2021 Elizabeth Jester Fellows Award Recipient

Alisa Phillips-Griggs
Farmington River Watershed Association

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.

Alisa has demonstrated her dedication to the water quality aspects of environmental protection, by:

  • Expanding the FRWA water quality monitoring program to cross community and state boundaries, providing important data comparability and standardization of methods evaluation.
  • Developing, training, and overseeing macroinvertebrate studies and water quality monitoring programs in volunteer settings, to reduce costs and uncertainty in monitoring results.
  • Pursuit of a not-for-profit and public service career, resulting in strong scientific leadership skills with dedication to development of water quality monitoring methods and scientifically defensible results.
  • Recognizing the importance for, taking action, and collaborating to develop watershed wastewater plants emergency planning and mutual aid agreements.
  • Collaborating with USGS for emerging contaminants analysis in wastewater discharges.
  • Organizing and advancing water quality data management to provide for public access to the data.
  • Working as the Governor-appointed environmental representative for Examination of Environmental Professionals to maintain professional standards in the industry.
  • Serving across multiple organizations to promote understanding.
  • Working as an educator to promote and/or communicate the importance of water quality monitoring and protection of natural systems.
  • Initiated a 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 coli.
  • Launched continuous in-stream temperature data logger monitoring (hobos) with results shared to Spatial Hydro-Ecological Decision System (SHEDS).
  • Developed numerous restoration projects to remove invasive plant species, plant native species in riparian zones, and install rain gardens.
  • 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.
  • Coordinated NRCS Streamwalk program for stream and riparian assessments and collaborated with Connecticut DEEP to plan Connecticut’s first Volunteer Water Monitoring Conference.

Prior to working at FRWA, Alisa worked at Connecticut 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 Connecticut Department of Public Health laboratory for E. coli in surface water and logged and analyzed data for Connecticut Water Quality Report to Congress pursuant to Sections 305(b) and 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act.

Alisa 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.

Elizabeth Jester Fellows was the Director of the EPA’s Assessment and Watershed Protection Division until her death in November 2000. She dedicated her career to natural resources management, environmental protection, and public service. Elizabeth was the EPA co-chair of the Intergovernmental Task Force on Monitoring (ITFM) and envisioned the creation of its successor, the National Water Quality Monitoring Council. She was a strong and effective advocate for developing a nationwide framework for coordinating, collecting, assessing, and communicating water quality monitoring information and results. Elizabeth was the personification of the goals and ideals of the monitoring Council, and her legacy has been an inspiration to those who have followed her and continue the Council’s work. In her memory, the Council has established the Elizabeth Jester Fellows Award to recognize individuals for outstanding achievement, exemplary service, and distinguished leadership in water quality monitoring and environmental protection.