As the year comes to an end, we tend to reflect on all that has happened in the past 12 months. For us at Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper (LPOW), what really stood out was how supportive our community has been throughout the entire year. LPOW is a small nonprofit organization and without the help and encouragement from our fellow lake lovers we could not do the work that we do.
This year was the 10th year of our Water Quality Monitoring Program (WQMP). For a decade, volunteer citizen scientists have helped us develop a robust and reliable set of data. Our data has been used to evaluate the health of our precious waterways and determine the steps necessary to best protect it. For example, state and local agencies are able to utilize this data to help identify potential issues and keep Lake Pend Oreille clean for years to come. Without the dozens of volunteers who have worked with us over the years, this program would not be possible.
Our annual Earth Day Cleanup is our largest volunteer event of the year. This year, we decided to expand this event and partnered with local businesses and organizations in order to host 4 private cleanups and 2 public cleanups around our shoreline. During these 6 events, over 250 volunteers showed up to remove 1,500lb of trash from around Lake Pend Oreille, Sand Creek, and the Pack River. This is the most trash we’ve ever picked up in a single year! Outside of these events, community members have been picking up trash on their own time – showing their appreciation of our lake and doing their part to take care of it. Our cleanup events have truly made a difference and hopefully will continue to inspire fellow community members to take action in order to protect our lake – and show others just how easy it is to do!
Over the summer, we had two local ladies volunteer with us to help around the office and learn about what we do. Lily Simko and Niah Brass dedicated hours of their summer to our organization before returning to Montana for college. I loved getting to know these two while talking about my own experiences and how I got into my field. Lily helped me prepare supplies for WQMP volunteers and assisted at educational events, such as Waterkeeper Wednesdays, when she had the time. Niah already had data entry experience and was able to jump right in to uploading our WQMP data into our database. I am so grateful for the time these two wonderful women spent helping me out and I’m excited to see where they go in their careers!
LPOW board and staff cannot say thank you enough to all of the incredible individuals who have volunteered for our organization. Thank you for your time, your dedication, your inspiration, and your commitment to keeping Lake Pend Oreille swimmable, fishable, and drinkable for future generations. The work we do depends on our volunteers’ kindness, knowledge, and compassion for clean water. YOU are the reason Lake Pend Oreille endures as the sparkling gem of north Idaho and the heartbeat of our community.