Membership Drive

Becoming a member of ORK allows us to continue the important work of testing water quality, sharing stories from the watershed, fighting legal battles, providing recreational guidance, and coordinating cleanup efforts in our 5,500 square-mile territory across 22 Georgia countries.

Anyone who becomes an automatically renewing member in the month of April will be entered in a drawing to win one of the following items:

  • Salt Marsh By Land & Sea Wilderness Southeast (WiSE) trip
    • The WiSE discovery trips include expert naturalist guides, logistics, and equipment to illuminate the magic of the Low Country and encourage lifelong stewardship.
  • A customized river outing with Damon Mullis, Ogeechee Riverkeeper
    • Damon will organize a personalized, guided outing on the river for up to two people.
  • “The Never Believers” by Raven Waters
    • Original painting of a pair of barn owls. 16″ x 20″ oil on canvas. Unframed.

Make a monthly, recurring donation|Become an annual member


In addition to the various members-only perks, adding your name to our membership list is critical to our legislative efforts and grant applications. Having a strong team behind us shows that our constituents support our work.

Despite the limitations of the pandemic, ORK has successfully:

Riverkeeper Damon Mullis collects samples.

 Please consider becoming a member, for any amount, today. ORK has options for automatically recurring monthly or annual giving as well as one-time donations and corporate sponsorships.

In a year when ORK has not been able to hold fundraising events or participate at environmental gatherings, your financial contribution is critical to ORK’s continued success. If you are already a member, thank you for your support.

ORK is also acutely aware that some may not be able to give at this time. There are many ways to support ORK through advocacy, volunteering and engagement. It takes efforts on many fronts to maintain the successes of our organization.

Not sure what your membership status is? Send us an email and we’ll be happy to look you up in the database.


ORK is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a Platinum Star rating from Guidestar and is able to accept donations from donor-advised funds. Please contact staff for more information.

RELEASE: Ogeechee Riverkeeper partners with Green Truck Pub for Earth Day

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
03/15/21

Ogeechee Riverkeeper
Contact: Meaghan Gerard
Communications and Administrative Director
meaghan@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org

Green Truck Pub
Contact: Whitney Shephard Yates, Co-owner
912-234-5885
greentruckevents@gmail.com

OGEECHEE RIVERKEEPER PARTNERS WITH GREEN TRUCK PUB FOR EARTH DAY
Event will showcase a new interactive map and burger special

Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) is partnering with Green Truck Pub (GTP) on Thursday, April 22, 2021, in the parking lot of GTP, 2430 Habersham St. The event will be held from 5-9 p.m. and feature a live outdoor projection of a new interactive map of the Ogeechee River basin. GTP will offer a new burger special highlighting the celebration. 

Members of ORK staff will be on-hand to answer questions, assist with memberships, and demonstrate the new StoryMap. Using ArcGIS technology, the web-based platform integrates data, narrative, maps, and graphics to tell the story of the Ogeechee River basin and the Riverkeeper organization. The result is an interactive experience for the user. 

“We are in awe of the commitment of Ogeechee Riverkeeper to protect our shared river basin. Most of Chatham County thinks of the Savannah River, but in reality 76% of the county is in the Ogeechee watershed. Whether you’re paddling, drinking clean water, or appreciating the deep heritage, the river is a tremendous resource to our community and upstream communities alike. Green Truck has enjoyed a long partnership with ORK, and the StoryMap viewing is a fun way to showcase all of the good that ORK is doing.” 

ORK and GTP are committed to maintaining the highest COVID-19 safety protocols. This is an outdoor, ‘drop by’ event only. Guests are encouraged to visit the ORK tent while picking up a to-go order from GTP.  

The event is part of Earth Day Savannah Month (earthdaysavannah.org) and guests are encouraged to view their master calendar for other virtual or small outdoor events during the month of April. 

About Ogeechee Riverkeeper: Ogeechee Riverkeeper 501(c)(3) works to protect, preserve, and improve the water quality of the Ogeechee River basin, which includes all of the streams flowing out to Ossabaw Sound and St. Catherine’s Sound. At 245 miles long, the Ogeechee River system drains more than 5,000 square miles of land across 22 Georgia counties. More at ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

About Green Truck Pub: Locally-owned, Green Truck Pub features coastal Georgia farmers and American craft brewers. We do simple food the hard way, from scratch, with love, every day. We are proud to be Savannah’s grass-fed burger joint, ten years and counting. www.greentruckpub.com.

Birding Basics

Do you want to learn about birds but don’t know where to start? Do you often see or hear birds but don’t know how to identify them? Are you looking for a safe, different outdoor activity?

More than just pretty animals, birds are an important part of the ecological system, including the Ogeechee River basin. Various species inhabit different layers of the food web — from birds that eat seeds and insects to the most expert hunting predators. They keep populations in check. They also help spread seeds and pollen which is vital for plant growth. Maintaining a healthy environment for birds to thrive is crucial to the balance of ecosystems locally and globally.

Red-shouldered hawk. Photo by Chris S. Wood, Macauley Library

What is “birding”? 

Birding is the act of birdwatching for either recreational, research or citizen science reporting purposes. Also known as ‘birdwatching,’ it’s the observation of birds in their natural habitats as a hobby or an amateur activity.

Wood Storks. Photo by Mary Ellen Urbanski. Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge

I see birds all the time, but I don’t know what I’m looking at. 

Learn what to look or listen for when birding starting with color, shape, flight pattern, body size, bill or beak shape, calls and more. 

Check out these sites for bird guides. 

Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Birdwatcher’s Digest

Rare birds in our watershed

Northern parula on red twig. Photo by Dan Fein.

I’m enjoying this. How can I get better?

Consider purchasing a pair of binoculars (aka “bins”) and searching out local birding trails or sites. You might also join a local chapter of the Audubon Society, an organization dedicated to protecting birds and sharing resources for enthusiasts.

Audubon Society

Ogeechee Audubon Society

Coastal Georgia Audubon Society

Georgia Audubon Society

Birding trails in Georgia

Always follow the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics

American Goldfinch. Photo by Adam Jackson, Macauley Library.

I want to share some of the amazing things I’ve seen. Is there a way to do that?

Engage in citizen science. Download the eBird app for free. It’s a digital way to keep track of the birds you see or hear while birding. This type of citizen science reporting — the collection of scientific data by amateur scientists — benefits the people participating as well as researchers.

Read about Isaiah Scott, birding enthusiast and local student

Adult male Barn Owl. Photo by Shlomo Neuman, Audubon Photography Awards

ORK Birding Activity

  • Plan a birding trip in your backyard or neighborhood park, near a waterway or in a city greenspace.
  • Download eBird and record what you see/hear. If you aren’t sure how to ID a certain bird, you can search through the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website by characteristics. 
  • Share your checklists with Ogeechee Riverkeeper through eBird by searching “Ogeechee Riverkeeper” or via ORK’s eBird profile

You may also share your findings and photos through email at info@ogeecheeriverkeeper.org.

Tag us on social media with your research adventures and use #ORKOutside.


Additional Resources:

This activity is compatible with Project Wild “Bird Song Survey” activity which is geared towards middle and high school students in science and environmental education. Birding in general can be a fun family/friends outing for all ages, abilities, and environments. 


 

Dr. Sue Ebanks

Sue Ebanks, Ph.D.,  is a local through and through. She grew up on these rivers, creeks, marshes, and beaches. Her father took his kids shrimping and crabbing and fishing from an early age. While attending Jenkins High School, she and her best friend started a marine biology club so they could explore the estuaries. 

She wants young people to engage in their environment, like she did. “We live in an amazing coastal environment but most just drive by it. They don’t understand our dynamic with it.” And it would be a meandering path to lead her back home to her beloved lowcountry.

A couple of weeks after graduating from Savannah State University (SSU) with a double major in marine and environmental sciences, she went to Japan for three years. Her husband, a graduate of the NROTC program, received his orders to serve there as a meteorologist for ships at sea. Ebanks did lots of exploring, learned Japanese, taught English but knew she needed to go back to school to really study the environment like she wanted to. 

The young family returned to Savannah and they both earned master’s degrees in marine science at SSU. Then came the step of finding a doctoral program. “It’s a huge commitment and it’s really hard to find the right fit,” Ebanks says. “You have to find someone researching what you want to study.” She found a project at University of Miami studying the biology of freshwater snails and the contaminants in them.  “They form their shells from the material around them, including calcium, which [to the snails] can look chemically similar to contaminants, like lead.”

Ebanks shows a graduate student how to prepare testing equipment.

When asked about being a person of color in a predominantly white field, “I was really fortunate,” she recalls. “I was so busy, I didn’t really notice it, but I have heard about the negative experiences. I wonder how many students I might have had, that have been lost along the way, because they were discouraged.” 

 As an associate professor of marine and environmental sciences at her alma mater she is continuing to study how things like the waste products of combustion effect the ecosystem. Ebanks and her students have looked at seastar wasting, a spiny lobster virus, and now microplastic pollution. And she makes sure they know their voices are important. “The more angles there are, the more likely we can find a solution. Sustainability can’t only be legislated. We have to change hearts and minds.” 


This is the fourth in a series of posts about Black environmentalists. Read the previous stories of Colonel Charles Young, the Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor, and Isaiah Scott.

Isaiah Scott

Isaiah Scott can’t pinpoint exactly when he first became enamored with nature. He grew up in the Savannah area and spent plenty of time outside and playing in the backyard. Like most kids, he was really into nature books, especially ones about dinosaurs. But he does recall when he first became interested in birds.

The family was taking his older brother to visit Cornell and Scott saw a brochure for their Lab of Ornithology. He insisted they visit and it was transformative for him. “I got my first pair of binoculars from their gift shop. I had the best time birding that day.” He was 13. Now with a successful bird art business and sponsored deals, he’s set to head off to Cornell himself in the fall.

 

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A post shared by Isaiah scott (@ikesbirdinghikes)

“Birding helped me find my identity,” Scott says. “I found a fiery passion.” Yet Scott was keenly aware that he wasn’t your typical birder – he was barely in high school and he was a young Black man. “At first, it didn’t feel normal for Black youth, but then I realized it made me feel unique and I wanted to be a leader in the field. And when I learned about Dr. J. Drew Lanham, that inspired me to keep going.” 

Scott found a community of birders online and connected with enthusiasts from around the world. They traded photos of rare birds and tips for finding unusual species. They also created a network of support and encouraged one another. If Scott started out with the sense he was alone in his interest, those days are over. “The outdoors belong to everyone,” he says. “There’s a whole movement and I’m almost overwhelmed.”

He has also turned his love of birds into a bit of a cottage industry. A self-taught artist, he paints realistic images onto leather bags and notecard sets. He even sold one to his hero Dr. Lanham. “I was just drawing in class one day and a teacher said I should try a wood duck. That was when people saw what I could do.”

 

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A post shared by Isaiah Scott (@therookerycollection)

Scott is the 2021 recipient of the Eckelberry Fellowship from Drexel University, a project fund that will allow him to further research the Gullah-Geechee connection to the land. His aim is to publish a birding field guide using Gullah-Geechee language, terms, and knowledge. He cites the example of the bobolinks which would stop to feed on plantations, being known as ‘rice birds’ to the enslaved people. “I also want to visit Barbados and track the movement of the enslaved people and see how they connected nature in these areas.” The grant will be administered by Ogeechee Aubudon

As he gets ready to head up to Ithaca, he’s decided to major in environment and sustainability. It’s my lifestyle and I always have the mindset to conserve and protect the environment.” And, of course, he’ll spend plenty of time at the Ornithology lab.


This is the third in a series of posts about Black environmentalists. Read the stories of  the Colonel Charles Young, Gullah-Geechee Heritage Corridor, and Dr. Sue Ebanks.