“We Speak For The Rivers”
- Photo Courtesy of Elle Bassett
- Photo Courtesy of Elle Bassett
“I strongly believe I wouldn’t be the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper today if I never participated in the Chesapeake Semester.”
Elle Basset, a 2012 graduate of Washington College, has been named the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper with ShoreRivers after having multiple years of experience in the Chesapeake Bay area.
In her position, she said she serves as the “Lorax” of the Chesapeake Bay watershed by voicing advocacy for restoration and monitoring water quality in the Chesapeake Bay watershed area.
“We [Riverkeepers] speak for the rivers. My goal is to be an uncompromising voice for the Miles and Wye Rivers and Eastern Bay. I also intend to maintain a presence in local school systems through our continuing education program Students for Streams. I want to inspire our community to care for and protect their local waterways,” she said.
Bassett attributes much of her success in the field of environmental science and education to WC’s Chesapeake Semester Program.
Growing up along the South River in Annapolis, she always loved the adventure she could find outside. Although her initial academic interests were not in ecology or Chesapeake studies, Bassett was intrigued by her first ecology class as a first-year student. Her newly acquired interest in Chesapeake studies paired seamlessly with WC’s relatively new Chesapeake Semester program, a full semester off-campus that allows students to fully engage in the interdisciplinary study of the nation’s largest estuary.
After graduating from WC, Bassett completed a one-year internship with the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (now ShoreRivers) and helped develop Students for Streams, an educational program targeted towards schools in the surrounding area. The program has been implemented in every public high school in three counties on the Eastern Shore so far.
“I realized after graduation that in order to secure the future of clean water in our local rivers, the next generation had to know and love the rivers like I do,” she said.
After completing the internship with ShoreRivers, Bassett earned her master’s degree in environmental education at the University of Concordia, Portland and continued her work with ShoreRivers until the Riverkeeper position became available.
Reflecting on her time at WC, Bassett said, “The Chesapeake Semester opened my eyes to what is behind the curtain of a resource I always loved – the Chesapeake. It helped me realize just how many stakeholders, stories, and efforts there are surrounding the Bay.”
During Chesapeake Semester, students are exposed to and work with Riverkeepers in the surrounding area and local Conservancies. The connections that WC students make with people already working in the field facilitates networking that can lead to future job opportunities. Bassett said, “When I was about to graduate from WC, it was easy for me to reach out to him about a job opportunity working with him from our prior interactions. I strongly believe I wouldn’t be the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper today if I never participated in the Chesapeake Semester.”
Learn more about the Washington College Chesapeake Semester.
Sophie Grabiec ’20