River Voices: June 2020

Welcome to the June 2020 edition of River Voices, with a focus on what we’re seeing at Virtual River Rally so far, a brand new toolkit for aquatic litter removal, and River Network’s statement on Central Park racism.

River Rally participants sharing the movements and activities that inspire them.
River Rally participants sharing the movements and activities that inspire them.

Virtual River Rally: What We’re Seeing

Since last fall, the River Voices calendar has indicated “Rally Recap” for the June issue. Now that June is here, we could not have predicted we’d be in the middle of Week 3 of a virtual conference, but we are grateful to the over 500 registrants, presenters, sponsors, and other partners for their flexibility, patience, and willingness to jump into this with us. Our team is still facilitating live sessions, serving as tech support, and all-around ensuring Rally is up and running each day, but we’d like to share some of what we’ve been seeing and hearing. Below, find highlights of education, inspiration, and celebration. And, we hope you can join us for Thursday’s Awards Panel, streaming live on our Facebook page.



“I really enjoyed the kickoff earlier today, and I’m very happy with how our [virtual sponsor] booth turned out. Looking forward to the rest of the Rally – learning, connecting with new people, and having fun from here at home.”
-Rally sponsor and participant

“There are a number of individuals that I will follow up with to learn more. Thank you for the opportunity to learn and connect!”
-Rally participant

“This tool is exciting!”
-Rally participant during a preview of a new version of EPA’s How’s My Waterway tool, to be publicly released in June

“The structural history of racism and marginalization, income inequality, and environmental extraction has created disparities that amplify vulnerability to climate change for communities of color, immigrant communities, and low-income communities. Acknowledging and learning from that history and structurally redesigning our communities is central to climate resilience.”
-Rally participants sharing takeaways from breakout room discussions during “A Tale of Two Richmonds: Equity, Climate, and History.” Read more at the Urban Waters Learning Network blog.


“We are our own superman… in the spaces that we work in, superman isn’t coming so we have to be that.”
-Rally presenter Alicia Smith during “Mobilizing Communities in Land and Water Work”

“We are ‘communities with rivers’ – we always have been – but how can we become a ‘river community,’ where we place that at the center as our goal… and how can we bring people around that value to accomplish our goals in really unique and special ways?”
-Rally presenter Eileen Boekestein during “Connecting Rural Conservation to Urban Restoration”

“Just watched [the Farmers & Ranchers film night] with my daughter, and had some great conversations about what we were seeing. There are certainly disadvantages to a remote format, but the chance to watch these films with her was a big plus tonight. Thank you!
-Rally participant


“Congrats to all the [Urban Waters Learning Network] awardees. You inspire us to continue to keep pushing for public policy that is dignified, just, and in the best interest of the community.”
-Rally participant

“I’m excited to be at Rally! I’m in Minneapolis, and wouldn’t have been able to attend had it been live. As a virtual event, however, I’m all in! I’m so proud to see RN as an early innovator, trying out this platform rather than canceling Rally. Way to go!”
-Rally participant

Thank you River Rally for adapting and going virtual. I’m new to water activism and fell in love with the cause the minute I met the founder of Texas Health and Environment Alliance based out of Houston. I was looking forward to meeting all y’all in person to get high off your energy but this virtual experience is just as awesome. See you at the social hour on Thursday]!
-Rally participant


We are thrilled to release Waste in Our Waters: A Community Toolkit for Aquatic Litter Removal, produced with support from The Coca-Cola Foundation. This toolkit is available for free on our website and features a step-by-step guide for addressing litter in your community, before and after it reaches your local waterway.

Download the toolkit.

Funding Available: Community Watershed Science, Youth Education

Volunteers removing invasive species along the Chattooga River. Photo courtesy Chattooga Conservancy.

River Network is pleased to be offering two funding opportunities, both with deadlines approaching. Click the links below to learn more and apply.

Wild & Scenic Rivers Community Watershed Science Funding with NPS. Due 6/8/20.
Youth River Education, Recreation Program with NPS. Due 6/10/20.

River Network Statement on Central Park Racism

“[Recent events] highlight the systemic racism that pervades our society, and its direct impacts on the everyday lives of Black Americans. Black Americans frequently face racism in outdoor spaces, including around and on the rivers and waterways our network works diligently to protect and preserve. River Network believes all people have a right to clean and safe water, and the right to feel safe everywhere.”

As part of this network, you’ve seen first-hand our evolution and exploration of the intersection of water and equity in our efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive movement for our nation’s waters. We recognize that our own work on water equity is but one piece of a larger and unjust national puzzle and we are committed to a future that leaves no one behind.

Read our full statement and explore resources below to learn and take action.

What We’re Reading – EDI Resources

River Network staff has been reading and sharing EDI resources relevant to the times we’re living in across topics such as white supremacy and racial equity; environmentalism, conservation, and race; organizational EDI; becoming an ally; and more. We invite all to explore these resources on our new EDI Resources for Nonprofits page and please let us know if you or your organization has additional resources you’d like us to include.

2020 Award Recipients

This year, you don’t have to be at Rally, or even registered, to join us for our annual awards celebration. On Thursday, June 4, at 8pm ET, we’ll be streaming our awards panel live on our Facebook page. This celebration is always the highlight of Rally and this year will be no exception. Tune in for words of inspiration from this year’s awardees: River Heroes Catherine Flowers, Amanda Pitzer, and Maya van Rossum; Compton Award recipient Daryl Vigil; and 2020 Emerging Leader Megan Nguyen. Bring your questions and a beverage of your choosing to toast these inspirational leaders.

Follow River Network and tune in Thursday evening!


The Virtual River Rally platform will remain open through Friday August 14, 2020 – and now premium members receive full access! If you’re already a member, look for more information hitting your inbox soon. Not a premium member? Join or renew today for full access to this year’s Rally content, a 40% discount on River Rally 2021 registration, free event and job postings on our website, and access to funding through the Business for Water Stewardship Bank. If you’re already registered for Virtual Rally, your access will not be affected, whether you’re a premium member or not. Email membership@rivernetwork.org with questions.

Explore premium membership.

Events & Learning Opportunities

Updates from NRCS and the Northeast – Partnering to Protect Drinking Water

Thursday 6/4/2020; 1-2:30p ET
Join the national Source Water Collaborative to hear from NRCS, American Water Works Association, and EPA staff on a variety of programs around source water protections, Farm Bill funding, and working with states, water utilities, conservation districts, and more.

Learn more and register.

World Environment Day (WED) – Get Involved Throughout June

Friday 6/5/2020
WED encourages raising awareness and taking action to protect the environment. Starting 6/15, if you live in Phoenix, AZ, Ft. Atkinson, WI, Findlay, OH, or Williamsburg, VA, you can take action by participating in the Ball Corporation’s virtual #MasksOnLitterGone campaign, or check out the Litterati app for ways to start a virtual litter pick-up and recycling event in your community.

Virtual River Rally – Two Additional Months of Learning & Interaction!

6/8/2020 – 8/14/2020
Our Rally platform will remain open for registrants and premium RN members through Friday August 14, 2020. Spend the summer learning from over 100 hours of recorded Rally content and connecting with other water leaders in the Meet Your Network chat lounges.

Become a premium member.

Making Sense of Social Media Analytics

Thursday 6/18/2020, 1-2p ET
Between Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter analytics – there are a lot of numbers being thrown at you! But what does it all mean? How does “engagement” rate compare to “impressions”? And what’s the most important data to be tracking? CDRW will cover the basics and answer your questions on this free webinar.

Learn more and register.

Member News and Tips

TAKE ACTION: We are told the #1 way to protect ourselves during the COVID-19 crisis is to frequently wash our hands, but what if you don’t have running water in your house? Please take action today and ask your governor to mandate all water providers stop water shut-offs immediately and restore service to homes where water service has been shut-off (or thank your governor if they have already done so!). Act now.

Quadratec Cares Funding Available

Quadratec is offering two $3,500 environmental grants per year (spring and fall) to an individual or group currently pursuing a program or initiative designed to benefit the environment with examples including trail building or restoration projects, litter prevention initiatives, sustainable land management activities, and youth engagement.

Learn more. Deadline 6/30.

Needmor Fund Invites Apps from Midwest Groups

Needmor is inviting applications for its Grassroots Community Organizing Grants. The program provides general operating support for community organizations in an eight-state region that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Learn more. Deadline 6/30.

Social Change Grants from Resist

Resist welcomes applications from grassroots organizations led by those most impacted by intersecting systems of oppression working to advance justice and liberation. Two types of grants up to $4,000 are available: General Support and Accessibility (interpretation services, wheelchair ramps, childcare, etc.).

Learn more. Next deadline 9/4.