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Meet our FAO Schwarz Fellow, Nicholas Mitch

Nick Mitch Boat

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FAO Schwarz FellowAfter four years in Maine, I’m excited to be in the Hudson Valley starting my fifth month at Riverkeeper on the Advocacy and Engagement team. My position is part of the FAO Schwarz Fellowship program, and I am one of ten fellows serving in two-year positions at nonprofits in Boston, Philadelphia, and New York. Working for Riverkeeper is an incredible opportunity to further immerse myself in environmental advocacy, building on my past experiences interning at The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service, and the Damariscotta River Association.

Growing up in south-central Indiana gave me a first-hand look at how communities impact and are impacted by the rivers and streams that flow through them. I first learned about Combined Sewer Overflows at 6 years old, as my parents led an ultimately successful fight to close an outfall in a park in the center of our town. As I got older, I learned more about the ways my community was degrading the water we depended on – how abandoned factory sites were contaminating our groundwater, how industrial farming was degrading our rivers and streams, and how proposals for new fossil fuel power plants in my county would only make it all worse.

I dove into studying these topics in college, and experienced relationships between communities and waterways in new ways on the coast of Maine while studying Government, Environmental Studies, and Oceanography at Bowdoin College. All these experiences ultimately instilled in me a core understanding that I’m excited to live out at Riverkeeper: healthy ecosystems and healthy communities go hand-in-hand. In the long term, you can’t have one without the other. From Brooklyn to the Catskills and beyond I’m thrilled to be able to help communities thrive alongside our beautiful, dynamic river and its tributaries.

My work at Riverkeeper is to help people connect with and be stewards of their river. Since starting at Riverkeeper in late August,  I have made visits to seven schools to teach students about the river, assisted with ongoing efforts to stop the Army Corps’ ill-conceived storm surge barriers and prevent single-use plastics pollution, and sailed on the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and accompanied Captain John Lipscomb out on patrol on the R. Ian Fletcher, Riverkeeper’s patrol boat.

Looking ahead to the spring, I’m especially excited to be working with Jen Benson (who was Riverkeeper’s FAO Schwarz Fellow from 2015 to 2017) to build on last year’s record-setting Sweep that removed more than 37 tons of trash from the Hudson and its tributaries. It’s thanks to our amazing volunteers and supporters that we’re able to pull off this day of service for the Hudson, and I can’t wait to work with everyone to ensure that a healthy Hudson, full of life, is a reality from source to sea.

Nicholas Mitch grew up in Columbus, Indiana and graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in May 2018. He works on the advocacy and engagement team as Riverkeeper’s FAO Schwarz Fellow.

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