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Monday, April 13, 2015

Watershed Alliance staff members honored

Congratulations to Denise Poyer and Elise Torello
Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association

WPWA is very pleased to announce that two of our staff received awards last month!

Denise Poyer:  2015 RI Blueways Alliance Stewardship Award and Trout Unlimited Narragansett Chapter’s 2014 Lawson Cary Jr. Conservationist of the Year    
Denise Poyer was nominated by RI DEM Director, Janet Coit, to receive the 2015 RI Blueways Alliance Stewardship Award, given to her at the March 14, 2015 Land and Water Summit.  According to Director Coit:

“Denise has made a tremendous impact over the past twenty year as the Program Director for the WPWA. During that time, she has developed the educational and recreational programs and led water quality, research and outreach programs. 

"With her degrees and expertise in Wildlife Biology and Environmental Education, Denise has developed monitoring protocols, written scientific papers, and led specific efforts to improve water quality. However, I believe Denise has changed the world through her direct communications on behalf of rivers. 

"Leading paddles and hikes for WPWA, Denise has connected hundreds of people, from school-children to Governors and Senators, to the river ecosystem in a way that inspires them to get involved. 

"With patience, passion and plain-spoken language, she brings alive the diversity and special qualities of the watershed. This ability to reveal and connect is at the heart of many other accomplishments – from land conservation and management projects, to designation of the Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

Thank you for considering Denise Poyer. She is a steward, educator, scientist and ambassador for our rivers. Her commitment to community and the natural environment and her knowledge, enthusiasm and down-home approach make her a standout who can move mountains when it comes to rivers.”

Denise also received the 2014 Lawson Cary Jr. Conservationist of the Year Award from the Narragansett Chapter of Trout Unlimited at their Annual Meeting held March 28, 2015.  “Her outstanding work in conserving, protecting, restoring, and sustaining coldwater fisheries and their watersheds with cooperative, educational, and environmental activities throughout RI” was cited as the reason she was chosen to receive this prestigious award.  

What makes this award even more valuable is that Denise worked with Lawson for many years on various conservation projects in the watershed.


Elise Torello:  2015 Watershed Stewards Award

Citizen scientists with the URI Watershed Watch (WW) volunteer water quality monitoring program are known for their years-long dedication and diligent monitoring of local waters. 

Many of them take their watershed stewardship to higher levels, with additional involvement with local organizations focused on understanding, protecting and restoring land and water resources.  

In recognition of this, in 1996 the URI Watershed Watch program established the Watershed Stewards award to honor outstanding and long-term WW local sponsors and/or volunteers. 

Indeed the first recipients were Bart Hurley and Mitch Salomon, both WPWA and community stalwarts. WPWA’s Denise Poyer was the award recipient in 2011, and WPWA itself in 2001.

After receiving the 2014 Watershed Stewards award, Claire Gavin, monitoring coordinator for CT’s Clean Up the Sound and Harbors (CUSH) urged WW to consider honoring Elise Torello with this prestigious award.  We were happy to oblige and indeed awarded Elise with the 2015 URI Watershed Watch Watershed Stewards award.

Elise was chosen because of her work with a number of watershed organizations.  She has been a Salt Pond Watcher for the Salt Ponds Coalition (SPC), monitoring Potter Pond for seven years.  That led her to become a member of their Board of Directors from 2008-2012 and their Executive Director from 2012-2014.

In 2007 she became a consultant and volunteer for WPWA compiling over 20 years of WPWA’s water quality monitoring data into a Microsoft Access database, producing reports with tables and plots of the data, and creating a Google Map through which all of the data reports can be accessed online via the WPWA website. She did the same for SPC’s almost 30 years of data.  

She was paid for only one year of this massive effort that required extreme attention to detail. Such was the success of this effort that SPC, Save the Bay and CUSH called upon her expertise to produce Aquatic Health Index reports, based on their volunteer monitoring data.

In March 2015 Elise was selected to join the Town of South Kingstown’s Planning Board, where all her skills will be put to use, including her GIS expertise.

And, coming full circle, Elise is WPWA’s newest employee – Program Coordinator, as of February 2015.