Honoring Glenn Switkes

Quinn Van Valer-Campbell

When I first started at International Rivers almost a year ago, I could feel the passion that staff had for their work. It was apparent in our conversations, in staff meetings (even at 8am), in their blogs and updates, and on so many other levels. It was easy for me to feel at home and even more passionate about my own contributions.

What I soon found out was how many of these people fell in love with International Rivers even before they were on staff. I can think of two people with whom I have worked in the past year who started as interns and later became staff – Katy Yan and Kate Ross. They both have that contagious excitement about everything they do, especially when it comes to International Rivers.

Glenn showing his love for rivers
Glenn showing his love for rivers

Glenn Switkes also shared this passion for International Rivers’ mission and the desire to do something proactive to make the world a better place for everyone, particularly the generations to come. It is in his honor that our Intern and Volunteer Program has been renamed the Glenn Switkes Intern and Volunteer Program. His energy for our work and his appreciation for our interns and volunteers make this a seamless transition as we honor him and the many lives that he touched throughout the world.

My friend Katy, our former China Program Coordinator and Intern and Volunteer Coordinator, described her internship experience to me: “What I found at International Rivers was not only a group of people well-versed in interdisciplinary and strategic problem-solving, but also one that was compassionate, fun, and deeply committed to the people who would be most impacted by bad development decisions. To me, Glenn was one of the best examples of this kind of connection. So when the opportunity came to join as staff, the decision was an easy one.”

Kate, our Campaigns Associate and Patagonia Coordinator, started as an intern for Rivers for Life 3: The Third International Meeting of Dam-Affected People and Their Allies: “It was such a unique introduction to the organization – to the powerful network of activists and communities from around the world who inspire so much of our work, as well as to the International Rivers family (and it definitely felt like family after a week spent in the same house, with only one bathroom in Mexico). After such an eye-opening and moving experience, I couldn’t imagine leaving this family. I had found a place and a group of people who challenged and supported me and I found myself wanting to know more and learn more about the world I had been introduced to in Temacapulín.”

Glenn sharing important information with indigenous Amazon communities
Glenn sharing important information with indigenous Amazon communities

Katy and Kate shared that same excitement that defined Glenn in so many ways. Even though I never knew Glenn, the energy he instilled within International Rivers is undeniable. I would have loved the chance to get to know this dedicated activist who inspired so many. His desire to share his passion and to teach others, fostering the next generation of river lovers, human rights activists and filmmakers, supported dozens of people over the years. It’s with great honor and respect that we establish the Glenn Switkes Intern and Volunteer Program. Glenn’s work and his memory live on – inspiring us to continue fighting for a better world. 

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013