The Ogeechee Riverkeeper gained dozens of new members Saturday at its 2012 membership drive at Love’s Seafood Restaurant in Richmond Hill.
The nonprofit organization, which seeks to protect, preserve and promote the Ogeechee River’s water quality, provided potential Bryan County members with food, fun, live music and information about the dangers facing the river.
“This is a fun, informal way for people to see what we’re all about and what we do for the community,” said Ogeechee Riverkeeper executive director Emily Markesteyn. “Membership and donations ensure that we can continue our advocacy and protection work and maintain our quality of life.”
Missi Beasley, whose family owns riverside property in Bryan County, was one of 32 new members who joined the organization’s ranks Saturday.
“I joined because I’m all for protecting the river, and I hope they can continue to get the message across,” she said.
Markesteyn said the organization’s 1,400 members donate both time and money to help the organization with its mission.
“Advocacy is the heart of the our work. Together, we investigate pollution issues and citizen complaints. We contact government agencies about issues and try to work with them to resolve problems. We also work with legislators to ensure that good bills are passed in protection of our rivers.”
She said Richmond Hill should especially be concerned about the Ogeechee River.
“Richmond Hill is downriver in comparison to our whole water basin, so issues that happen throughout the entire water basin can directly impact the livelihoods and recreation of the people who live here,” she said.
“The quality of your surroundings directly affects your quality of life. If you’re living in pollution, your quality of life and your health are going to be affected.”
The membership event featured live music by Savannah-based band The Looters and stand-up paddleboard instruction by Half-Moon Outfitters of Savannah.
Paddleboard instructor Edward LaRossa said he gave “seven or eight” personal lessons at the event.
“The kids are really nailing it,” he said. “They’re putting almost as much power into it as the adults. It’s a blast.”
Madison Yates, a 7-year-old from Effingham, was one of LaRossa’s star students.
“I’d do it forever,” she said “It was so much fun, but fighting the current was pretty hard.”
Ellie Covington, a biologist and Ogeechee Riverkeeper volunteer who helped organize the fundraiser, said she was pleased with the event and community response it generated.
“It’s fabulous. The weather is perfect. The people are amazing and really generous. We’re so grateful for their support.”
For more information or to become an Ogeechee Riverkeeper member, visit www.ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.