Friends Presents Three Awards for Extraordinary Commitment to the Chicago River

On April 16, Friends of the Chicago River honored Tony Watrobinski, Col. Fredric A. Drummond Jr., and Matt Kauth with its 2013 River Commitment Awards.  These awards recognize the extraordinary efforts of the recipients to aide in the protection and improvement of the Chicago River.  

Tony Watrobinski received the 2013 Spirit of the River Award—given to the person whose work, both personal and professional, most embodies the spirit of the river.  Tony has served as a site captain for Chicago River Day for over 15 years. Friends chose to honor Mr. Watrobinski for his years of passion and commitment to improve the Chicago River through his work to organize the Gompers Park site for Friends of the Chicago River’s largest annual volunteer event—Chicago River Day, his help with additional cooperate work days, and his work within the Chicago River community.

Colonel Fredric A. Drummond Jr. received the 2013 River Champion Award.  Friends bestows this award on its recipient for extraordinary efforts and leadership by an individual working on behalf of an organization.  Col. Drummond is Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago Division.  He received this award for his leadership with the Army Corps and their efforts and commitment to restore and improve the Chicago River.  Friends specifically recognized Col. Drummonds’ leadership to work with communities on stormwater management and streambank restoration projects that will make the Chicago River more accessible to people, hospitable to wildlife, and conducive for natural vegetation.    

Friends also recognized Matt Kauth as their 2013 Volunteer of the Year—given for extraordinary volunteer efforts on behalf of the individual to improve and protect the Chicago River system.  Mr. Kauth received this award for his extraordinary efforts and commitment to the Friends’ Gullywalking project, which trained volunteers to find, measure, and document gullies along the Chicago River.  Gullies come from poorly managed rainwater that washes soil and debris into the river damaging our landscape and waterways.  Mr. Kauth’s efforts went above and beyond his initial commitment and showed a pledge to exposing more people to the magic of the Chicago River.

“These awards show the passion and commitment that exists for conservation along the Chicago River,” said Friends’ executive director Margaret Frisbie, “these individuals exemplify our mission at Friends to make the river a better place for the people, plants, and animals who call it home.”

Friends of the Chicago River has recognized individuals with its River Commitment Awards since 1992 to highlight the innumerable ways people make a difference in the Chicago River system every day.