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.
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.
The Alchemist Brewery has relied on Lake Champlain International for technical advice in regards to water usage and wastewater treatment. The highly professional and competent group of people who work at LCI have always shared accurate and up to date information with us. LCI has been an incredible resource for our business as we grow. With water being the main ingredient in our beer, it is critical that we understand how to best protect our water sources. Moreover, it is important for us to understand how our water sources and our wastewater are interconnected. James and his crew have done an incredible job educating us and helping to move us in the right direction as we work to minimize our impact on the environment.
In addition to helping our business, LCI has been a great resource for us personally as we navigate the issues surrounding Class A and B sludge application. Our home town recently applied for a permit to produce and spread Class B sludge which will be spread on recreation fields adjacent to the Little River. Although sadly the permit has been granted, Russ and other staff from LCI attended many public hearings in our town. Russ asked all of the pertinent questions and supported opposing citizens 100%.
I have known of the Lake Champlain International (LCI) Fishing Derby for some time now. However, I was unaware of what LCI was really all about until earlier this year when I had the opportunity to speak with Eric LaMontagne, Outreach Coordinator. After several meetings, we decided that the Vermont Beef Industry Council (VBIC) and LCI should partner up to grow a new marketing and promotional opportunity to leverage limited financial resources while promoting two great proteins...fish and beef, a surf and turf theme. The VBIC jumped on board to sponsor the LCI Fishing Derby that occurs on Father’s Day weekend. I am glad that we did!
The three-day event was organized, fueled by volunteers, great family fun, and I believe, successful.
As executive director, I challenged our board of directors to invest producer Check-Off dollars in the LCI Fishing Derby for the great exposure to an audience who already were hearty beef consumers. There was another reason to leverage Check-Off dollars. With time and education, we are able to demonstrate “cause and effect.” The VT Cattle Industry has, for well over a decade, made huge gains in collaborating with other industry partners like LCI to change management practices in an effort to restore our largest body of water, Lake Champlain to a pristine and livable lake for all to enjoy.
Vermont farmers are excellent stewards of the land and are working very hard to be responsible stewards of Lake Champlain and other lakes, ponds and streams because they recognize that water is non-renewable. We know today that there are many other sources of pollution to our water systems including towns, municipalities, the private sector and industries.
LCI works tirelessly to protect Lake Champlain. They tell it like it is and do not mince words. Lake Champlain needs a group like LCI, and I am pleased to be a supporter.
Fantastic group of committed volunteers filling an important need. Professional staff stewarding limited resources. The proof is in the pudding. I am so proud to support their efforts.
The Lake Champlain International is a unique Non-Profit in that its strength comes from the determination of the dedicated volunteers and the thousands of donors who join forces every year to promote the LCI through various events and Fishing Derbies.
It is through these events that the good work of the LCI is spread via word of mouth across the map. Many of these events provide friends and families opportunities to partake in the beauty of Lake Champlain and feel the resolve to support the LCI in their work to protect this national resource.
My brother introduced me to the LCI 20 years ago and I have been Fishing the LCI Father’s Day Derby ever since. What was just a few of us is now a large group of people, husbands, wives, sons & daughters traveling to spend time together. This creates memories that we cherish and a bonding with the need to protect Lake Champlain for future generations.
The net of Fishing an LCI event is just this - Everyone Wins!
Being native Vermonters, and now owning a small business that depends on a strong and healthy lake we need the fine folks at LCI more than ever. Our business is strongly influenced by the tireless efforts of everyone at LCI. Should anyone every have a question as to where to donate resources or time, you will never go wrong by getting involved with the outstanding folks at LCI.
To everyone involved with LCI, thanks for all you do!
Lake Champlain International is dedicated to improving the Lake so that all whom fish, swim and boat can do so throughout their lifetime. As a private donor, I have enjoyed our Lake Champlain for 40 years and wish to see our children understand the complexities and challenges of sustaining this Lake's water quality. Under the leadership of James Ehlers, the LCI Board and a dedicated staff, many citizens are coming to learn our responsibilities as stewards of Lake Champlain. It does take many concerned and educated villagers to raise a trout.