Last Updated on February 1, 2024
As many of us know, the San Antonio River Authority’s River Warriors are no ordinary group of volunteers. River Warriors are seen as an extension of the River Authority and River Foundation family, stewards to the San Antonio River, and ambassadors of the River Authority and Foundation’s mission of being committed to safe, clean, and enjoyable creeks and rivers. The River Warrior volunteer program is comprised of community members throughout our four counties of Bexar, Wilson, Karnes, and Goliad, with a wide variety of expertise stemming from different professions and areas of interest —all to inspire action for healthy creeks and rivers. Here are some highlights over the past year:
- Over 500 River Warriors participated in 16 litter clean-up events, removing a total of 15,000 lbs. of trash from both water and land.
- Trained River Warriors assisted with the removal of 5063 Apple Snail egg cases and 6352 Apple Snails. River Warriors contributed approximately 36.3% of the total snails removed by the River Authority.
- 20 River Warrior citizen scientists monitor 18 sites throughout the watershed to test for pH, dissolved oxygen, temperature, field conditions, and more. This data is turned over to the Texas Stream Team and contributed to a larger database of water quality data throughout Texas.
- Citizen Scientists utilized the iNaturalist app to make 20,168 observations of 2549 species within our watershed and beat Austin for the first time for 3rd place in the state during the City Nature Challenge 2023 in April, & placed 7th in the state for the Parks for Pollinators Bioblitz. These observations can become research-grade data utilized by scientists nationwide to document species of particular interest, migratory patterns, invasive species, and more.
- This year, River Warriors and corporate/community partners participated in a total of 76 volunteer events, lending to a whopping 3,000 volunteer hours from November 2022 to November 2023. Way to go, Warriors!
On Friday, November 10, the River Authority and River Foundation held our third Annual Volunteer Appreciation Mixer and Awards Ceremony at the spectacular Ruby City contemporary art center just along the newly opened phase 2 of San Pedro Creek Culture Park. The River Authority along with the River Foundation celebrated the time and dedication of board members and a variety of committee members as well as recognizing outstanding and dedicated River Warriors for the following categories:
2023 CORPORATE PARTNER AWARD
Deloitte, JP Morgan Chase, and Republic National Distribution Company assisted with litter clean-ups, apple snail removal, and more.
The River Authority is also proud to mention its latest partnership with the Veterans Onward group in an effort to provide support and community-building opportunities for military personnel.
2023 AAMN LEADERSHIP AWARD
The River Authority recognized Christopher Fullerton, Peter Hernandez, and Cheryl Wallek for their endless support of the agency’s sustainability initiatives and for inspiring their fellow Master Naturalists to get involved.
2023 PADDLING CREW CHAMPION
Cheryl Wallek received her second recognition for leading a paddling crew over the last year to provide support for not only litter clean-ups but for Apple Snail Removal initiatives as well.
Cheryl and the Snail Removal River Warrior crew!
2023 DON’T LET LITTER TRASH YOUR RIVER CHAMPIONS
Robert Gonzales and Martina Flores can almost always be found with a trash picker and bag in hand. Robert consistently attends monthly clean-ups, donning his blue Proud River Warrior cap. Martina’s passion for trash picking began right in her very own backyard and expanded to her neighborhood and now the watershed. These two are our trash-picking superstars!
2023 RIVER WARRIOR AMBASSADOR
Todd Phillips, a dedicated citizen scientist, paddling crew member, and volunteer, was recognized for creating the first National Wildlife Federation-certified fully native Sacred Grounds Project in Texas at his church.
2023 APPLE SNAIL REMOVAL CHAMPION
David Mullins was recognized for the removal of a total of 3021 snails and 434 egg cases this year alone (and 5,449 snails and 1,989 egg cases overall), followed by Barbara Merrill with the removal of a total of 214 snails and 99 egg cases.
2023 CHAMPION WATER QUALITY CITIZEN SCIENTIST
The River Authority recognized Rachel Cywinski, who logged 49 monitoring events this year, and Karen Wilson, who logged 33 monitoring events, for contributing valuable data to the Texas Stream Team.
River Warrior Rachel Cywinski
2023 CHAMPION INATURALIST CITIZEN SCIENTIST
Peter Hernandez led 3 iNaturalist trainings, 5 nature walks, and a Moth Night to inspire the community to participate in identifying the biodiversity of our watershed, connecting with community members, and having fun all at the same time!
2023 TOP DOCENT AWARD
Barbara & Carl Scheib, and Jane Bockus were all recognized for their incessant support of and contagious enthusiasm for the River Authority’s mission & vision. From dressing up as litterbugs for the 2023 Butterfly and Pollinator Festival to their innovative Apple Snail Removal tools, these three trained docents are always ready to lend a hand!
Upon receiving their awards, River Warriors mingled for a time before wrapping up the chilly night out. As Master Naturalist Peter Hernandez put it, “Our fingers were cold, but our hearts were warm.”
The San Antonio River Authority and the San Antonio River Foundation would like to extend deep gratitude to our dedicated River Warriors. We would like to acknowledge all the hard work, tireless support, and passion that each of you has poured into our mission and vision of inspiring action for healthy creeks and rivers. It is hard not to be River Proud with a stewardship-focused community like ours! Go River Warriors!