We are excited to announce our very own, Alisa Phillips-Griggs, Watershed Science Director, has been awarded the Elizabeth Jester Fellows Award by the National Monitoring Conference Awards Committee! This award is in recognition for her leadership, advocacy, education, and scientific efforts in the fields of water quality monitoring and environmental protection.
Alisa is an outstanding woman who has dedicated her life – professionally and personally – to protecting the environment.
Alisa is an experienced environmental leader, scientist, advocate and educator. Her experience in diverse fields include water monitoring, environmental protection, ecological restoration, advocacy, aquatic entomology, geology, limnology, hydrology, outdoor emergency care and outdoor travel and rescue.
Alisa is the Watershed Science Director at the Farmington River Watershed Association, and has been working at FRWA for the past 15 years. The Farmington River Watershed Association (FRWA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, founded in 1953, whose mission is to ensure that the natural resources of the Farmington River are forever protected. FRWA’s mission is implemented through a combination of research, monitoring, stewardship, advocacy, and educational outreach. FRWA has a strong track record of working closely with municipalities, state and federal agencies, corporations, other nonprofits, and educational institutions in order to reach its goals.
She has a deep understanding of the watershed and is excellent at mentoring volunteers and interns, as well as explaining science clearly to the lay person, from 2-year-olds to 90-year-olds. Her passion and unabated enthusiasm for the environment transpires into inspiration for those around her, in particular to youth – creating the next generation of environmental scientists. She has mentored many college-aged interns in her water quality monitoring program that have then gone on to get professional positions in the environmental field including USGS, Connecticut Water Company, UTC, CT CEEP, Mass DEP, clean energy and environmental consulting.
Alisa initiated our bacteria monitoring program, developed sampling and lab protocols, was instrumental in creating a Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection approved Quality Assurance Project Plan for the headwaters located in Massachusetts, and launched a microbiology laboratory for analysis for waterborne E.coli. She established an aquatic macroinvertebrate taxonomy laboratory to assess high quality waters and continues to collect data and train volunteers annually. Water monitoring data collected is analyzed and is shared with CT DEEP and MassDEP for use in Integrated Water Quality Reports, as well as to local Towns and other interested groups. Alisa launched continuous in-stream temperature data logger monitoring (hobos) with results shared to Spatial Hydro-Ecological Decision System (SHEDS).
She has developed numerous restoration projects to remove invasive plant species, planting native species in riparian zones, and installing rain gardens. Her collaborative work with local towns and partners has broadened education and impact of restoration projects. She organized Connecticut’s first Collection and Environmentally Safe Disposal of Unwanted and Expired Pharmaceuticals as well as two subsequent collections, thereby receiving the Simsbury Recycling Award.
Alisa organized all nine wastewater treatment plants in the Farmington River Watershed to develop a watershed-wide Emergency Response Plan and Mutual Aid Agreements, and collaborated with USGS to analyze sewage discharges for emerging contaminants. She coordinated NRCS Streamwalk program for stream and riparian assessments and collaborated with CT DEEP to plan Connecticut’s first Volunteer Water Monitoring Conference.
Alisa loves to canoe, kayak, and row and has also led annual series of interpretive canoe trips and watershed explorations highlighting local natural history and current and historic river uses. She has mentored high school students through the Natural Resources Conservation Academy at UCONN. She has given many presentations on stewardship, Best Management Practices (BMP’s), water quality monitoring, and watershed educational programs for children and adults.
Prior to working at FRWA, Alisa worked at CT DEEP in the Bureau of Water Management, Ambient Surface Water Monitoring Program. In this capacity, she brought the State’s macroinvertebrate database to date, correlated taxonomic changes and eliminated sample and data backlog, and restored and organized the macroinvertebrate reference collection. She conducted macroinvertebrate sampling and identification and water quality monitoring. She performed lab analysis in CT Department of Public Health laboratory for E.coli in surface water and logged and analyzed data for CT Water Quality Report to Congress pursuant to Sections 305(b) and 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act.
Alisa held the position as Adjunct Professor for the University of Hartford. She has B.S, in Geology from Michigan State University, 1977 and a M.S. in Geology from Southern Methodist University, 1981. She serves on the State Board of Examiners of Environmental Professionals as an Environmental Representative appointed by the Governor (2008-present), is on the Stewardship Committee since 2013 for the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, was on the Sandy Brook Conservation Corridor Regional Conservation Partnership from 2012 onwards, and has been a Nordic Ski Patroller and Alpine Senior Ski Patroller through the National Ski Patrol.
Alisa loves spending time in the outdoors with her husband, Glen, her two sons when they are in town, and her dog, Skye. She truly has dedicated her life to preserving, protecting, and restoring the Farmington River Watershed. She has done a tremendous amount of work developing high-quality standards set in the field and in the lab for data collection and analysis. Her guidance to FRWA’s partners and the general public has created many positive outcomes in terms of river stewardship. We are honored to work with such a talent, intelligent, caring women.