Celebrating the River Women in Our Lives


Are you a woman who loves rivers? Is there a woman in your life who inspired your connection to rivers? We’d love to hear your river story — share it on social media and tag it #WeAreRivers

The river conservation movement is full of remarkable women. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, we are celebrating the women who fight for clean water and healthy rivers across the country.

Here are stories from some of the women American Rivers is honored to work with. Thank you to these ladies and to all of the moms, daughters, aunts, grandmothers, neighbors and friends who work every day to make our world a better place.

Janae DavisJanae Davis

Janae Davis worked with American Rivers staff in the Rivers of Southern Appalachia and the Carolinas. Now she is a graduate student at Clark University in Massachusetts. “Through my fellowship at American Rivers, I got a chance to delve deeper into the issues of diversity and the environmental movement,” Janae says. “I’m coming at it from both sides, as a person of color and someone who has a strong conservation ethic. I talked with diverse community leaders across the Southeast, and that gave me perspective on how far rivers reach into our lives and how far we reach into the lives of rivers. Communicating the “Rivers Connect Us” concept is really important and powerful. I want to keep working to connect our urban centers, people of color and low-income communities to rivers. We all need to work together.”

Amanda DeaverAmanda Deaver

Amanda Deaver is a board member of American Rivers and founder and president of Upstream Strategic Communications in Washington, D.C. “When I was a young adult, my dad took us on a family trip to fish the South Fork of the Flathead River in Montana. I had never been fishing before and it was magical just being on the water together. We had wonderful conversations while floating down the river. My dad and I both loved the fishing and the solitude. We had both found this passion and sharing it made it even richer. Now my family goes to Idaho every summer. My girls love going back to the same places, all their own special spots, like the bend in the river where they build fairy huts. This past summer we fished the Salmon River for the first time and the girls loved it. I just sat on the riverbank smiling and watching the joy on their faces. Being on the river helps our family connect in a unique way — there are no devices, TV, homework or distractions. Just all of us together. Now, for a new generation, rivers are once again bringing us together. It’s a gift.”

Dotty BallantyneDotty Ballantyne

Dotty Ballantyne is a longtime supporter and former board member of American Rivers. With more than 100 world fly fishing records to her name and a lifetime achievement award from the International Game Fish Association, she travels the world from the Florida Keys to the Amazon jungle to fuel her angling passion – but she always enjoys returning to her home base of Montana. Dotty fell in love with rivers when she moved to Big Sky Country in 1995 and began fly fishing. She owned land along the Yellowstone River and donated a conservation easement to the local land trust. Dotty says, “People asked me why I chose to be on the board of American Rivers. The answer is simple: I love rivers. I love to see healthy, free-flowing rivers brimming with clear, clean water.”

Karen HagenKaren Hagen

Karen Hagen is the pastor at Milwaukee’s Tippecanoe Church. American Rivers worked with Pastor Hagen and other local partners to give the church a green roof, providing a variety of benefits to the community. Planted with vegetation, the 2,000 square foot roof absorbs and filters rainwater, and keeps approximately 175,000 gallons of polluted runoff out of the Kinnickinnic River each year. In addition, the roof grows crops including tomatoes, lettuce, melons and herbs. Tending and harvesting the crops provides formerly homeless community members with meaningful work. “We can do so much more together than any one of us can do alone,” says Pastor Hagen.

We’d love to hear your story! Share it in the comments section or post it on social media with the hashtag #WeAreRivers