Kim and Phil Metting Van Rijn first volunteered with the League in 2015 when they showed up at a training for Pipe Keepers, one of the League’s citizen science programs. Since then, they have become a fixture at Keep Tahoe Blue events.
Kim and Phil have participated in every conceivable volunteer role: collecting stormwater samples, surveying for aquatic invasive plants, wielding shovels and picks at environmental restoration days, tabling at community events—the list goes on. Better still, rarely do they attend a League event without bringing along a new friend.
Together, Kim and Phil have given over 200 hours of their time so far. The League recognized them as Volunteers of the Year this summer. Phil joined the League’s board of directors a few weeks later. But it didn’t stop there.
Why did you get involved with the League to Save Lake Tahoe?
Kim: I decided to get involved because we had made Tahoe our home and wanted to ‘give back’ to our new community, what better way than to work with the folks that care for our region’s most precious asset!
Phil: Environmental conservation and restoration are extremely important to me, and even before moving to Tahoe, I was looking for an organization that was active in protecting this amazing area that I loved to spend time visiting. For the past few years I’ve spent quite a bit of time volunteering with the U.S. Forest Service aquatic biology crew in South Lake Tahoe, and I learned a great deal about the environmental challenges that Lake Tahoe faces. The League to Save Lake Tahoe has a very compelling community engagement and volunteer onboarding model, and I was particularly interested in the citizen science programs like Pipe Keepers. I was also drawn to the comprehensive approach to protecting Lake Tahoe that the League has created, which focuses on advocacy, education, and collaboration.
What is special about Lake Tahoe for you?
Kim: I think the most special thing about Tahoe is the generally positive spirit folks living here have, the way they acknowledge that we live in one of the most scenic places in the world, that we are blessed to be here to enjoy it in so many ways and the joy we experience day in and day out being surrounded by beauty, all year ’round!
Phil: Lake Tahoe is such a unique place, and the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains is awe-inspiring. I have always loved being near lakes and rivers, and I grew up next to a creek where I got to explore all sorts of natural wonders in my backyard. Lake Tahoe provides an amazing opportunity for exploration and adventure that makes me feel like a child again.
Phil, why did you want to join the board?
Phil: Through my experience as a core volunteer with the League to Save Lake Tahoe, I developed a greater sense of responsibility in helping the organization carry out its mission. As a resident of South Lake Tahoe, I try to stay tuned in to the concerns of our local community, and I wanted to use that insight to provide leadership wherever it’s needed. I also have gotten to know the staff and board members over the past year, and I was excited about the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of people.
What do you hope comes of your involvement with the League?
Kim: I hope that being involved with the League means raising awareness in others, whether it be my friends or folks I just meet around town. I want others to move past just recognizing the Keep Tahoe Blue slogan and take ownership themselves and realize they can do their part and get involved and make friends and have fun doing it!
Phil: A few years ago I was hiking along the shores of Lake Tahoe near Rubicon Point, and I stopped to look out at the breathtaking view and incredible blue color of the lake. I thought to myself, “When I’m 80 years old, I want to hike this same trail and see Lake Tahoe looking just a beautiful and blue as it is today!” My hope is that I can help raise awareness and collaborate with others to make “Keep Tahoe Blue” not just a slogan, but a lifestyle that sets an example for the rest of the world.