River Voices: May 2020

Welcome to the May 2020 edition of River Voices. We hope you’re staying healthy – both physically and mentally. This month, learn how we’re adapting our river cleanup events for physical distancing, hear from RN President Nicole Silk on how Virtual River Rally will bring hope to the network, find resources for Mental Health Month, and more.

Photo by People of the Platte
Photo by People of the Platte

Spring is our, and likely your, busiest time of year for outdoor clean-up events, bringing hundreds of people together in various states. This year, however, COVID-19 has brought social distancing measures to every state in the country and we’re all exploring new and unique ways to continue engaging with our communities and ourselves, right in our own backyards. Hear from River Network’s Community Engagement Manager, Karla Noboa, on how we’re bringing conservation practices like litter removal into the network’s everyday lives and routines.

Read more.

Support a Strong Network for #GivingTuesdayNow!

A truly global threat like COVID-19 presents an opportunity to come together as a global community. River Network is proudly participating in #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5 (that’s today!) to continue to provide resources for local water protectors working tirelessly for rivers and other waters in communities across the country.

We believe everyone should have access to affordable, clean water and healthy rivers. You can help River Network increase the power of our network and build a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive water future by supporting us with a donation. Will you stand with us today?

Already donated? Thank you! Your gift is allowing us to mobilize and respond quickly in the midst of this crisis. Head to our Facebook page and share our posts with your network today. Questions about giving? Contact Lisa Runkel, our Philanthropy Manager, or call 720.504.0118.

Coming Soon: New Aquatic Litter Resource


Later this month, we are pleased to release a new resource! Waste in Our Waters: A Community Toolkit for Aquatic Litter Removal will be available for free, full of strategies, activities, and info on specific devices to help address aquatic litter in your community.

Stay tuned!


Join us for Virtual River Rally! This year, our program includes a Water Infrastructure workshop track. Learn from groups like Clean Water Action, NACWA, Corazón Latino and more on topics like drinking water, utilities and water resilience, and addressing lead.

Explore the virtual program and register.


Meet Lisa Runkel, River Network’s new Philanthropy Manager. Lisa is a Minnesota native and as her non-profit career evolved, it has provided her the opportunity to understand, and then fight for, the needs of the environment and the people who depend on it.

Learn more about Lisa’s work.

Virtual River Rally: Hope in Times of Uncertainty

“By bringing River Rally to you virtually, we want to bring hope forward, leaving you and our community recharged and inspired, too. We need each other at this time of unprecedented change, in part so we can reimagine our path forward.” River Network President Nicole Silk reflects on transitioning River Rally to a virtual experience and what you can expect from this new approach.

Read more.


A new story map from the Urban Waters Learning Network (UWLN) highlights three unique water quality projects by Groundwork Denver, Heal the Bay, and NY/NJ Baykeeper. All three organizations are working toward healthier environments for underserved communities living in and around their urban waterways. From a new microplastics study to a Water Quality Assessment Tool and River Report Card, learn how these local groups are making change and raising awareness for disposal, recreation, and general river health.

Explor the story map.


Amanda Pitzer, a 2020 River Hero, is executive director of Friends of the Cheat. She is a tenacious and dedicated educator and water advocate, having initiated many programs that earned her recognition in West Virginia. In her 10-year tenure at Friends of the Cheat, she has successfully constructed nine treatment projects to combat acid mine drainage, secured the preservation of 3,800 acres of the Cheat River Canyon, and established the Upper Cheat Water Trail with nine public access sites. Amanda will be celebrated at Virtual River Rally!

Meet Amanda.

Events & Learning Opportunities

Water Is Life – Weekly Webinar Series

Tuesday 5/5, 12, 19, & 26, 12p CT
Alabama Rivers Alliance invites you to join them for a virtual get-together…with a purpose! They’ll be highlighting the role that water plays in lives throughout Alabama and sharing how you can participate in the efforts to protect water, even in this new “normal.” Hear from their partners across the state, and leading experts in water protection.

Register here.

Cyber-Security During COVID-19

Wednesday 5/13/2020
Join River Network staff as we host Tim Walters, Director of Sales and Operations, and Trevor Pyle, Lead Cybersecurity Analyst for Sabre on Point, to learn cybersecurity best practices specific to non-profits and what you can do remotely to ensure your organization is taking the right steps to protect against today’s growing cyber threats.

Learn more and register.

Global Swimways Webinar Marathon

Thursday 5/14/2020
In honor of World Fish Migration Day, World Fish Migration Foundation is hosting a special 24-hour webinar marathon! In this webinar, leaders will tell us about global swimways, fish species population status, and trends. Join to connect and share inspiring knowledge about rivers, migratory fish, river connectivity, and smart solutions to bend the curve.

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.

Teach the Great Lakes

Hannah Mico, River Network’s Community Organizing Associate recommends this monthly podcast in which Stuart Carlton (a native New Orleanian) asks smart people to teach him about the Great Lakes. It’s co-hosted by the staff at Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and rich with information.

Learn more.

Ellen Gilinsky on Resources Radio

Hear River Network board member, Ellen Gilinsky, on Resources for the Future’s “Resources Radio” discussing how ambiguities in the characterization of WOTUS under the Clean Water Act have prompted persistent debates about how the law should be implemented and what’s covered.

Listen here.

Western Rivers Ecology and Geography

From Wild Rose Education, learn how to utilize rivers and riparian habitat as the context to meet the Colorado 2020 Science standards (NGSS) through observations, explorations, discussions, and journaling to create three-dimensional, phenomenon and problem-driven science learning experiences.

Learn more and sign up.

What We’re Reading – Mental Health Month Edition

May is Mental Health Month. Each Monday, check our social channels as we share resources for #MentalHealthMonday and explore the links below. While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health, especially in times of pandemic.

Mental Health AmericaMHA’s website features a variety of resources supporting its mission of promoting mental health and preventing mental illness through advocacy, education, research, and services.

“Pandemic Resources for Nonprofits” – River Network’s resource page includes sections on Stress & Anxiety and resources for extroverts.

“Working Together in Challenging Times: Sustaining Effectiveness and Well-Being” – This webinar from Training Resources for the Environmental Community (TREC) gathers and offers some ideas on working with uncertainty and stress, supporting our ability to focus and keep in touch with possibility as we move in our days, and enhancing our connection to each other and fostering a sense of community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Being near water can be healthy during the pandemic” – River Network board chair Rebecca Wodder and Melissa Diemand in Greater Greater Washington on the mental health benefits of being near the water and their favorite spots in the Washington, DC area.

“That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief” – Scott Berinato speaking to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the Harvard Business Review on the different types of grief COVID-19 is bringing up and thoughts on how to address the grief you may feel in your life.

How to Do Nothing – Jenny Odell’s 2019 book explores how to start paying a new kind of attention, which can help us  undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress. A timely read as COVID-19 has more folks turning to virtual connection.