A letter from Executive Director John Searby
Friends and Members of Catawba Riverkeeper,
I am so thankful and grateful to lead the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. I just completed my first year as your Executive Director so I thought I’d share My View from the River as we navigate our organization through this strange and challenging time in our nation’s history.
The past year has been one of highs and lows. Some of you know that our offices flooded last spring during the stretch of major rainstorms we had in late May/early June. Our staff was relocated to temporary offices for almost 12 weeks and many of our programs had to be adjusted and adapted on the fly. Little did we know that was going to be great preparation for this spring as we once again had to vacate our offices and work remotely; this time for the stay-at-home orders from the Covid-19 outbreak.
For the past four and half weeks our staff has been working from home, conducting online staff meetings, and learning new ways to connect just like many of you are in your businesses. We are fortunate that our testing and sampling in the field can continue with adjustments to our lab use procedures. Our important research and advocacy for your water can continue as well albeit it with some adjustments. I have been proud of our Riverkeeper, Brandon Jones, and Technical Manager, Claire Atkins-Davis for their continued efforts to monitor your waters, respond to pollution reports, and keep our protection efforts moving forward. We also continue to manage the Litter Gitter program and remove the trash they are collecting in our urban creeks.
Our biggest adjustment has been to our events and programming. Our annual celebration of the Catawba River, RiverFest, will not be able to take place on May 9th, but we hope to be able to reschedule that for later in the year. Our spring EcoTours have had some disruption as well, but to give you your on the water fix, we’ve started a new Facebook video series called “On the Water with Wayne” where our Engagement Coordinator, Wayne Moyers, takes you out to a different access point each week and shows you some features of that stretch of water.
On the Education front, our Program Director, Haley Tedder, is busier than ever shooting collaborative videos with friends like She Built This City building wood duck boxes and reading a children’s book on Facebook each week that features the ecosystem of our river basin. We continue to prepare for our summer camps and are hopeful we can pull those off and we are preparing for our late summer pop-up lessons that we can take on the road to other camps, day cares, and groups of students.
I want to encourage you to continue to stay involved in protecting your water! You can take a trash bag on your family walk and pick up litter to keep it out of our creeks and streams. You can learn about your environment in fun and interesting ways through all of the activities we are posting on Facebook. Or, you can actively participate in helping us monitor the water through being a volunteer boat captain for our Swim Guide program. And, your financial support for Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is ALWAYS appreciated. Renewing your membership or donating today will help us continue our important work even while we are without the event and program revenue that is so important to us this time of year.
My View from the River is a beautiful view right now because of the hard work that your Riverkeeper staff, board, and volunteers are continuing to put in to preserve and protect our river for generations to come. I am thankful for the highs and the lows of the past year and I am so excited about what the next year has in store for our organization. I hope you’ll join us today on that journey.