Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s Flagship Environmental Organization

November 16, 2010

In 1966, folk music legend and environmental activist Pete Seeger, in despair over the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, announced plans to build a boat to save the river. At the time, the Hudson was rank with raw sewage, toxic chemicals and oil pollution; fish had disappeared over many miles of its length. Seeger believed a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river, where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it. Inspired by that vision, the 106-feet-long sloop Clearwater was built and launched in 1969. The sloop was among the first vessels in the U.S. to conduct science based environmental education aboard a sailing ship, virtually creating the template by which such programs are conducted around the world today.

Since the launch of the Clearwater, more than half a million young people and hundreds of thousands of adults have experienced their first real look at fish, invertebrates, water chemistry and ecological principals, aboard the sloop. Clearwater’s environmental education programs now serve more than 15,000 students annually, and the organization also educates over 200 teachers each year.

Today, Clearwater is partnering with schools and community leaders to raise the bar of environmental education again, realizing that this time the health of the Hudson River must go hand in hand with creating a sustainable world of green jobs in a green economy. Each summer, Clearwater re connects Hudson Valley residents with their cultural heritage and traditions by bringing them down to the river for the Great Hudson River Revival, the country’s oldest music and environmental festival. The organization and its local sloop clubs also sponsor smaller local riverfront festivals throughout the year. Clearwater’s unique approach to public outreach has made the Clearwater a symbol of grassroots action through hands on learning, music and celebration.

 

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