Jenn Patterson, Program Director for Black Warrior Riverkeeper won the James Lowery Service Award on March 17, 2012. The Alabama Rivers Alliance selects one James Lowery Service Award winner each year based on his or her outstanding work and commitment to protecting rivers and their watersheds. Jenn received the 2012 award at the Alabama Rivers Alliance's annual "Alabama Water Rally" hosted by Camp Beckwith in Fairhope, Alabama. Award photo by John Wathen, Hurrican Creekkeeper
The award is named for James Lowery, who served on Black Warrior Riverkeeper's Board from 2003 through 2009, and returned in 2011. James is retired as UAB's Director of Management Support Services and considers himself an "amateur scientist." He is active in environmental education as a member of eight environmental and science related Boards and serves as an officer on four of those Boards. James' widespread involvement in Alabama non-profit organizations was featured in the August 28, 2005, Birmingham News edition of "Good Work." In 2011, the Alabama Rivers Alliances named James its "Volunteer of the Decade" and started an annual award in his name.
The Alabama Rivers Alliance was formed out of the efforts of its
predecessor – the Alabama State Rivers Coalition. The Alabama State
Rivers Coalition was formed in 1993 and led by the Cahaba River Society,
Alabama Chapter of the Sierra Club, Lake Watch of Lake Martin, Alabama
Citizen Action, Friends of the Locust Fork River, and the Alabama
Environmental Council. Over the past decade, working with its partners, the Alliance has claimed the following successes:
- Assisted in building, uniting, and supporting more than 70 grassroots watershed organizations throughout the state.
- Worked with multiple stakeholders to designate some of Alabama's most ecologically significant rivers and streams as "Outstanding Alabama Waters."
- Helped form the ADEM Reform Coalition in order to forge a reformed state environmental agency that is run "for the people and by the people."
- Implemented an acid mine drainage reclamation project in the Hurricane Creek watershed.
- Successfully advocated a rule change to reduce cancer risk statewide through a change in water quality standards.
Jennifer Patterson began studying ecology in high school at Saint James in Montgomery. Working through college she performed water quality assessments at an aquaculture lab. She earned her degree in Geography and Biology from the University of South Alabama. Jenn has worked with local conservation organizations including the Southern Environmental Center, Alabama Urban Forestry Association and Auntie Litter. At International Expeditions, she was the destination manager for the Galapagos Islands where she served as a board member for the International Galapagos Tour Operators' Association, which lobbies for conservation, funds projects and promotes the practice sustainable tourism. She is an avid gardener and is passionate about recycling. Jenn was part-time co-Program Director in 2009 and became full-time Program Director in 2010. She earned Alabama Master Gardener status from the Alabama Cooperative Extension in 2010. As Program Director, Jenn assists with outreach and presentations, coordinates programs with partner organizations, help strengthen public support within the watershed and joins Nelson Brooke, Riverkeeper, on certain pollution investigations.
Patterson in the field with Black Warrior Riverkeeper staff, photo by Eva Dillard
Warrior Riverkeeper's mission is to protect and restore the Black
Warrior River and its tributaries. It is a citizen-based nonprofit
organization dedicated to improving water quality, habitat, recreation,
and public health throughout its patrol area, the Black Warrior River
watershed. This vital river basin is entirely contained within Alabama,
America's number one state for freshwater biodiversity. Patrolling waterways,
educating the public, and holding polluters accountable has made us an
important proponent of clean water throughout the basin. BWR staff identifies pollution problems and works on fixing them while increasing public awareness.
The Black Warrior River drains parts of 17 Alabama counties. The area the river drains, its watershed, covers 6,276 square miles in Alabama and measures roughly 300 miles from top to bottom. The Black Warrior River watershed is home to over one million residents and contains 16,145.89 miles of mapped streams. Its headwaters consist of the Sipsey, Mulberry, and Locust Forks. In 2011 the Black Warrior was named one of America's Most Endangered Rivers by the national river protection organization American Rivers.