Please join us in thanking our 2023 Stewardship Award recipients for their passion and advocacy for the Huron River and our community! These extraordinary volunteers are committed to protecting and restoring the river.

Hall of Fame • Cheryl Saam

Cheryl Saam HRWC Hall of Fame 2023Cheryl Saam is the former recreation supervisor for the City of Ann Arbor Argo and Gallup Parks Canoe Liveries, a role she held for 21 years until her retirement in early January. Under Cheryl’s watch, Ann Arbor has long been the largest and busiest livery operation in Michigan. It grew from 70 boats when she started to today’s fleet of 550 canoes and kayaks with even more stand-up paddle boards and tubes. Her vision has always been to “just get people outdoors, enjoying nature with friends and family.” One of Cheryl’s biggest challenges was updating an almost unusable and unsafe livery building at Argo. She was also instrumental in the removal of an obsolete concrete structure across the river near the Arboretum that created a dangerous portage.

Cheryl’s vision and expertise were a key component in the development of the Huron River Water Trail. She has also ensured steady recreation support for HRWC programs over the years. Cheryl led the planning of an annual family-friendly Huron River Day festival; created river-focused programs that engage more than 500 kids and adults each summer; and she hired, trained, and supervised 120 student workers every season. Thanks to Cheryl, Ann Arbor boasts two universal access docks and many adaptive paddling programs.

Volunteer of the Year • Belinda Friis

Belinda Friis Volunteer of the Year 2023Whether Belinda Friis is engaged in a friendly fishing rivalry on the Huron River or advising HRWC’s Board of Directors or Finance Committee, she’s been sharing her time and talents with HRWC for 10 years.

In early 2013, Belinda was looking for a new adventure. On a crisp day in January, she found HRWC’s Stonefly Search. She says spending time outside on a beautiful snowy day while looking for bugs that help HRWC understand the health of the river was deeply satisfying. “I had the perfect day, and I was helping to keep the river clean. When West Bloomfield Township asked me to join HRWC’s board, it was easy to say yes.” We are lucky she did! Cheers to Belinda Friis, HRWC Volunteer of the Year.

Trailblazer Award • Kyle Martin

Kyle Martin Trailblazer Award 2023Kyle Martin worked with HRWC in the summer of 2022 as a field intern and STEM Education volunteer, helping to launch HRWC’s inaugural summer education program with the Parkridge Community Center in Ypsilanti. Kyle took on a leading roll teaching second and third grade students about the Huron River, water quality monitoring, and the joy of exploring outdoor spaces in their local community.

A native of Ypsilanti, Kyle is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental science at Eastern Michigan University. He is also a captain of the track and field program and a founding member of EMU’s Sierra Club. After graduation, Kyle plans to pursue a master’s degree and eventually a PhD in wildlife conservation.

Thank you Cheryl, Belinda and Kyle!

You are invited to celebrate these dedicated individuals with us at our Community Open House and River Givers Gathering, Wednesday, March 8, 4-7pm at HRWC’s Headquarters for the Huron in Ann Arbor.