Linda Green became the first female soil scientist in the state of Pennsylvania after graduating from URI in the 1970s. But the backbreaking work of digging holes in the state’s clay soils convinced her to return to URI, where she eventually took a job in the lab of Professor Art Gold, who was helping create what became Watershed Watch, a volunteer water quality monitoring program that Green would lead for the next 28 years. She admits she knew nothing about monitoring water quality when she took the job, but today she is a national leader on the subject.
Green and colleague Elizabeth Herron have recruited, trained and mentored more than 1,200 volunteers through the years to monitor the water quality in more than 200 lakes, ponds, streams, harbors and bays in Rhode Island. The water quality information collected by the volunteers is used by conservation organizations, policy makers, regulators and state and local officials to make decisions that improve and protect the health of local waters.
But Linda’s influence is felt far beyond Rhode Island’s borders. As the leader of one of the first volunteer water quality monitoring programs in the country, she has provided guidance to numerous other organizations initiating similar programs throughout the United States, as well as in Puerto Rico. For her role in advancing scientific knowledge and enhancing public awareness about Rhode Island’s freshwater ecosystems, she was honored this fall with the Distinguished Naturalist Award from the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, the organization’s highest distinction.