RINSING — From an early age, Patrick Scanlon was intrigued by the Flint River watershed and the wildlife that inhabits it.
Now he has the chance to help preserve and promote the river as the new Executive Director of the Flint River Watershed Coalition (FRWC).
Scanlon, a Flushing resident, will manage the day-to-day operations of the Flint River environmental organization, known for its paddleboarding and kayaking offerings and educational and water monitoring programs. He will also lead fundraising programs, strategic partnerships and community engagement initiatives.
Scanlon succeeds Rebecca Fedewa, who left the FRWC in November after more than a decade as executive director.
“As a permanent resident of the watershed, I call the Flint River my home,” he said. “I am delighted to lead the organization known as the Voice of the River and look forward to introducing our beautiful and tenacious watershed to the wider community,”
Doug Schultz, chairman of the FRWC board, said Scanlon’s training as a wildlife biologist, combined with his passion for conserving Michigan’s natural resources, will help advance the organization’s mission. .
“We are delighted to welcome Patrick as our new Executive Director,” Schultz said. “He will bring deep environmental knowledge, enthusiasm and a fresh perspective to our organization. We feel very fortunate that he has accepted the role and look forward to the growth of our organization with him at the helm.
Scanlon, an avid kayaker, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in wildlife biology from the University of Michigan at Flint. While attending M-Flint University, he was introduced to the FRWC and soon began volunteering with the organization.
Today, Scanlon continues to participate in water quality monitoring and special shoreline cleanup events like Stewardship Day in Flushing’s Riverview Park. He has also presented several educational programs on invasive species through the FRWC.
As a child, Scanlon said he would catch insects in nearby ponds and streams and watch them for hours. This fascination led him to study the river’s invertebrate species while in college and gave him a foundation for the hands-on education classes he presents to school children today.
“I get incredible satisfaction when I take a bucket full of critters out of the water and sort them into trays with kids,” he said. “I can see on their faces the same enthusiasm that was instilled in me so many years ago.”
As the coalition’s new executive director, Scanlon said he wanted to help improve the image of the Flint River and showcase its value as a go-to destination for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, wildlife photography and various other recreational activities.
“I have six kayaks and love taking new people on because it’s a really amazing experience to show others this treasure that is often overlooked,” he said. “The river has had a bit of a checkered history when it comes to various human impacts, but it’s still teeming with a wide variety of beautiful wildlife. The river is a source of many types of recreation, so there’s something for almost everyone.
Scanlon most recently served as the Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) Coordinator at the Genesee Conservation District, where he provided invasive species education and awareness in four counties that intersect the river’s watershed. Flint. He also serves on the City of Flushing Parks and Recreation Committee and is a former member of Flushing City Council.
Scanlon will also oversee a busy year for the FRWC as it prepares to move into the former 1st Source Servall Appliance Parts building at 630 W. Kearsley Street in Flint, which sits at the confluence of Swartz Creek and the Flint River. The building and its adjacent properties are being redeveloped to become the new headquarters for the FRWC and its Kayak Flint rental program, which began in 2018.
The project, made possible through funding from the CS Mott Foundation and cooperation with Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, is expected to be completed later this year.