November 2016 Clean Water Champion: Emily Lord

This month’s Clean Water Champion is most definitely a champion and a super talented photographer and energetic steward of lands and waters! Emily Lord is the Stewardship Outreach Coordinator with UNH Cooperative Extension (UNHCE) and is a team member of UNHCE’s the Stewardship Network: New England initiative to mobilize volunteers to care for and study New Hampshire’s land and waters. Prior to joining UNHCE in late 2015, Emily was the Education Director for the NH Association of Conservation Commissions. Emily holds a Master’s degree in sociology and has a background in youth leadership and trails. She also serves on the Board of Directors for her local land trust, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways. PREP has had the pleasure of partnering with Emily and the other awesome staff from TSNNE on the two Great Bay Clean Up Events in June and September. Her photography and infectious energy has made the events a resounding success! We’re lucky to have such an awesome champion to partner with!

Emily and her buddy Solstice on the shores of Sunrise Lake near their home in Middleton, NH

PREP: How long have you been a champion for clean water?
Emily: For as long as I can remember! I grew up in Kennebunk and Kittery, Maine and some of my favorite childhood memories include playing in tidal pools at the beach or walking the nature trails at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. I became interested in helping the environment at a young age and remember talking to my family members about issues like recycling and littering. My high school art teacher, Marcia Abigail Ryder (1952 – 2008), had a huge influence on me and through many nature-inspired art projects she showed me how important it is to tell the story of our environment and local ecology in creative ways.

PREP: How’d you get started in protecting clean water/shorelands/coasts?
Emily: I went into college completely undecided on what kind of career I wanted, but soon discovered a passion for social issues and majored in sociology and women’s studies. Eventually, I found a way to merge my interests and pursued the field of environmental sociology, which looks at how society and culture are related to and grounded in our environment. As a graduate student at Illinois State University I had the opportunity work on an interdisciplinary watershed health research project where we looked at communities’ and individuals’ perceptions about and behaviors related to their watershed. Honestly, that was the first time I learned what the term “watershed” meant and how everything – from lawn care to septic systems and road placement to new developments – is connected to water quality downstream. I am still learning about new ways to study and protect our water resources!

PREP: What’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Emily: I love canoeing and just having fun in the water with my partner and our 2-year-old pup, Solstice. My partner grew up on Lake Huron and I remember the first time we went canoeing on Great Bay, he couldn’t believe the tides! It actually took both of us a while to figure out how to time our paddle so we wouldn’t get swept out with the tide!

PREP: What’s been your proudest moment as a clean water/climate/environmental Champion?
Emily: This year I joined the board of directors for my local land trust, Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, and feel so fortunate and proud that I get to help with the outreach for a new conservation action plan initiative for our region, which is mostly in northern Strafford County. I don’t think too many people know that our region covers part of the headwaters for the Piscataqua Region Watershed, which drains into our sensitive coastal estuaries. We have both the Salmon Falls River and the Cocheco River in our region. A strategic conservation plan will be so important in protecting our natural, recreational, and especially water resources as development pressure creeps further north in the coming years. I was SO proud that 50 community members came out to our first visioning session this fall to help create the plan. There was an entire break out group with an interest in water resources! The final plan won’t be ready until summer 2017, and we’ll be hosting a second visioning session, tentatively set for February 11th at the new Middleton Elementary School. If you live, work, or play in Brookfield, Farmington, Middleton, Milton, New Durham, Rochester, Wolfeboro, and Wakefield, check out!

PREP: What’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the Seacoast they love?
Emily: Join the Stewardship Network: New England, an initiative of UNH Cooperative Extension, to find out about nature-based volunteer opportunities from over 165 organizations who are working to care for and study our lands and waters. There’s something for everybody – from water quality monitoring to pulling invasive plant species, restoring trails to planting native plants for wildlife habitat – it’s fun to get outside, meet like-minded volunteers, and feel good about giving back to our environment!

Solstice showing off! 

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.