Evie Flaugh is no stranger to the wonders of Florida’s waterways, or to the environmental crises that plague them. As a co-founder of the River Kidz, she’s spent nearly half her life speaking up to protect and preserve them. Now a college student, Evie shares her journey as a river kid, and talks about the full circle moment when her summer internship at Friends of the Everglades offered her the chance to continue advocating in new ways for the waterways she loves as an adult.

The Story of a River Kid
By Evie Flaugh

Growing up on one the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America, I have always had a fascination with the environment around me. My friend Naia and I spent hours every day exploring the captivating St. Lucie River and its creatures as we grew up in paradise.

However, in 2011, my mom showed us an article written by Eve Samples in the Stuart News that expressed a need for the youth to get involved in the Rivers Coalition. At the time, we viewed the river as clean and beautiful and were compelled to understand why it needed our help. Our parents explained to us in simple terms that the big lake in the center of our state was releasing its polluted water into our estuaries. We soon became very familiar, and frustrated, with the phrase “Lake Okeechobee discharges.” Although we were just 10 years old at the time and had only a basic idea of what was happening to our river, we knew we had to do something.

One weekend, we decided to make a small lemonade stand in my neighborhood to raise money for the local Rivers Coalition and to raise awareness about what was happening. Our friends and family loved the idea that we were spending our summer standing up for the river and many wanted to join our fight. With support from our community, we formed the group River Kidz. This group gave local kids a chance to learn about the discharges and do something to help the river that we all loved so dearly.

Fast forward 9 years and River Kidz has over 700 members today. These 9 years have been filled with protests, rallies, trips to speak in Tallahassee and Washington DC, and much more. I have learned so much about myself and the power of dedication through my years as a River Kid. I have learned that I can have a voice in my future and that if you truly are passionate in what you believe in, people will listen.

This summer, I have come full circle as am taking part in my first internship ever with Eve Samples at Friends of the Everglades, a grassroots advocacy organization with a storied history and a leading presence in Florida’s fight for clean water today. This opportunity has allowed me to apply my passion for the river to a new mission: restoring and protecting the one of a kind Everglades. I am eager to learn more about our diverse waterways and look forward to continuing to advocate for the waters I love in my adult life.