All too frequently, individuals and groups involved with natural resource conservation fail to celebrate their hard-won successes. Too often, important victories are allowed to be overshadowed by the next issue or threat. Challenges always lie ahead, but we need to take time each year to celebrate our achievements and the people who make them possible.

Stream the 2021 Awards Panel on Facebook.


River Heroes are individuals who bring people together to solve water problems, seek solutions that are inclusive and equitable, go “above & beyond,” never give up, and inspire and help others to make a difference.

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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.

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Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Leader Award recognizes a young professional working at the intersection of water and justice. The award was created in 2019 in honor of Leslie Lowe, whose bold encouragement pushed River Network to look deeper into specific geographies and issues where inequality persists and take action toward inclusive solutions.

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Headshot of Mariah Davis, with trees in the background

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.

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