If you wanted to revel in all the good things happening on the Shiawassee River, the place to be was the Wrought Iron Grill in Owosso this past Tuesday night. The Friends welcomed new staff and board member, celebrated exceptional volunteers and their 20 year history of Caring, Sharing and Enjoying the Shiawassee River.
The Friends welcomed Lance Omer to the board and introduced Lauri Elbing, our new executive director, and Sarah Baker, our new Stream Team Coordinator, to the membership. We also welcomed Tiffany Cooper, a digital media design intern from Baker College. The Friends are building the necessary capacity to strengthen and expand the reach of the programs and the mission that has guided us for these past 20 years.
Two board members stepped down, but pledged to stay involved with the Friends: Larry Johnson of Owosso and Nancy Krause of Chesaning. For each of us it is a labor of love, and we are grateful for their dedication and service to the Friends and to our watershed.
Five volunteers were honored for all their time, talent and treasure each donated to support the Friends’ activities as well as the heath and enjoyment of our Shiawassee River: Mayor Chuck and Donna Kerridge, Dianne King, Anita Moliterno, and Bob Dumond. The Friends also thanked Mike Schomber,the hunter who spotted the Thanksgiving Day oils spill in the county drain and for quickly reporting it before it reached the Shiawassee River.
Barbara Nelson-Jameson of the National Park Service, the keynote speaker, engaged an overflowing crowd to think big. She congratulated the Friends and the other groups for the years of hard work already invested to that gained our own Shiawassee River the distinction of being voted into the top 11 rivers to kayak or canoe in Michigan. She then challenged everyone to think about the benefits and requirements of achieving the National Water Trail designation for our Shiawassee River.
The Friends of the Shiawassee River efforts to meet the critical challenges facing our watershed today depend almost solely on the volunteerism and financial support of our donors. Members, sponsors and volunteers help the Friends achieve lasting results for water quality, wildlife habitat and quality of life in our communities.
Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers, donors, funders and supporters who have stood with the Friends and made the health and enjoyment of our Shiawassee River a priority over the last 20 years.