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Honoring our award winning water stewards.

Congratulations to our award recipients this year. Mary McNeil, a volunteer ambassador, earned the Volunteer of the Year award for going above and beyond to support Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper. Margaret Wooster, a founding member of the Friends of the Buffalo River, earned the Mike Hamilton award for her dedication to protecting, preserving, and restoring our waterways.


The Mike Hamilton Award goes to Margaret Wooster.

Margaret was a founding member of the Friends of the Buffalo River, the headwater spring that led to Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper.  In those days (late 1980s), the Friends were all volunteers. They met at the Harbor Inn on Ohio Street, surrounded by grain scoopers, millers and the Malloy family who made the Inn a museum dedicated to Buffalo’s Port history. Margaret started a Watershed Learning Project with middle schools in the region. National Geographic made a film about six North American rivers, The Power of Water, using the Buffalo River Rats and the watershed project as their story of hope.

Ms. Wooster’s first real watershed-based job was as a planner for the Erie and Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board, where she worked with local governments on stream and groundwater protection. She went on to serve for 8 years as the Executive Director of Great Lakes United (or GLU), a bi-national coalition of environmental, labor and indigenous groups dedicated to conserving the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River ecosystem. It was the early days of Great Lakes Remedial Action Planning.  GLU held citizen hearings in the Areas of Concern, brought in science and policy experts, and carried the resulting Great Lakes agenda to Washington DC and Ottawa, beginning a collaboration that eventually led to the Great Lake Restoration Initiative.

Margaret is the author of two books: Living Waters and Somewhere to Go on Sunday, and is working on a third called Meander. She is involved in several local habitat restoration projects, and occasionally teaches a graduate course in ecology-based land use planning at SUNY Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning.


The Volunteer of the Year Award goes to Mary McNeil.

Mary has been part of our team for many years and has seen its many changes. She feels most comfortable outdoors observing and bettering her environment. She has completed the Cornell Master Naturalist Program and uses her skills to educate volunteers at RestoreCorps events and community events. She is also a history buff and helped us lead bike tours in the Niagara National Heritage Area this summer. Mary avidly supports our mission and that is why she is a Volunteer Ambassador.

Mary McNeil — Life requires water; there is so much room to positively impact our waterways… it’s my home and I’d like to help.

Interested in getting involved? Learn about our volunteer opportunities!