The Delaware River Means Photo Campaign’s Grand Finale: How Can You Stay Involved?
By Courtney Krier, Communications Intern, Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed
The Delaware River Watershed is an expansive area, tracing its borders around 12,800 square miles across four different states in the Northeast. It is an area as diverse in its fauna and flora as it is in its people and communities. With millions of different people living within the watershed, there is a multitude of backgrounds and perspectives and, more pointedly, endless opportunities for experiencing the Delaware River and the resources it has to offer. It was that desire to learn and share personal experiences that sparked the Delaware River Means photo campaign and now, over a year since its beginning, the initial photo campaign has reached its grand finale.
We’ve covered all four contests within Delaware River Means— “Fun”, “Beauty”, “Togetherness”, and “History”—but to recap: The photo contest is sponsored by Appalachian Mountain Club, and it has one main purpose, to bring people together to share their love of the Delaware River. The contestants are encouraged to share photos encompassing what the Delaware River means to them personally through these four categories, as well as to highlight the importance the river has in so many people’s lives. After uploading the photos, they then share their photos around social media, get votes from people who enjoyed their work, and the person with the highest number of votes at the end will win a prize.
For the final leg of the contest, every person who opted-in and sent a photo into a contest was entered into a pool to win the grand prize—a stand-up paddleboard set. That winner was chosen at random, and her name is Sue Stevens. Sue had previously entered the “Beauty” contest with a picture she had taken while kayaking of a young fawn along the banks of the Delaware River.
“I love photography, and nature, and it just hit me. That’s what the Delaware River means to me, getting out in nature and seeing wildlife.” Sue said regarding her photo, as well as commenting on the other photos entered into the contest. “Everyone had their own expression of what the topic meant to them, and the photos were all beautiful!”
From kayaking to hiking to cross-country skiing, Sue agreed that she is passionate about the outdoors! “I want future generations to be able to enjoy the river, just like how I raised my kids to be out there. I don’t want to see it polluted or not even accessible to the public. It’s a natural resource and we should preserve these areas.”
Sue does have some concerns about current issues facing the Delaware River. A frequent patron of the river—nearly every weekend—she can see these issues firsthand with frequency.
“(There’s a problem with) garbage on the river. People just don’t respect the river! The beer bottles, the glass… I’m always out there with a bag and a grabber, picking up what I can, but there must be more awareness for the environment.”
Sue’s concerns line up with the final survey conducted by the Delaware River Means campaign, in which they reached out to the Delaware River Watershed community to get their opinion on different topics regarding the river, such as recreation and conservation. While some of the topics were lighthearted, like 40% of the people surveyed saying they preferred paddling (kayaking, canoeing, etc.) as a river recreation, one topic was what one considered to be the biggest issue the river is facing. Out of the 163 survey participants, 37% believed “trash and other debris in the river” was the most concerning, the greatest percentage of all options, with industrial pollution (23%) following behind. Alongside that, when it came to issue engagement, most people preferred to get engaged on social media (32%) or by actively volunteering (24%).
While both those issues may seem insurmountable for the everyday citizen, there are a variety of ways one can become involved and active in safeguarding the Delaware River. Here are just a few easily accessible ways:
· Join river cleanups, which are frequently run by CDRW member organizations
· Carry a litter bag with you on your hikes to properly dispose of found litter later
· Join in on social media campaigns run by environmental organizations
· Contact local legislators to express opinions on issues
· Bring personal bags with you shopping, and say no to plastic
· Reduce single-use plastic by carrying your own reusable water bottle
CDRW realizes the threat that plastics in particular present to the watershed, which is why we have adopted it as a Policy Priority in 2019 and are starting a work group that addresses single-use plastics. While personal actions may feel small when viewed individually, when one considers all the personal actions of the people in the Delaware River Watershed the overall influence can make a significant difference!
And what does the future hold in store for the Delaware River Means campaign? Well, the Facebook page will still be operating as a means to connect their followers with watershed events. Stay tuned by clicking here to stay up to date on all future steps of DRM!
For information about upcoming volunteer events from CDRW, like river and forest cleanups, head over to our calendar page.