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Voyage Denver: Meet Sarah Nelson of Protect Our Rivers

Executive Director Sarah Nelson was featured in Voyage Denver Magazine. Here are a couple of snippets from the interview. To read the full article click HERE.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Nelson.

Sarah, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin? Since I can remember, my dream has been to do something meaningful that inspires positive change and gives back, specifically to the outdoors. Before Protect Our Rivers, I ran marketing for Good River Beer. In October, we got invited to join one of our brand partners, Downriver Equipment, on a Cataract Canyon river trip to explore over 100 miles of the Colorado River.

Rivers weren’t brand new to me, but I have never experienced anything quite like that trip. I was in awe of the magic of the river and the way everyone came together to live and support each other for six days. And the pride and respect river runners have for rivers and the surrounding ecosystem is beyond anything I’ve ever known.

That trip really inspired me and made me think about getting involved or starting a new river-focused nonprofit organization. When we returned, my husband and I faced some unexpected challenges that rocked us. We both got laid off, and at the same time, we lost my dad to cancer at age 63. Losing a father really hits home that life is too short, so spend it doing what you love and with who you love. So, I reached out to who is now our founding board members, and they eagerly jumped on board to start to Protect Our Rivers with me. Just like me, rivers have changed the trajectory of their lives in incredible ways.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?

Protect Our Rivers is a very young nonprofit. We started in March. So, fortunately, we haven’t experienced had any significant obstacles. Our greatest challenge so far has been getting funding to roll out some of the education programs and hands-on conversation projects we have in mind. Many grants and programs require a year of financials before you can even apply.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business? Rivers are lifelines in every community across the world, and they are in critical need of protection. As a nonprofit organization, our mission is to make a positive, lasting impact on river conservation through hands-on action, education, and access. In doing so, we hope that future generations retain access to these critical resources and have opportunities to discover the solace, adventure, and harmony that healthy rivers provide us all.

We organize river cleanup events and volunteer projects across Colorado and have hopes to expand regionally in the next year. Since we started in February, we’ve organized 26 river cleanup events and, with the help of our volunteers, we’ve removed over 10,400 lbs. of trash from rivers, streams, and nearby beaches. In addition to our active conservation efforts, we help educate people on the importance of waterways and ways to protect them.

We help distribute important information about river issues and river health and are rolling out a watershed education program to schools and after-school programs over the next few months. Lastly, we create opportunities to get people on river day trips and access river recreational activities. In doing so, people get to experience the natural power and beauty of rivers for themselves and hopefully will be forever changed and thus motivated to help us in our mission.

For those who know us, I hope you know us for our hands-on work and approach to river conservation, undeniable love for river recreation, and our tireless dedication to protecting rivers. They serve as lifelines across every community in the world.

I love the passion behind what we are doing. Rivers have meaningfully changed the lives of everyone on our team and board. We’d be doing what we’re doing no matter what because rivers have given so much to us that we want to give back.

I’d like our readers to know that we’re here and we’re in it for the long haul. We will never give up on our mission, even when we’re tired and the battle to protect rivers and restore flows seems hopeless.....

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