All too frequently, the individuals and groups working toward healthy, resilient rivers; safe, affordable drinking water; and climate-resilient communities aren’t celebrated in the moment. The essential work, whether a marathon or a sprint, is often overshadowed by the long road ahead. River Network’s awards, presented at River Rally, are designed to recognize that, while another challenge might be right around the corner, there is great progress happening by champions across the network, and this progress deserves our appreciation and celebration. 

Learn more about the River Hero Award, the Emerging Leader Award, and the Legacy Award. 

Seven awardees standing in a line the River Rally stage. Awardees are, from left to right, Arthur Johnson, Betsy Otto, Christina McVie, Mariah Davis, Melanie Ariens, Ann-Marie Mitroff, and Trey Sherard.

The River Hero Award recognizes and showcases the achievements of individuals and teams who have advanced the movement toward a future of healthy rivers, safe and affordable drinking water, or climate-resilient communities. Their work expands the network’s collective power and activates others in the water sector to advance equitable policies and practices.  

More about the River Hero Award >

Betsy Otto (she/her) standing in front of the podium on the River Rally stage holding her Legacy award.

In 2022, the River Network Board of Directors created the Legacy Award to recognize significant achievement to the river and water arena. Recipients have contributed to expand thinking about river, water, and solutions that stick.

More about the Legacy Award >

Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Leader Award at River Rally, established in 2019 by former board member Leslie Lowe, recognizes a burgeoning leader working at the intersection of water and justice. This award provides early career recognition to expand their aspirations, gain confidence, and widen their network. 

More about the Emerging Leader Award >

Mariah Davis (she/her) standing in front of the podium on the River Rally stage holding her Emerging Leader award.

Awarded from 2001 through 2021, this award recognized an exceptional individual whose impact on the health of our country’s waters is as deep and abiding as James ‘Jim’ Compton, for whom this award was named.

More about the Compton Award >