Riverkeeper Elle Bassett Goes Back to Her Home River

The voice, eyes, and ears for three rivers

Arundel Rivers Federation has hired Anne Arundel County native, Elle Bassett, as the new South, West, and Rhode Riverkeeper. As such, she will be the eyes, ears, and voice for these three Anne Arundel County rivers. Bassett will monitor water quality, identify sources of pollution that threaten these rivers, advocate for their protection and restoration, and bring a passion for environmental education and community engagement to the watersheds.

"Being a riverkeeper is a dream job, but being a riverkeeper for my home river is a home run," said Bassett.

Although she grew up along the South River, she has spent the past 10 years working to advance clean water solutions on Maryland’s Eastern Shore as an education and outreach coordinator before becoming the Miles-Wye Riverkeeper for ShoreRivers in 2018. Over her career, Bassett has worked to connect communities and youth to the water by inviting residents to join her on the rivers to monitor water quality, plant sea grasses, and restore oyster reefs.

In a 2020 interview, Bassett told SpinSheet, “The South River was very much a part of my life growing up… Our summer holiday revolved around boat trips and raftups with friends. I remember noticing how the shoreline would change when I was younger, and the beach by my home slowly changed and eventually disappeared which sparked my curiosity.”

She attended Washington College, hoping to be an English teacher, but an environmental science class that involved interactive on-water lessons piqued her curiosity. 

"Thrilled" she is my riverkeeper

“I felt as if I was learning more from the river than I was in any of my textbooks,” says Bassett. “I decided that I wanted to help others build similar relationships to the river that I had rediscovered in that course.” As a result, she changed course and went on to earn her master’s in environmental education from Concordia University in Portland, OR. 

“Being a riverkeeper is a dream job, but being the riverkeeper for my home river is a home run,” said Bassett. “I’m excited to bring all the skills I’ve learned over my 10 years with ShoreRivers back to this side of the Chesapeake Bay and start working with my hometown communities to protect our rivers together.”

Arundel Rivers Federation’s executive director, Matt Johnston, stated, “Elle will transform everything we do for our rivers. She will bring new communities and residents of our watersheds to our rivers so that we all may take part in this fight for clean water. As one of those watershed residents, I am thrilled to have Elle as my riverkeeper.”

ShoreRivers’s executive director, Isabel Hardesty, commented, “While we are certainly sad to see Elle leave, we are excited about this new opportunity for her and Arundel Rivers. Our organizations have always worked together in Annapolis to fight for clean water, and now one of the strongest voices in that fight will be working just steps from the State House. I’m excited to see what we will accomplish together in the years ahead.”

Arundel Rivers Federation’s mission is to protect, preserve, and restore the South, West, and Rhode Rivers by working with local communities to achieve clean, fishable, and swimmable waterways for present and future generations. Learn how you can get involved at arundelrivers.org