Rochester resident honored by Buzzards Bay Coalition

Sep 10, 2022

On Sept. 8, the Buzzards Bay Coalition held its 34th Annual Meeting at Cisco Brewers on New Bedford’s Outer Harbor. The highlight of the gathering was the presentation of the 2022 Guardian Awards.

Russ Keeler of Rochester was among the three recipients of the award, considered the Coalition’s highest honor, along with Van Spalding and Anne Rose. 

In the words of the Coalition’s founders, “A Buzzards Bay Guardian is an unsung hero who deserves public recognition, not only for what they have achieved but to inspire others to make a difference.”

Keeler has made a difference in the work of the Buzzards Bay Coalition in myriad ways, according to a press release sent from the Coalition. They stated that Russ has been instrumental in conserving land in Rochester both through preserving his own family’s farm and as a leader in the Rochester Land Trust. He has served as the captain of the Coalition’s research vessel (and then donated a new boat when the need arose), and is an active supporter of trail maintenance and land stewardship at BBC and RLT properties. It is for his long-term commitment to Buzzards Bay and to the Coalition’s efforts to preserve it that he was honored with the 2022 Guardian Award.

The significance of these awards was expressed by the Coalition’s president, Mark Rasmussen.

“The Coalition best tells its stories, expresses its values, and explains what is most important to us as an organization through the Guardian Awards that we grant each year. And this year again is a wonderful example of that with well-deserved awards going to three people who have made a significant difference in the health and future of our Bay.”

The evening also included recognition of Lorene Sweeney of New Bedford for her outstanding volunteer service to the Coalition which began following the 2003 Bouchard oil spill, when she helped clean birds that were affected by the tragedy. Lorene has continued working tirelessly as a volunteer ever since, doing everything from stuffing envelopes to engaging the community as a docent to working as a Baywatcher, taking weekly measurements of the Acushnet and Mattapoisett Rivers in the summer season. 

The Buzzards Bay Coalition is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and sustainable use and enjoyment of Buzzards Bay and its watershed. The organization works to protect clean water in all of the communities surrounding the Bay and Vineyard Sound through science, advocacy, land conservation, and community engagement. It is supported by more than 10,000 members and headquartered in New Bedford.