Every year since 1994, Clean Up the River Environment (CURE) has awarded the RiverKeeper Award to an individual, organization or government agency who has worked in an exemplary manner over the past year to carry out CURE’s mission to “focus public awareness on the Minnesota River Watershed and to take action to restore and protect its water quality, biological integrity and natural beauty for all generations.” For 2013, Kylene Olson of Watson, MN and the Executive Director of the Chippewa River Watershed Project was recognized for 16 years of exemplary watershed work and was awarded the RiverKeeper Award at CURE’s 22nd Annual Meeting.
Olson, who was born and raised in the Chippewa River Watershed, now directs the protection and improvement of that same watershed. In 1998, she became the first executive director of the Chippewa River Watershed Project, a non-regulatory, cooperative partnership and citizen-based approach focused on improving water quality and watershed life in the Chippewa River and its tributaries. Her knowledge of local conditions has given Olson an opportunity to work with citizens and government agencies on a shared vision for improving water quality in the watershed.
Audrey Arner, a past RiverKeeper Award recipient, described Olson to attendees,
“she is known for her dedication, depth of knowledge and deep passion for the work she does and the place in which she lives. She is also recognized for her ability to communicate complex and often controversial information across sectors and interests. Her success is generated from others trusting her motives and analysis.”
The RiverKeeper Award is a hand made plate donated every year by Tokheim Stoneware inscribed with a bible verse from Amos: “May justice flow like water and integrity as an unfailing stream.” Justice and integrity are rare traits but CURE found them within Kylene Olson’s work.