Water Sentinel Lee Dew Wins Lifetime Achievement Award
At its annual Earth Day awards event this year, the Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission presented longtime Sierra Club activist and Water Sentinel Lee Dew, above at center, with its 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award.
A retired history professor and local historian, Dew has been deeply involved with conservation issues since the 1960s. He helped spur recycling in Owensboro, where he lives, organized the Tradewater/Lower Green River Watershed Watch program, and worked both as a volunteer and staffer for the Water Sentinels.
"Lee was an original Water Sentinel when the program started in 2001," says Water Sentinels national director Scott Dye. "He 'retired' in 2008 at age 77, but Lee will never really retire until God calls him home."
Below, Lee and his wife Aloma, also a Kentucky Water Sentinels activist, in front of a giant pile of illegally dumped chicken manure. For years the two have led "Tours de Stench" of factory farm country in western Kentucky to call attention to the pitfalls of industrial-scale agriculture.
"One of our revolutionary ancestors wrote, about the instigators of the revolution—the people who signed the Declaration of Independence—that 'to this force we pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,'" Dew says. "I think environmentalists take a similar kind of oath. We pledge our time, our energies, and our money to do what we can—not for us, but for our grandchildren and for the world of the late 21st century; a world which we hope will be better than the world we have now.
"We have to have that faith. We have to have that energy. We have to have that commitment. Everybody who can go out and do something active for the environment needs to be mobilized. Even for those who can only write a check, they become heroes. And that check becomes a victory for the future—for our grandkids. That's why I do what I do."