Amelia DeVivo is the Program Director with Austin Youth River Watch. Austin Youth River Watch was founded in 1992 and has shaped the past 26 years of young environmental stewards. Amelia and her team transform 120 at-risk high school students’ lives every year through environmental education, community engagement, and adventure. Her passion of environmental mentorship is apparent in her #MyTexasRiver story below.
Additionally, we love all the Instagram photo contest entries so far! Keep your water stories coming, and enter to win using #MyTexasRiver before Dec. 3.
TLW: What is Austin Youth River Watch?
Amelia DeVivo (AD): Austin Youth River Watch is an environmental organization. We work with hands-on environmental science working with at-risk underprivileged youth. We do a lot of different things… everything from water quality testing, to conservation work, to outdoor recreation adventure!
TLW: Why do you think it is important to teach young people environmental science?
AD: I think it’s important to teach environmental science to young people because ultimately our children inherit the earth. So, if we want to create the next group of talented, informed, and well-educated environmental stewards, then they have to be taught.
TLW: What is your favorite thing about this program?
AD: My favorite thing about this program? That’s difficult. There are so many things I truly love, but I think it’s the connections that I get to make with students. I see them engaging in things (whether it’s camping, science, canoeing, or kayaking) that they didn’t think they could do before—that they didn’t think was accessible to them. It really resonates with them and you can see them having fun and enjoying it. I think that’s the best part: to know that every day you are making a difference and that you’re transforming lives.
TLW: How can people get involved?
AD: Other people can get involved with our organization certainly by volunteering. We always have open slots for volunteers to come on out and test water quality with us or go and engage in different kinds of restoration projects. We recently had a rain garden built right here at our office/eco-house base on Plate Ln. We had about 75 different volunteers from the community come out; they donated their time and effort and energy to build this beautiful raingarden, as well as do some other construction projects around the house. We have another event coming up Jan. 21, 2019 for our MLK Buttermilk Creek Restoration Project. The community is always welcome to come on out!
TLW: Any last statements?
AD: When I was getting my Master’s degree at Texas State, one of my professors told me that if you’re interested in environmental education and being outside, the most valuable thing that you can do is take a young person outside. I have clearly taken that to heart. I really think that it is important to facilitate that kind of relationship—those bonds between kids and nature. I just encourage everyone who’s interested in that to do the same.