Grateful on the Waccamaw

Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw Riverkeeper 

We are now in the time of year when people begin to think more about gratefulness. Changing leaves and cooler weather are issuing in the fall in the south. With the holidays approaching, feelings of gratitude and kindness pervade our thoughts. As the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, I have a lot to be grateful for this year.

I am grateful for the natural beauty of the Waccamaw River. I recently had the opportunity to host a paddle on Pitch Lodge Lake on the Waccamaw. While the weather was still quite warm and more like summer, the fall foliage had begun to emerge. The dark blackwater displayed a perfect reflection of the blazing colors of the leaves in the surrounding swamps. A Double-crested Cormorant overlooked our small party as he dried his wings perched above the water. I am always struck by the beauty of the river and on this paddle I was grateful to enjoy the quiet on the water that early Monday morning. Preserving that natural beauty for ourselves and our future generations is a pillar of our mission at Winyah Rivers Foundation. For that I am grateful.

I am grateful for our dedicated volunteers. Earlier this fall, our coast was threatened by Hurricane Irma. We canceled our volunteer events including a portion of our fall cleanup and a volunteer water quality monitoring sampling day. We wanted ensure the safety of our volunteers by making sure they had time to prepare for the coming storm. Luckily, Irma missed our coast, though we still saw minor flooding on the Waccamaw. But our volunteers would not be deterred by rising waters. Once the rain had passed, they returned to the Waccamaw to clean up trash and monitor water quality. Our volunteers are incredible. Without them, we would never be able to all that we do. I am so grateful for our volunteers and their dedication.

I am grateful for clean water. Here along the Waccamaw River, we are lucky to have access to clean water. There are people throughout the world – even here in the United States – who do not have easy access to clean water. We take it for granted; we turn on the tap and we have seemingly limitless access to clean water. In parts of Africa and Asia, people – usually women and children – have to walk an average of nearly 4 miles just to have access to clean water. In Flint, Michigan, people have been without clean water for over three years. Clean water is necessary for everyday life to every person on earth. I am grateful for access to clean water.

In November we celebrate World Kindness Day on the 13th and Thanksgiving on the 23rd. These are days to spend with family and friends embracing gratefulness and kindness in our lives. Following Thanksgiving is Giving Tuesday on November 28th. Giving Tuesday is a global event of online giving through social media. This is a chance for people to show their gratefulness through charity. If you are like me and are grateful for the Waccamaw River and clean water, consider donating on Giving Tuesday to the Winyah Rivers Foundation. Follow us on Facebook or visit our website at to learn how you can show your gratefulness. We rely on your donations to protect your right to fishable, swimmable, drinkable water. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as your Waccamaw Riverkeeper and uphold our mission to protect, preserve, monitor, and revitalize that lands and waters of the greater Winyah Bay Watershed.

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