URI Watershed Watch director awarded national honor

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KINGSTON, R.I. – May 8, 2014 – Linda Green, director of the University of Rhode Island’s Watershed Watch program, has won the 2014 Elizabeth Fellows Award from the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. The West Kingston resident was recognized for leading the URI water quality monitoring program for 26 years and building it into one of the most respected statewide volunteer monitoring programs in the nation, as well as for her efforts to promote volunteer monitoring across the country.

The award was presented last week at the Water Quality Monitoring Council’s biennial conference in Cincinnati.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award, and accept it in honor of the many exceptional volunteer water quality monitoring programs across the country and their many, many dedicated volunteers,” said Green. “Without water there is no life; it’s as simple and complex and challenging as that.”

Established in 1988, Watershed Watch involves more than 400 volunteers conducting weekly monitoring of about 250 lakes, ponds and streams, salt ponds, bays and estuaries throughout Rhode Island.

According to Green, the volunteers play a critical role in helping scientists understand the effect that weather and land use have on water quality in the state. Equally important, they encourage local organizations to understand, protect and restore areas important to them.

Green is a founding member of the New England Monitoring Collaborative; a past officer of the North American Lake Management Society; a member of the editorial board of The Volunteer Monitor Newsletter; an appointed member of the Rhode Island Environmental Monitoring Collaborative; and the first volunteer monitoring representative appointed to the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. In 1994 she received the URI Cooperative Extension Educator of the Year Award, and in 1999 she was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s Merit Award, primarily for her efforts promoting volunteer monitoring. In 2007 she received awards from the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association and the Narrow River Preservation Association.

She has extended her reach far beyond Rhode Island by working with state and federal agencies to encourage the establishment of additional volunteer monitoring programs and promote the use of volunteer data. Over a period of 12 years, she led three successful U.S. Department of Agriculture projects focused on developing and implementing a comprehensive support network for volunteer monitoring initiatives. These projects have been critical to maintaining energy and focus for volunteer monitoring during an era of significant budgetary constraints.

The Elizabeth Fellows Award is named for a former director of the EPA’s Assessment and Watershed Protection Division, who dedicated her career to natural resources management, environmental protection, and public service.