Blue Thumb Receives Golden Paddle Award

(From left) Delia Haak, executive director of the Illinois River Watershed Partnership, presented Cheryl Cheadle and Jean Lemmon of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Blue Thumb water pollution education program with the 2010 “Golden Paddle Award” for conservation.  

The Oklahoma Conservation Commission’s Blue Thumb Program received the Golden Paddle Award from the Illinois River Watershed Partnership. IWRP presented the award to the Blue Thumb water education program on Nov. 9 at its annual Stakeholders Meeting in Springdale, Ark. 

Delia Haak, executive director of the IRWP, explained that six awards are given annually to individuals or entities that exemplify “good stewardship in the protection, preservation, and enhancement of the water quality and wildlife habitat in the Illinois River watershed in Arkansas and Oklahoma.” The Blue Thumb Program received the conservation category Golden Paddle. Currently, Blue Thumb volunteers monitor eight stream sites in the Oklahoma portion of the watershed.

Blue Thumb coordinator Cheryl Cheadle said “We have very dedicated volunteers at work in the Illinois River watershed.  Without these volunteers, and Jean Lemmon, who takes a leadership in this part of the state for Blue Thumb, we could not have a strong monitoring and education effort.”  Cheadle said that recent work in the watershed included:

  • Stream education events for Northeastern State University education students and Tahlequah Alternative High School students
  • Macroinvertebrate and fish collections over the summer and
  • Educational activities during the recent Illinois RiverFest