STORY 10: Inspiring Leaders and Ideas

The featured guests on episode 10 are the recipients of our 2021 River Commitment Awards. These individuals are exceptional leaders on behalf of the river system who inspire others to get involved to improve and protect it. 

In 2022 we are expanding Inside, Out & About to feature people whose work inspires action and advocacy for the natural world; advancing ideas and strategies of how we can all work together to and improve and protect the river system for people, plants, and animals.

In this episode we speak with: 

  • Matt Renfree, senior program specialist at the Chicago Park District, who discusses how his passion for the river led him to create the innovative River Lab to help kids and families learn about the ecology of the river system. Renfree was named Friends’ 2021 River Champion.
  • Jeff Skrentny, a stewardship leader at LaBagh Woods located on the Upper North Branch of the Chicago River, discusses how his volunteer team reinforced the importance and value of LaBagh Woods as a critical location for migrating birds. We also learn how his team has worked for the last eight years to remove harmful invasive plant species and replace them with nearly 50 species native shrubs. Skrentny is the 2021 Spirit of the River recipient.
  • While not available for a full interview for this full episode, we hear Katherine Tellock, describe in an interview on WBEZ Radio how she was inspired by our annual Chicago River Day event to start Cleanup Club Chicago, a new organization of dedicated volunteers making Chicago cleaner and healthier by picking up litter in public places. Tellock is our 2021 Volunteer of the Year. You can link to Tellock’s full interview on WBEZ here.