catawba Riverkeeper as a member and volunteer for more than a decade. She’s a Lake Wylie Covekeeper and serves on the Lake Wylie Riversweep Planning Committee. Over the years, she’s done so much for Lake Wylie and the Catawba Riverkeeeper Foundation. From reporting pollution to managing an email communications system to digitizing old newspaper articles from the early years of CRF, Connie is always willing to lend a hand.

*The late Alice Battle was a dedicated volunteer whose commitment to the Catawba River was unwavering. As Mountain Island Lakekeeper, she fought for clean water for all those who depend on it.

Mike Vaughn (middle) with Riverkeeper Sam Perkins and Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator Hillary Zorman
SouthWings representatives Amanda Wheelock (left), Adel Alamo, and SouthWings Pilot Peter S. with Sam Perkins
Sam Perkins and Hillary Zorman with Volunteer of the Year Connie Miller (center)

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