Land to Sea Speaker Series

Clean Ocean Access’ 2020 – 2021 Land to Sea Speaker Series was a huge success thanks to our awesome speakers and community members like you! The goal of the Land to Sea Speaker Series was to highlight professionals across sectors who shared background knowledge about our vibrant coastal ecosystems, sharing active work efforts to improve water quality and further prevent stormwater runoff while leaving our listeners with actionable ways that they can improve ocean health in their daily lives. This Series was made possible due to generous funding from The Amgen Foundation and The Island Foundation. We are now building upon the success of last year for a multi-month series of community building events for 2021-2022. These events are meant to foster a multi-generational conversation and sense of collaboration regarding watershed stewardship. Including evening outreach presentations for adults, morning education workshops at schools for children, and outdoor, place-based programs for all ages, these events will connect learning with the primary goals of increasing community and family engagement, the potential for stewardship action, and promoting an understanding of where our communities exist within our fragile watershed.

Looking Forward to the 2021-2022 Series

We are now building upon the success of last year for a multi-month series of community building events for 2021-2022. These events are meant to foster a multi-generational conversation and sense of collaboration regarding watershed stewardship. Stay tuned for more details of how to get involved!

About the 2020-2021 Series

Graphic listing tips for improving water quality by taking responsible care of your lawnBelow is the information for each installment, with a link to the recording and additional resources concerning the topic. 

Environmental Protection Agency:

    • Christine Beling, Team Leader for Sustainable Materials Management (SMM)
Christine joined the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA New England) in 1994, after serving with the EPA in Region 2 and Headquarters, and with a private consulting firm and the Department of Energy in Washington D.C. She is the Team Leader for the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) program and a member of the Land, Chemicals and Redevelopment Division. Chris provides technical assistance and outreach on SMM priorities to New England State and local governments, businesses and institutions. Chris currently manages over $2 Million in grants for New England stakeholders in a variety of programs including Healthy Communities, Anaerobic Digestion Capacity Building, Pollution Prevention and Brownfields. Chris holds a B.S in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University. About Their Talk Christine is the EPA Team Leader for Sustainable Materials Management (SMM), a systemic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire life cycles, spoke about her work with the RI Food Policy Council, Newport Housing Authority and other RI Stakeholders to create a social marketing campaign about the benefits of saving food and composting true food waste. The goal of the project was to grow empower the local community by focusing on food waste reduction, while engaging households in data collection and using tools from EPA’s Food Too Good To Waste program to better understand their waste footprints. Christine also discussed waste management and recycling issues at large and the EPA's priorities for addressing these issues.
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management:
    • Jenny Paquet, Senior Environmental Planner, RIDEM Nonpoint Source Pollution Management Program

Jennifer Paquet is a senior environmental planner with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management’s (RIDEM) Office of Water Resources. She is in the Nonpoint Source Pollution Program where she focuses on watershed planning and policies and regulations pertaining to low-impact development. Prior to joining RIDEM, she was the town planner for the rural town of West Greenwich for 15 years where, among many other things, she reviewed site plans, visited construction sites to see the plans come to fruition, managed the MS4 Stormwater Program, and worked with the planning board on various updates to the land development regulations. Paquet holds a B.A. in geology from Mount Holyoke College and a master of community planning with a concentration in environmental and land use planning from the University of Rhode Island.

About Their Talk Clean water is the most important natural resource to the future of Rhode Island, and everyone shares in the responsibility to protect it.  Taking actions to protect and restore our water resources has many other benefits.  Ms. Paquet gave a presentation about the Aquidneck Island Watershed Plan, which she is currently drafting. This plan will tie together existing efforts and prioritize important actions to protect and restore water quality and aquatic habitats on the Island.  In her talk, she discussed some local water quality conditions, the relationship between land use activities and water quality, the co-benefits of water quality protection, as well as what is being done by government and non-governmental organizations.  She highlighted what you can do to prevent water pollution—because it is all connected!
Aquidneck Land Trust:
    • Chuck Allott, Executive Director 
Charles “Chuck” Allott, Esq. is the Executive Director of the Aquidneck Land Trust (“ALT”). ALT has conserved and permanently protected over 2600 acres of land on Aquidneck Island with high conservation values (farmland, watershed protection land, wetlands and wildlife habitat, recreation lands, cultural landscapes, and scenic corridors). ALT became the first nationally accredited land trust in Rhode Island in 2009. Chuck was one of the founding members of ALT in 1990 when a group of civic-minded island residents came together with the vision of saving some of the last great open spaces on the island. Prior to becoming Executive Director of ALT, Chuck was a real estate, land use and conservation attorney at Hinckley Allen in Providence. Chuck has resided in every community on Aquidneck Island and currently resides in Newport with his life partner, Ellen and two dogs, Hatchet and Penny. Chuck is an avid outdoorsman. Elizabeth Scott Consulting:
    • Elizabeth Scott, Owner of Elizabeth Scott Consulting
Elizabeth is owner of Elizabeth Scott Consulting, and currently works with the Southeast New England Program Network, a partnership of 15 environmental organizations, academic institutions, and consultants who work collaboratively to provide stormwater and watershed management, ecological restoration, and financing expertise to communities and organizations across Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She has over 30 years’ experience as a water resources professional, previously serving as Deputy Chief in the RI Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Water Resources.  Elizabeth received a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Cornell University, and Master of Arts in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island. About Their Talk In this presentation, the speakers explained how the Aquidneck Land Trust, the SNEP Network, and their partners are working to repair damage, improve water quality, and protect our valuable water resources. Presenters, Chuck Allott and Elizabeth Scott, shared details of current projects along the Maidford River, Almy Pond, and other areas. They also provided tips on how every landowner can become a better steward of their property, showing how small actions taken by many can create notable improvements.
Rhode Island Department of Transportation:
    • Brian Moore, Administrator - Office of Stormwater Management
Brian Moore currently works as the Administrator for the Environmental Division of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) where he oversees the Office of Stormwater Management, Natural Resources Unit and RIDOT MS4 Program. Leading up to his current role with RIDOT, Brian spent 22 years as the Supervising Sanitary Engineer with the Office of Water Resources, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) and then worked for two years as the Chief of Groundwater and Wetland Protection within the Office of Water Resources, RIDEM. Throughout his career, he has served on several boards and committees, most recently with RIEMA Disaster Housing Committee and RI Board of Registration for Professional Engineers. About Their Talk Have you ever considered how our roadways contribute to the health of our local waterways and water systems? The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) plays a big role in maintaining state roadways and managing their storm water systems on Aquidneck Island. This is important because they border the island’s drinking water supply, Newport Harbor and freshwater streams that drain into coastal waterways. During this talk, Brian Moore, Administrator for the Environmental Division of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), discussed the plans in place to monitor and improve stormwater pollution control in coordination with an EPA consent decree for the Clean Water Act, as well as, how the agency partners with municipalities and nonprofit organizations to implement strategies and infrastructure for stormwater remediation, and shared stormwater control plans currently implemented on Aquidneck Island.
Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants
    • Thomas Ardito, Southeast New England Watershed Grant Program Director
Tom Ardito has worked in environmental restoration, non-profit management, fundraising and grant-making for more than 20 years, including work for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, Center for Ecosystem Restoration, Aquidneck Island Planning Commission and Restore America's Estuaries. About their Talk: Tom Ardito is the Southeast New England Watershed Grant Program Director, and has worked in environmental restoration, non-profit management, fundraising and grant-making for more than 20 years. in his talk, Tom discussed the Southeast New England Watershed Grants program, and explained how the organization is working to deter watershed pollution. In addition, Tom also spoke about the work that SNEP has funded to date, and the upcoming grant round.
  • Watch a recording of the event here.
  • Click here to view the presentation slides.
Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District:
    • Sara Churgin, District Manager
Sara received her BS and Education Degrees from Northwestern University. She received her JD from USF, School of Law. She worked as a litigator, was in-house counsel for Blue Cross and did transactional work for a small startup company in the technical industry.  She also worked for Warner Home Video in Hamburg, Germany in the Licensing Department. She is presently the District Manager for the Eastern RI Conservation District and Project Coordinator for the. She brings her legal, financial, and networking expertise to educate people in the state, municipal and private sectors about the work the Conservation District does, and how it can service them. As a leadership member of the RI Green Infrastructure Coalition, she is very involved in programs involving stormwater management and the implementation of green infrastructure in order to mitigate stormwater runoff.  She is also the chair for the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission. Aquidneck Island Planning Commission:
    • Allison McNally, Program Director
About their talk: Allison McNally is Program Manager for Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) and Sara Churgin is District Manager for Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD). In this talk, they discussed a recently completed green stormwater infrastructure project at Hoogendoorn Nurseries in Middletown as part of AIPC’s Island Waters Project. They covered the scope and impact of the project, how an array of partners pulled together to make the project a reality, and the opportunities for farmers to benefit from collaborations with the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Save the Bay:
    • Jed Thorp, Advocacy Coordinator
Jed Thorp is the Advocacy Coordinator for Save The Bay where he represents Save The Bay before the General Assembly and helps to engage members and supporters in grassroots advocacy efforts. A native of Ohio, Jed has nearly 20 years of experience in environmental policy and advocacy, and has worked for Ohio Citizen Action, Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. Jed holds a BA and MA in political science and resides near the upper Bay in Cranston.
  • Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management:
          • Ann Battersby, Senior Environmental Scientist
    Ann Battersby is a Senior Environmental Scientist at RIDEM with the Office of Customer and Technical Assistance. Ann has a bachelor’s degree in Plant and Soil Sciences from UMASS Amherst and a master’s degree in Environmental Science & Policy from Clark University. Ann has experience managing Pollution Prevention (P2) grant programs as evident by the award of the FY 2014, FY 2018, and FY 2020 grant cycles and subsequent on-time completion and delivery of required material.  She manages the following programs at RIDEM: P2 Grant Programs, RI Green Golf Course Certification program, Mercury in Products regulatory program, Clean Marina program, Toxics in Packaging (TIP) regulatory program, and Green Hospitality Programs. She has also been an adjunct faculty member at Quinebaug Valley Community College in Danielson, CT since 2011 teaching introductory college courses in Biology, Environmental Science, and Ecology.  
About Their Talk: Stormwater is often cited as one of the biggest sources of pollution to Narragansett Bay and the ocean. However, stormwater is simply a delivery mechanism; the pollutants carried by stormwater come from human activities and development. In this talk, Jed and Ann will discuss one of the biggest contributors to stormwater pollution - fertilizers - and what can be done to reduce the problem. From best management practices for individual homeowners, to policy solutions for local governments, we'll explore how we can begin to get a handle on this growing challenge.
Useful links from this installment: Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation:
        • Madison Burke, Education and Outreach Manager
Madison is the Education and Outreach Manager at Rhode Island Resource Recovery where she develops public programs in support of waste reduction, recycling, composting, and proper waste disposal for the state of Rhode Island. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communications and a dual master’s degree in Regional Planning and Sustainability Science from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. About their talk: When you put your trash and recycling out at the curb, do you know where it goes? Does it all just seem to go “away”? The thing is, “away” is a real place - it’s RI Resource Recovery located in Johnston. Madison Burke joined us to find out more about where your trash and recycling goes and how you can do the right thing with all your stuff when you are done with it. During this presentation, she reviewed the five operations at Resource Recovery, what Rhode Islanders are throwing away that could be diverted through composting or special programs, the basic guidelines for recycling right, and small behavior changes that can make a big impact.
Useful links from this installment: RIDOH Beaches Program

Sherry Poucher, RI Department of Health Recreational Waters Manager  About their talk: The final installment of our Land to Sea Speaker Series! Sherry Poucher is the Recreational Waters Manager at the RI DOH and oversees the Beach Management Program. On May 11, Sherry discussed this program and how beach closures are decided, as well as the impact of water quality on public health. As we head into the summer season, water quality at beaches becomes increasingly relevant in our daily lives. Watch this talk to learn more about our Rhode Island beaches and how water quality at recreational sites is monitored.

Speaker Organization Affiliations

The Land to Sea Speaker Series was Made Possible By: