By Stacie Ball
Betsy Yankowiak has always been a nature advocate, and now, as Director of Preserves and Programs at Little River Wetlands Project (LRWP), she is dedicated to building partnerships to preserve our community for generations to come.
Betsy has armed herself with the knowledge and tools to make her dreams a reality. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geology from Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and recently attained her Graduate Certificate in Fire Ecology, Technology, and Management from the University of Idaho. She is trained in American Red Cross Wilderness First Aid and CPR and is a Wildland Firefighter II, making it possible to use fire as a land management strategy at nature preserves.
Betsy oversees wetland restoration efforts, land management strategies, wetland education programs and volunteer engagement. She also works with landowners who are restoring habitats on their own properties.
She feels the biggest accomplishment of her team is their robust wetland education program. “In normal years, we serve over 10,000 people with free programs where they can learn about how wetlands clean water, store floodwater and provide habitat for wildlife,” she explained.
Betsy attributed many other successes to collaboration with others. One of her proudest moments was the completion of the federal project to build a continental divide, an earthen barrier built to separate the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Watersheds to stop the spread of Asian carp and another 200 aquatic nuisance species.
“There have been dozens of partners from the White House Committee of Environmental Quality to our local agencies and neighboring utilities,” Betsy said.
Project on the horizon include a Wetland Education Pavilion and an accessible trail system at the Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve. Plans are also in the works to produce a compilation of stories from LRWP members, landowners and volunteers to archive the many accomplishments they have made by working together.
“I truly believe that LRWP’s success is our ability to build meaningful partnerships with so many people, non-profits, businesses and schools,” Betsy said. “I feel blessed to be a part of my hometown’s conservation efforts!”
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