–FOR RELEASE ON TUESDAY, JANUARY 26, 9:30 am CST–
Austin Youth River Watch Welcomes Executive Director, Melinda Chow
AUSTIN, TX (January 26, 2016) — Austin Youth River Watch has announced the selection of its new executive director, Melinda Chow, who will assume her role on February 1. Melinda comes from the University of Texas Environmental Science Institute (ESI), where she served as outreach coordinator and manager of its premier program, Hot Science Cool Talks. In this position, Melinda grew the program significantly, produced events with record-breaking attendance, facilitated collaborative relationships with local organizations, and played a major role in implementing ¡Ciencias!, a bilingual science outreach program. Her nonprofit experience spans nearly 15 years and includes local organizations such as Girls Rock Austin and KUT, as well as the South Memphis Alliance in Tennessee, and the National Multicultural Institute in Washington D.C. Melinda holds two bachelor’s degrees in biology and anthropology, and a master’s degree in applied anthropology.
The search for a new executive director began in October with the departure of R. Brent Lyles, who went on to serve as executive director of the Colorado River Alliance. Although the vacancy attracted a number of impressive candidates from across Texas and beyond, the board of directors was pleased to find its best candidate right here in Austin. “We’re excited about Melinda and the vision she brings to River Watch. She has an infectious energy that leaves you inspired and hopeful about the growth of our organization,” stated board member, Laura Stevens, who led the search. Board president, Marc LeFebre, agreed, “Melinda embodies this terrific combination of science academic, communicator and leader, all with a can-do attitude.”
Melinda said she was drawn to the organization because “their mission really speaks to my core interests and passion for empowering young people, particularly the underserved, through hands-on environmental engagement.” She added, “River Watch benefits students in so many ways and has a lot of potential to grow and reach even more kids. I want to make that potential a reality.”
Austin Youth River Watch provides an after-school program for about 120 local high school students, and many of those who participate are considered at risk for dropping out of school. The students learn about environmental science through water-quality testing, and they are provided a network of support for schoolwork and life readiness. The program also includes environmental restoration projects around Austin, as well as overnight camping trips. Nearly 100% of the seniors who participate in the program graduate from high school, and about one-third go on to study or work in a science-related field.
About Austin Youth River Watch
Austin Youth River Watch is a multi-year, after-school and summer program that combines peer mentoring and environmental education for high school students. The students learn to collect, analyze, and publish water-quality data from Austin-area streams and rivers, and report the data to local and statewide agencies. Guided by a volunteer Board of community leaders, the mission of Austin Youth River Watch is to advance personal and academic achievement through environmental monitoring, education, and adventure.
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