Two Join HVA River Stewards
Click picture for larger version.
Housatonic Valley Association's River Stewards of Tomorrow program was
launched in in memory of Philip Crane Jones. The newest members are (from
left) Rebekah White and Neil Flahive with Barton and Debby Jones, Phillip
Wednesday, July 18, 2012 7:09 AM EDT
CORNWALL BRIDGE - Neil Flahive of Monroe and Rebekah White of Southbury
joined the Housatonic Valley Association as summer interns.
The River Stewards program connects future environmental professionals with
hands-on watershed and river conservation work.
Aspiring high school seniors and college-aged young adults obtain real-world
experience working side by side with HVA's professionals and volunteers.
The HVA River Stewards internship program is made possible by an annual
grant from the River Stewards of Tomorrow Fund.
This endowed fund was established in 2010 in memory of Philip Crane Jones, a
passionate, young river guide, fisherman and environmentalist.
The next generation of ecological leaders must be more passionate and better
equipped to face challenges unimagined a generation or two ago," said Lynn
Werner, the HVA executive director.
"The complexities of a changing climate and competing resources, and the
rapid increase in the number and diversity of stakeholders and
decision-makers, makes the protection of our air, land and water more
challenging, sophisticated and nuanced than ever.
It requires a solid understanding of how decisions are made on multiple
levels. This program offers a taste of that experience to aspiring
Mr. Flahive and Ms. White are working this summer in HVA's Cornwall Bridge
office with Meghan Ruta, HVA's Water Protection Manager.
Mr. Flahive will be a senior at the University of Connecticut next fall,
where he is studying natural resources and the environment.
He has been interested in the environment from an early age and is currently
active in a number of environmental clubs on campus including the American
Fisheries Society and the UConn Wildlife Society. He hopes to pursue a
career in fisheries or wildlife management.
Mr. Flahive will be assisting HVA staff this summer on a wide variety of
projects, including an exploration of expected climate change impacts to the
local fishery, developing a watershed profile of a nearby trout stream and
working with regional partners to determine the conservation potential of a
Ms. White attends Western Connecticut State University, majoring in biology
and ecology with a minor in chemistry. Her interest in the environment was
piqued by her involvement in Friends of the Lake, a local organization that
works to protect Lake Lillinonah.
An active member of the FOTL Water Quality Committee, Rebekah has assisted,
since 2010, with data collection related to a Fairfield University water
quality study of Lake Lillinonah, a major impoundment of the Housatonic
Ms. White has also participated in several Clean the Lake days and is
presently working to create a scholarship to support partnerships between
biology students and environmental organizations.
Ms. White will be reaching out to towns and regional organizations to
compile nutrient data and information related to the Housatonic River
Ms. White is going to help the HVA pull together the pieces so that a
serious look can be taken at how excess nutrients get into the river and how
we can better work with the state and our partners to correct the problem.
"In the short time that they've been with HVA, Neil and Rebekah have already
made such a positive mark on the staff here at HVA," Ms. Ruta said.
"It's wonderful to be able to have their perspectives at the office and to
be able to provide them with real-world opportunities that will give them
practical exposure to a range of environmental projects.
Their excitement and eagerness to learn is really inspiring. Their
enthusiasm for the environment is a great reminder for me of why the work we
do is so important."
Along with Ms. White and Mr. Flahive, two rising seniors at Housatonic
Valley Regional High School will also be volunteering with HVA this summer.
Brian Saccardi and Matt Matsudaira of Cornwall are members of the HVRHS
Envirothon team that recently won the state contest for the second year in a
Mr. Matsudaira has already assisted HVA staff with a project to assess the
ecological impact of road crossings over streams and to examine the
environmental condition of a local brook. Mr. Saccardi is expected to start
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