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Jennifer Caddick of Save the River. Photo: David Sommerstein
Jennifer Caddick of Save the River. Photo: David Sommerstein

Save the River chief Caddick to depart in June

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Jennifer Caddick has led the environmental protection and education organization Save the River for the past six years. But she's announced now she'll be stepping aside. Reporter Joanna Richards stopped by the offices of the organization to speak with Caddick about the issues that have defined her tenure at the organization and what priorities a new leader will be facing as the group begins a new chapter.

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Reported by

Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

When I got to the office, Caddick and a colleage were planning field trips for local school kids.

"So why don't you give me a rundown on what schools we have tentatively scheduled for field trips this year?" she asked.

"Well, right now we have trips planned for Alexandria Central – we have 7th grade as well as a high school chemistry – and then we also have Sherman Elementary," he colleague said. "We have a kindergarten class as well as 3rd grade."

They'll take kids out to test water quality, observe plant and wildlife diversity and clear invasive species. All of it is to give the kids a taste of Save the River's passion for the St. Lawrence.

"My family has a summer place, and so ever since college, I would spend every minute where I wasn't in school or at work or whatever up here, and developed a really strong attraction to the Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River," Caddick said. "And then that sort of meshed with my educational background, which was in environmental and public policy issues. The opportunity to take on the Save the River role came up, and it was a great chance to combine two loves: you know, the love of the St. Lawrence River and Thousand Islands, but also environmental protection and grassroots advocacy."

One of the first issues Caddick confronted when she took the helm of Save the River in 2006 was water levels on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. The International Joint Commission, the joint Canadian and U.S. organization that regulates water levels on the lake and river, had just released a study examining options for changing its management strategy. Two weeks ago it released a plan reflecting a lot of the concerns voiced by Save the River.

"And so here we are six years later and we finally have what looks like a viable option on the table, that meets our community goals, our environmental needs, and certainly there's still a long way to go, but it's exciting to see that process sort of coming to – hopefully – near the end. So that's been really rewarding, and it's such a critical issue for the health of the St. Lawrence River."

Caddick is also proud to leave the organization after a strong fundraising campaign, and with office renovations well underway.

"We've raised over $700,000 and we're still going strong on our fundraising and about to wrap all of that up. And that's been just a big physical transformation of our office. As you can see, you know, we've about doubled our size and it's really nice to be able to leave a sort of tangible mark on the organization as well."

Save the River's board of directors has created a search committee to find Caddick's replacement. The position is advertised on the group's website, and review of applications should begin in late March or early April.

"The next director, whoever decides to take on this role, will have a really full plate of programs to keep their eye on and keep a strong strategic focus on some of our traditional Seaway issues, but also expanding some of those really important environmental education and outreach programs."

Caddick can't yet say what her next move will be. She is set to depart June 29.

For North Country Public Radio, I'm Joanna Richards, in Clayton.

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