A blog post Executive Director John Searby

One evening after a recent rain, my wife and I paddled up the South Fork of the Catawba River as the air was warming up with humidity and the cool water ran through the river. As we paddled into the sunset in the photo above, a fog settled onto the river and we were enveloped by it. As the evening cooled and a breeze blew through, the fog lifted and faded away.

As we paddled home that night, I couldn’t help but think about the experience as a metaphor for what our country and our organization has been through over the past 14 weeks with the COVID-19 pandemic and all of its related challenges. It seemed as those we went into a functional “fog” and as time has continued on and we’ve adjusted to the requirements needed to operate, that fog begins to lift and clear our view to what is ahead.

For the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, like many small businesses and non-profits, the stay-at-home orders were a scary time. We were fortunate to receive a PPP loan, which has allowed us to keep our entire staff employed throughout this trying time. We were disappointed to cancel our largest event of the year, RiverFest, and we missed seeing students at our spring field trips.

As we waded through the fog and begin to find our way, our staff has done a remarkable job of not only being flexible, but innovating new ways to share our work, engage our community, and educate our friends and neighbors. A few examples of this include:

Educational Opportunities

Engagement Opportunities

Protecting our Water and Our Communities

Throughout this entire time, we’ve continued to execute sampling programs, ongoing research projects, and lab testing to ensure that as the opportunity for public meetings and public comments resumes that we are ready to act on behalf of our water and our citizens.

I very much appreciate those members who have renewed their memberships or made special donations to us during this uncertain time. I also want to thank our corporate partners who have moved their contribution date up to help keep us operating. Your generosity and commitment to our mission have put us in a place that allows us to resume operations as close to “normal” as possible as the re-openings begin and we ease our way out of the fog. While our offices are open again, we are all wearing masks and limiting our meetings indoors. You might see us having a staff meeting in a park or on a greenway; if so, stop by and say hello! We hope to see you out in the community or on the water again soon and encourage you to get out and enjoy the water with your family or join us for one of our safe socially distant group paddles this summer. If you are looking for ways to get involved, I would encourage you to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to keep up with the ever shifting events.

As the fog continues to clear, remember that the fight for clean water never takes a break. We are committed to continuing to be YOUR local, on the water advocate for clean and plentiful water for generations to come.


John Searby
Executive Director