After dedicating herself for six years as a ClearWater Conservancy board member, Cynthia Berger will be moving on. She and her husband Bill Carlsen (also a ClearWater volunteer), will be setting sail on their solar-powered canal boat! Cynthia has contributed countless days of her time and scientific expertise to advance the mission of ClearWater Conservancy, playing a key role in many of the organization’s recent conservation efforts such as the Slab Cabin Run Initiative. She was awarded the Barbara Fisher Volunteer of the Year Award in 2017, and her leadership has permanently enhanced ClearWater’s ability to collaborate and innovate in the best possible way.
We asked Cynthia to reflect on her time with ClearWater Conservancy, and unsurprisingly, she offered the following inspirational account of being a ClearWater Conservancy board member. Thank you, Cynthia!
Cynthia and Bill, site-stewarding at Focht Farm
Right after college I worked for a local citizen’s action group that was working to defend a water source in Massachusetts. That started my lifelong interest in water resources.
Eight years ago, my husband and I spent a year traveling 6,000 miles around eastern North America in our solar-powered boat. Along the way we got a very up close and personal look at all the different challenges facing our nation’s waters, and when I got home, I decided I had to embrace the slogan “think globally, act locally.” I went to the ClearWater website and filled out the “I want to volunteer” form, mentioning that I was interested in serving on the board. A few weeks later, ClearWater Conservancy contacted me, and that was the start.
I’ve been so impressed by this organization. It was already a powerhouse for conservation action when I joined the board, with a staff that’s incredibly organized, productive, and dedicated. Since then the engines have just revved up more and more. Becoming accredited was a huge accomplishment that helps ClearWater Conservancy be even more effective, and I’m so proud of how the Slab Cabin Run project is protecting our local water supply and the rural beauty and “sense of place” in our area.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about my time at ClearWater Conservancy is serving as a riparian steward. My husband and I visit once a month to then young trees along a section of Slab Cabin Run. It’s been wonderful working with the landowners, who are so excited about improving the health of the stream and adding wildlife habitat and beauty to their property, while their livestock still have water access. We almost feel like we have come to know each tree personally. Seeing the native species grow and outcompete the invasive species at the site—and spotting big trout in the stream– has been really rewarding.
I’m sad to be leaving just at this moment because ClearWater has so many important and innovative new projects in the queue. More sections of Slab Cabin Run will be restored and ClearWater is exploring a new approach to riparian protection that will benefit farmers even more. Meanwhile the new strategic plan will be unveiled soon and set the course for conservation right through the year 2050—a visionary approach!
I’m so grateful to have had the chance to work with former director Jen Shuey, current director Deb Nardone, all the ClearWater staff, and my wonderful fellow board members. It’s been a learning and growing experience, and I can’t wait to see what the conservancy accomplishes next.
As for our plans, we will cruise our solar boat through the historic canals of Canada this summer, and serve as volunteer park rangers and naturalists in Everglades National Park in the winter. We will be stationed in Everglades City, just south of Marco Island on Florida’s West Coast. You can follow us along on our trip by visiting www.slowboatcruise.net.
When you volunteer, you get more out of it than you put in. I am so grateful for the experience of working with all of you, my wise, passionate, dedicated, visionary conservationist friends. I am constantly amazed by, impressed by, and grateful for all that ClearWater accomplishes here in Central PA.
Bill and Cynthia will be volunteer park rangers in the Everglades National Park after their canal boat adventure!
Cynthia, we thank you for your passionate commitment to ClearWater Conservancy from 2012-2018. We wish you the safest and happiest travels!