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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Lake Champlain International (LCI)

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Water, Water Resources, Wetlands Conservation & Management

Mission: Lake Champlain International, Inc. (LCI) is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation actively involved in shaping the future of Lake Champlain's water quality and fisheries. Its mission is the conservation, restoration, and revitalization of Lake Champlain and its watershed. LCI educates, advocates, and motivates to ensure that Lake Champlain is swimmable, drinkable, and fishable.

Target demographics: Those of all ages who enjoy, appreciate, stand in awe of, and love Lake Champlain and the communities and life it supports

Direct beneficiaries per year: 230,000

Geographic areas served: Lake Champlain Basin within Vermont, New York, and Quebec

Programs: Be A Champ Campaign, Imagine Eco Kids Contests, Coalition to Restore the Missisquoi River, Sea Lamprey Control Education, BLUE--residential water pollution abatement program, LCI Father's Day Fishing Derby, Lake Champlain Fisheries Creel Survey, After School Fishing Clubs, Fishing For Friends Mentoring Initiative, Wastewater and Drinking Water Infrastructure Awareness, Lake Champlain Salmon Restoration, Public Access Campaign, and Stormwater Education

Community Stories

113 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

The BLUE program managed by Juliana Dixon provided a great service is doing a stormwater run off assessment of our lot and house (as well as for several of our neighbors) and provided us with a set of reasonable options for reducing our impact in Burlington. The small rebate program was handled very smoothly. The educational materials were well designed and useful. It is really satisfying to see our porous driveway not contributing to the torrent that runs down our street in a heavy rain.

Chas H.

Client Served

Rating: 4

Juliana Dixon from LCI came to Otter Valley High School today to speak to my class about protecting our watershed. She did a fantastic job and gave us some great information about how we can do little things on our own properties to help lessen the run off and pollution in the Lake Champlain watershed. She did a great job and I would definitely recommend her to any educators looking to bring in an expert on this subject

Robert Q.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

There is an epidemic in this nation that occurs everywhere fresh water exists. Blue/Green algae ! It is unsightly, foul smelling , deadly to some animals and liked to serious health conditions in humans exposed to it.
Not too many years ago , shortage of oil was considered the biggest threat to this planet. I submit that the shortage of clean water is a far greater threat. However, people in general and politicians in particular, seem unaware of this threat.
Lake Champlain is contained between two states ( VT&NY) and the Province of Quebec. You could travel from New York City to Montreal via Lake Champain and it's tributaries. A trip from Buffalo, NY to Montreal is also using water to water connections involving Lake Champlain. The lake's natural beauty and recognition as a world class fishery make it a major tourist attraction and economic benefactor to its contingent land masses.
Lake Champlain International (LCI) has launched a massive program to increase the awareness of the water's threat. The LCI Fathers Day Weekend Derby, which just turned 36 years old, is the oldest and largest fishing deby in the nation. This gives an opportunity to expose the challenges to clean water to a large group of people (5,000+ many years. There is constant contact with state and federal elected and appointed officials. A gubernatorial debate among 5 candidates on the single subject of clean water was orchestrated by LCI. Websites, social media, speeches, educational programs for schools regarding clean , water and candlelight vigils on the lake shore are a sample of the thrust of increasing awareness of clean water. Hopefully, that increase in awareness in the general public will spur a demand of clean water from elected and appointed officials.

Client Served

Rating: 5

James Ehlers and Juliana Dixon have come to present at Rutland High School's annual Global Issues Network conference every year for the last four years. They are both knowledgable and passionate, and are able to communicate their knowledge and passion to students. Their presentations have consistently been among those with the highest attendance and have been well-reviewed by students and adults who have attended. We look forward to working with them again in the future.

Client Served

Rating: 4

Juliana Dixon came to my school this spring to talk about Lake Champlain and water quality. She spoke to 4th, 5th, and 6th Graders. It was a great experience for us. It tied into our studies on ecosystem interdependence and really gave students some ideas to think about. Juliana herself was engaging with the students and had a presentation that kept them interested with hands-on activities to really bring to live the ideas she was presenting about run-off. She also struck a perfect balance between doom and gloom and what kids and their families can do. My students left the class cautiously optimistic, knowing that Lake Champlain is facing some major health challenges, and that some of them are due to actions that are specific to their own families or communities. I look forward to building on the discussion this presentation started at our school.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I love fishing the Lci! It gives me time to get out there with the family and catch fish. Here's one we entered last year.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LCI's mission is crucial for the state and the region: To protect our lake and our water. Without clean water nothing else is possible. LCI does a great job.

Donor

Rating: 5

A huge part of why we live in Burlington is because of the lake....we play in and on it all summer long, and gaze at it longingly in the winter. We've been looking for an organization who we feel is really working hard to clean up Lake Champlain and try to preserve it for future generations. We think we've found it with LCI.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LCI is a great organization. I've been lucky enough to work with them as a student intern and it has been a very rewarding experience getting to meet so many wonderful people and do our part to help protect the lake!

Donor

Rating: 5

Amazing group of very dedicated people. We are so lucky to have this organization in VT!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Some of my greatest childhood meomories come from this beautiful place. Can't wait to make some with my kids.

Donor

Rating: 5

Years ago, my three-year-old son stood for the first time on the shoreline of Lake Champlain and informed us all that "this is an ocean". His older sister immediately corrected him, explained that, no,this was a lake,, "the largest lake" she said "in the entire world".

Standing nearby was a young guy in cargo jeans who walked over to us and began chatting with my kids. He started talking about the Lake, about what was special about it, about how important it was for all of us. They asked some questions and I was amazed, both at this knowledge and his patience with my kids. He told them that he worked with some people who were trying to make Lake Champlain even better, even cleaner, even more fun for everyone. His name, he told us, was James.

And so now, all these years later, I see a photograph taken a week ago...it’s this very same fellow, James Ethlers, and he is sitting in Senator Bernie Sanders Office. They are talking about clean water... and another photo from a few hours later, James talking with Senator Pat Leahy. About clean water.

In fact, now that we have found him again, we see that he is everywhere working for an organization called Lake Champlain International...and doing what he did for my kids so many years ago..telling them about how to make Lake Champlain even better, even cleaner, even more fun for everyone. He is, I learn, the Executive Director for LCI. He is at the Statehouse, at elementary schools, busy providing articles for newspapers, talking on his radio program, defending clean water on social media, rallying, demonstrating. And working with staff to produce media of all types for the rest of us to use. Wed site and Facebook Page, gather Twitter followers, and on and on and on.

Oh, and he has many followers, this fellow James Ethlers. And many converts. One of his first converts, I happen to know, used to think that Lake Champlain was an ocean. But now, as a student at Saint Michael’s College, studying the Environmental Science, he knows better.

Imagine that...a young guy talks on a lakeshore with a couple of little kids...and something incredible happens.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a grassroots organizer for a national conservation group, I appreciate the collaboration with the Lake Champlain International community. Their outreach with the sportsmen community is a key asset in our campaigns to protect natural resources. Furthermore, their bold advocacy efforts are essential ingredients countering the attack on environmental policy.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LCI represents many Vermonters and pushes for clean water. They are an advocate group that works educating the public about city and town polluters within the state and identifies those incidents. They also pressure towns / cities / state government to improve the water quality and challenges them to raise the bar with improvements to the infrastructure. They also work trying to make farms accountable for fertilizer / manure run-off with videos of those incidents to show people where those sources occur. There goal is for a cleaner Lake Champlain and inland lakes and streams in Vermont / NY / Quebec.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LCI is the leader in our area on keeping our land and water safe and drinkable. They go above and beyond for our community. Their endless efforts are result to many great things here in VT.
Thank you LCI for all you do and have done for our great earth.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

LCI has a very difficult Job, and the people on this team absolutely go above and beyond for our benefit. I thoroughly enjoy my experiences with their events and look forward to continuing attending. My friends and family are long time participants. Thank you for taking care of our basin.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for LCI since November, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity. Juliana has been so patient and helpful to me, and everyone in the office always makes me feel welcome and appreciated. I'm inspired by their tireless dedication to clean water and proud to be a part of the organization!

1 Lynn110

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LCI works very hard to clean up Lake Champlain for the environment's sake and for the sake of all who live near, work near or on, and use our lake for recreational purposes. It supplies drinking water to thousands of people who live near it. Lake Champlain supports a variety of wildlife in and near it. It is vital that we support LCI in helping them to clean up areas of the lake and get legislation passed so that polluters will stop and would-be polluters will think before dumping toxins into our precious and fragile water.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

No one works harder at ensuring that we focus on clean water. Lake Champlain is our most important asset, and it seems that Lake Champlain International is the only organization that is fighting to keep it clean! Thanks for all that you do!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been a Let's Go Fishing Instructor for many years now and have recently started working with James and his staff at LCI with The Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, The King Street Center and Spectrum Youth and Family Services. We had an event this past summer where the kids visited a fish hatchery and fished for several hours and then learned how to clean and prepare their catch followed by a picnic where the some of the kids had fresh fish for the first time. The second event, The Lake Supper, was just a few weeks ago where the kids helped me prepare several different dishes all consisting of fish from Lake Champlain. The dinner was well attended and the kids worked hard showing a genuine interest in the food itself and the fact that it all came from Lake Champlain.

I work with volunteer groups all over the country and these events are two of the most special and rewarding things I have ever done as a volunteer, angler or chef. I look forward to continuing this relationship with The LCI and helping to educate the kids of these groups and others on the waters and fish of Lake Champlain.

Jimmy Kennedy

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been an instructor with The Let's Go Fishing Program for many, many years now and it's one of the most rewarding programs I've ever been associated with. The educational efforts by this program and the LCI in general are second to none. As an angler and Vermont resident, I feel very fortunate to have the LCI as a teacher, protector and advocate for Lake Champlain and I look forward being involved with them for a long time.

Jimmy Kennedy

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our school recently hosted a visit by James E. He was speaking to a group of fifth and sixth graders about water safety and quality. He was engaging, informative and well prepared for his presentation. James made a nice connection with our students.

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am a sponsor, volunteer and board member of Lake Champlain International.
Three years ago I found out how much more than a fishing tournament, LCI is.
After meeting James Ehlers, the executive director, I immediately knew that getting involved with this non profit was part of my calling. Funded entirely by donations and grants, LCI does incredible advocacy for a swimmable, drinkable and fishable Lake Champlain. Tireless efforts at public education and legislative reforms are what LCI does to promote and insure the improved health of our beloved lake and it's tributaries. I have personally seen this progress, especially at the statehouse, with many legislative reforms all designed to insure better water quality for Vermont.
When I think about it, there is no one single effort that benefits everyone that clean water.
Keep up the good work!

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

James Ehlers from Lake Champlain International was a guest speaker at our 2016 Global Issues Network Conference at Rutland High School. Students who attended his presentation called it "interesting" and "informative". One student said, "I like the way he connected it to local issues. Like if we do something in Rutland, it can affect the water quality someplace else." Others liked the fact that he emphasized how students as individuals can help improve water quality.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering at LCI for the past few months, and I am impressed by the work of this organization. I recently volunteered at a supper for youth in Burlington, and I was touched by the joy these children and youth experienced. I work in education and one of my beliefs is that the best way to learn is to do, and that is precisely what the children did. Many of them worked with the chef, Jimmy, to prepare the food which was mainly local fish. Not only is this organization dedicated to the welfare of the lake but also to that of the community. A homeless youth was offered a job by one of the attendees of the event because of his ability to follow direction, confidence, willingness to learn, confidence, and attitude in general. I thought that was wonderful. I'm glad to be a part of this organization.

trevien

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Trevien Stanger, and I am writing today to enthusiastically report on my class’s experience have James Elhers of Lake Champlain International speak for us on a recent Thursday morning. I teach an “Introduction to Environmental Science” course at the Community College of Vermont (CCV) here in Winooski, and we’ve been spending the last couple of weeks wading through the science, policy, and ethics associated with clean water here in the Champlain Basin. We’ve done water testing in the river, read over the “State of the Lake Report,” examined case studies from other impaired watersheds, and have taken the time to closely look at our own “water foot-prints.” However, I could tell that an element was missing in our studies–– namely a sense of true, impassioned engagement, and I’m happy to say that James provided us with this and much more.

Over the course of our hour together, James provided students with a strong, coherent, entertaining narrative of why Lake Champlain is impaired–– he walked us through the science of algae blooms, the interconnectivity of watersheds, and the chemistry of human waste systems. However, it was in pivoting to the policy problems and opportunities that James started to bristle with passion and fire, and you could see the students respond. By revealing the economic and personal impacts these water issues are having on real people in the Basin, James helped transform this at-times abstract information into the ongoing, real-time problem that it is. In discussing how much of the policy around food, development, and urban infrastructure impacts our watershed, James demonstrated that each of these issues can be worked on at various levels, and that with greater public participation, we could potentially start seeing real progress in the years to come.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LCI is a wonderful family organization that is very passionate about keeping Lake Champlain and surrounding waters clean, drinkable, and fishable. They go above and beyond to promote positive outcomes for Vermont and its waterways. They keep people informed about how to help keep these waters healthy for the future. I can't say enough!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Lake Champlain International is a terrific non-profit run by driven, motivated, and hard-working individuals that are tirelessly devoted to their cause of ensuring that Lake Champlain's waters are swimable, drinkable, and fishable for generations to come. They do excellent work engaging a large portion of the community around the Lake, from rural anglers to youth and urban minority communities. They've also accomplished impactful victories with the Vermont legislature and state agencies to improve the water quality of the Lake. They have a long legacy of being one of the strongest and most active voices for Lake Champlain, and I've greatly enjoyed my time spent volunteering with them and am looking forward to supporting their work for years to come.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As the owner of a brewery, water quality is very important to me. Over 90% of my product is water, and that water comes from Lake Champlain. LCI does a great job educating and engaging the community and reminding us just how important the lake is to our everyday lives. My business supports them because of their focus on science and community and their tireless work to ensure a swimmable, fishable, drinkable lake.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

LCI addresses water pollution and fisheries issues in an aggressive and effective way that no other organization is willing. I'm afraid the status quo of widespread water pollution would continue as usual if LCI was not pushing for smarter and more responsible behaviors from municipalities, farms, and individuals.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I plan events at a local venue. We work with LCI every year to put on memorable events that promote the message that Lake Champlain is a valuable resource that is in danger; LCI works diligently to make sure everyone knows that, and to promote paths forward to secure 'Swimable, Drinkable, Fishable Waters!'

Previous Stories
1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

As an event professional in the Burlington area, I have worked on numerous events with the folks at LCI. They are bar none the most passionate protectors of one of our state's greatest assets. They are a pleasure to work with and often donate their free time to community outreach. James and Eric even took me fishing! My kudos to them!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I teach Global Social Problems at CCV in St Albans, VT. James Ehlers did a wonderful presentation to the class on issues of cyanobacteria impingement in Lake Champlain, including St Albans and Mississquoi bays. The students had been required to watch the documentary "Bloom" prior to James presentation. James was energetic and passionate in his presentation. The information resonated with the students, all of whom live in Franklin County, many in and around the bay. For many the presentation was eye opening and tied directly into our course module on global environmental issues - its not just a problem in 3rd world areas, but right at our doorstep. Thank you James, and thank you LCI for enriching our knowledge on this issue, and for stimulating activism.

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

It is good to believe that the system is gaining strength to do the right thing for the environment and citizens. James Ehlers, of Lake Champlain International has been instrumental in this. My husband and I live centrally in the residential Village of Lunenburg, RT 2, Main Street. Five years ago, a direct neighbor began a "farming" operation on his half acre property. He had livestock (of all sorts) and did not follow Accepted, Agricultural Practices. The manure and garbage were never removed from pens on his property. After four years of attempting to have this issue enforced, it had begun to feel hopeless. Seven Flags found our file and reported our story. James contacted me immediately after reading the article. He compassionately and graciously offered support, guidance and direction. Yesterday, months later, I attended an enforcement hearing in the Guildhall courthouse. By July, the said property must be excavated, and reseeded. The "farmer" has lost his right to raise any livestock there. THANK-YOU James for all you do!!!!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As part of my schools Geography Awareness Week, I asked James Ehlers to speak to students at the Thaddeus Stevens School. He not only agreed to make the very long drive to the NEK but to give two different presentation: one for K-3 and one for 4-8. Both presentations were engaging and informative for the students. Students asked many questions of Mr. Ehlers and were still talking about the presentation the following day. As we are located on the eastern side of the state, it was valuable for them to learn some of the issues facing Lake Champlain. Responsible environmental stewardship is often taught on a global scale, and it was refreshing to examine a local area. Teachers also found the presentation quite compelling and had many questions to ask themselves. I can’t wait to invite Mr. Ehlers back to our school.

1 Jack57

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

James Ehlers leads the charge in Vermont to try save our waterways for future generations. No one is more intelligent about the facts of the matter. He is the only voice we have that is not afraid to stand up against the politicans and polluters in Vermont.

2 Mad R.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This past spring, I reached out to James Ehlers to speak to my 8th grade science class at Harwood Union Middle School. I was planning a water quality unit and wanted to introduce the phosphorus issues that are impacting our local watersheds. James was recommended as a dynamic speaker, knowledgeable about all aspects of water quality and conservation. James did not disappoint and delivered an informative, relevant and passionate interactive presentation that both inspired and informed students beyond my expectations. Not many humans (nor superheroes) can hold the attention of sixty middle school students for 90 minutes! James' presentation was so engaging and impactful that students couldn't wait for him to come back! When James returned at the end of our unit, students were eager to see him again, full of questions and ideas they had been waiting to explore with him. Several other teachers were so impressed by James' presentation, they are currently planning to invite him to return to Harwood next year, hoping that he will be willing to share his knowledge with their students as well. As a teacher, I'm very grateful for James' generosity and graciousness, as I indeed learned a great deal myself and have been inspired by his passion and commitment.