Pick up a Few Things

TVA partners with local agencies like the Harpeth Conservancy to clean up the river, educate Valley residents about the environment and help folks have a good time caring for nature.

OCTOBER 9, 2018—TVA is partnering with nonprofit organizations throughout its seven-state service area to protect and preserve the region’s natural resources. Through the Reservoir & Community Cleanups and the Community Outreach Support funds, TVA enhances the efforts of thousands of volunteers and organizers who make waterways and natural resources brighter for the 10 million people living in the Valley. 

With these two funds, TVA is able to promote cleanups while also investing in education that fosters environmental stewardship. Both programs provide needed funding that gives many nonprofits the ability to execute their environmental goals in the counties they serve.

“We reach out to the public at every level to talk about conservation and the environment,” says Martha Podren, TVA Natural Resources program manager. “Whether it’s young children, students or adults, we want to empower everyone to protect and improve the health of our natural resources.”


Harpeth Conservancy is one organization that is helping TVA achieve this goal. The science-based conservation organization is located in middle Tennessee and strives to restore and protect the clean water and healthy ecosystems of Tennessee rivers. The nonprofit not only holds a number of volunteer river cleanups each year, but offers several educational outreach programs.

Lessons on the Harpeth and P.E.N. Pals (People Exploring Nature) are two opportunities that Harpeth Conservancy provides for families and young people to learn about conservation. These fun, hands-on programs are made possible with partnerships that Harpeth Conservancy has with the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency, the Nashville Zoo and other state and federal agencies.

“We like to get people out on the river and let them see the fishes and other species we are working to protect,” says Dan Fitzgerald, Harpeth Conservancy director of watershed science and restoration. “These experiences really give us the opportunity to show the community just how incredible Tennessee’s aquatic diversity is and why we need to preserve the rivers and recreational opportunities we all enjoy.”

AmeriCorps Vista Molly Warner organizes many of Harpeth Conservancy’s cleanup and educational outreach programs. She encourages everyone in the community to get involved.

“We want people to be aware that when they throw a wrapper out of their window, it could very well end up in one of our state’s scenic rivers and contribute to poor water quality,” she says. “Everybody has the same common goal here, and it’s to clean up and preserve these rivers so they are always beautiful places to visit.”

By providing financial support to educational programs like Harpeth Conservancy’s, TVA hopes that environmental awareness throughout the Valley will continue to grow—lessening the need for stream and reservoir cleanups in the future.    

“Giving our partners some funding for supplies that strengthen their own educational programs is one way to help solve this problem—every community organization works in their own way with local people to do it. Our hope is that as more organizations join in, we’ll be able to reduce not only litter but a host of other water-quality issues we face,” Podren says. “Adding a few extra dollars for cleanups and environmental activities can be just enough to push an event over the top, and that’s what makes these two funds worth talking about. It’s support for what the community is already doing, and that makes people happy to get involved.”

Nonprofit applicants can make funding requests now through June 30, 2019. For more information, contact the Public Land Information Center at (800) 882.5263 or email communitysupport@tva.gov.

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