Annual Dinner 2016 Round Up

The Prairie Rivers Network staff and board of directors had a wonderful evening visiting with our members and friends at our Annual Dinner on October 21, 2016

Pictures from the Annual Dinner

View more, full size photos at our Flickr site…

Congratulations to our 2016 Award Winners

Each year, we celebrate outstanding river conservationists.

Executive Director Carol Hays with Bruce Colravy, River Steward

Executive Director Carol Hays with 2016 River Steward

River Steward – Bruce Colravy

Bruce Colravy of Mahomet, IL received the River Steward award for his dedication to protecting and promoting the Sangamon River in Central Illinois through his work as co-founder and President of the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy (USRC). Each year, Bruce organizes many activities on the Sangamon, leading citizen science RiverWatch surveys, mussel surveys, clean-up efforts, float trips, and more. Bruce has led efforts to create land and water trails through Mahomet and along the Sangamon River. The USRC is one of the most active watershed groups in the state of Illinois, attracting new members each year in the Champaign County area, and intentionally targeting students from the University of Illinois to be future river stewards and champions.

Outstanding Pubic Servant – Steve Stierwalt

Outstanding Public Servant  Steve Stierwalt with Carol Hays

2016 Outstanding Public Servant with Carol Hays

Steve Stierwalt of Sadorus, Illinois received the Outstanding Public Servant award for his work as Chairman of the Champaign County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD). Under Steve’s leadership, the Champaign County SWCD is playing a key role in advancing practices that preserve soil and protect water quality. Steve was recently elected President of the Association of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts on a platform aimed at providing more effective and broad-reaching technical assistance to meet the changing needs of farmers and help them steward land and water.

Volunteers of the Year with Kim Knowles and Carol Hays

Volunteers of the Year with Kim Knowles and Carol Hays

Volunteer of the Year – Mayor Tyrone Coleman, Richard Grigsby, Sarita Sawyer, Monica Smith, Lindell Warren, and David Willis

This year’s Volunteer of the Year award was presented to a group of outstanding individuals who together have been instrumental in helping Prairie Rivers Network challenge a highly destructive levee project on the Mississippi River. The awardees included Mayor Tyrone Coleman of Cairo, IL; Richard Grigsby of Mounds, IL; Sarita Sawyer of Mounds, IL; Monica Smith of Cairo, IL; Lindell Warren of Olive Branch, IL; and David Willis of Olive Branch, IL for their work in opposing a project that would destroy invaluable wetlands and put their communities at risk of catastrophic flooding. The group offered their images and stories for use in a PRN video series, made personal appeals to lawmakers, travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with federal agencies and senators, wrote letters to the editor and opinion pieces, and recruited others like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and local mayors to call for an end to the project. Their voices were instrumental in raising awareness of the potential devastation of this project with key decision makers.

Keynote Speaker – George Hawkins

The evening’s keynote speaker was George Hawkins, General Manager and Chief Executive Officer of DC Water. Not only does Mr. Hawkins provide clean water to the residents of our nation’s capitol, he is also one of the nation’s best communicators on the future of water and how we can meet the needs of a growing population, delivering clean, safe, and reliable water to all Americans. We were very pleased to bring such a powerful storyteller to our friends at the Dinner.

George passionately described the great strides that we’ve made in cleaning up America’s waters since the passage of the Clean Water Act. We’ve gone from rivers that caught fire to rivers that support a renewed abundance of fish and wildlife. But he also urged us to recognize the urgent need to develop and deploy new tools and methods if we are to keep improving our water quality. We keep attempting to replicate past successes, while not devoting enough resources to emerging threats. Too often we turn to urban areas and municipalities and ask financially struggling citizens to bear the substantial costs of marginal improvements in water quality from treatment plants. Meanwhile, unregulated pollution is pouring into our waters from agricultural runoff and rural areas. George described how we must turn our eyes to the next chapter of water quality improvements and explained how community-focused organizations like Prairie Rivers Network are right at the forefront of that battle, and in the best position to deliver future successes.

Business Sponsors

Prairie Rivers Network thanks all for our business sponsors for their donations and helping to make our community a better place to live.

Platinum $5,000+




Gold $1,000+


Champaign Surplus
UpClose Marketing and Printing
Fox Development Corporation
Robeson Benefit Fund Logo




Silver $500


blue moon farm



Bronze $250




Adickes Creative Services

Silent Auction Donors

Karen Carney

Beth Engelbrecht-Wiggans

Deborah Fell Art Quilts

Carol Hays

Rob Kanter

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Chris Main Photography

John Marlin

Jean and Durango Mendoza

Neutral Cycle

Derek Pankau

Della Perrone

Beverly Rauchfuss

Salt Fork River Runners

Tom Smith

The Station Theatre

The Upper Bout

Carol Wock


Would you like to sponsor Prairie Rivers Network?

Prairie Rivers Network invites you to support clean water and healthy rivers by becoming a business member of Prairie Rivers Network. Business sponsors can be recognized at our Annual Dinner and Illinois Marathon – Run/Walk for Clean Water – charity running team.

For more information, please view our Business Sponsor Form, or contact Vickie Nudelman at 217.344.2371 or vnudelman [at]