WASHINGTON, N.C. — Environmental advocate, organizer, coalition builder, conservation and climate activist — Samantha Krop brings a host of skills to her new role as Sound Rivers’ Neuse Riverkeeper.

Krop joins Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper Jill Howell on Sound Rivers’ riverkeeping team, the pair tasked with monitoring and protecting the waterways of two watersheds covering nearly a quarter of North Carolina.

“We’re really excited to bring Sam aboard at Sound Rivers. She is certainly well prepared to take on the challenges the Neuse River and our communities face,” said Sound Rivers’ Executive Director Heather Deck. “She’s going to be a fierce advocate for the river.”

Krop comes to Sound Rivers from the Pacific Northwest, where she led campaigns to stop the clearcutting of forests, worked to oppose destructive fossil fuel proposals and fought for healthy drinking water supplies alongside community members. Prior to her full-time role as an environmental organizer, she taught undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in environmental justice and pedagogy at the University of Oregon.

Her love of nature, and North Carolina, dates back to childhood.

“I’m originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida, where I first became keenly aware of watershed issues after the Gulf oil spill changed our home forever,” Krop said. “I grew up swimming, boating and kayaking in the brackish waters and swamps and have always, always, been in love with rivers.”

Her camp experience in the North Carolina mountains cemented her future in advocacy. From ages 7 to 21, Krop attended Camp Celo on the shores of the South Toe River in the Black Mountains, first as a camper, then as a counselor. Attendance a generation-spanning tradition in Krop’s family, Camp Celo was founded on Quaker values: simplicity and appreciation of nature.

“This is where I first learned how to survive with little, work in community and care for the land — this was also where I was first inspired to become an environmental advocate,” she said. “I always credit the North Carolina mountains for teaching me what I wanted to be; what I wanted to do.”

Now she’ll put past experience to work for the Neuse River watershed.

“I’m honored to be joining hands with the people of the Neuse to advocate for the river and all those who rely on it. After spending a decade fighting for watersheds in the Pacific Northwest, I couldn’t be more excited to bring my experience and energy to the Neuse River, where I’m committed to giving my all to the challenging, yet hopeful, work ahead,” Krop said.

She’s also bringing a passion for justice, equity and inclusivity to her Riverkeeper role. “The environmental justice issues are different, but it’s essentially the same story: you have these big operations, unregulated industry, taking advantage of our most vulnerable communities, and I’m in for that fight,” she said. “I’m looking forward to applying all the skills I’ve learned to do good work, in a place I want to be.”

Krop comes aboard during an organizational shift at Sound Rivers: Lower Neuse Riverkeeper Katy Hunt is transitioning to the role of staff scientist, providing technical support for the Riverkeepers in both the Neuse and Tam-Pamlico watersheds.

According to Hunt, the shift means getting back to her true passion: science.

“Taking on the job of staff scientist allows me to focus more on the science-based part of our advocacy, and I feel, through this avenue, I’ll be able to better understand and communicate our rivers’ issues,” Hunt said. “I’m looking forward to the transition, continuing to work in the Lower Neuse and diving more into my scientific background.”

“We’re excited for the move,” Deck said. “Sound Rivers will continue our presence on the Lower Neuse and, with the addition of Sam, be adding a strong voice for the entire watershed.”

Founded in 1980-81, Sound Rivers is one of the oldest grassroots conservation organizations in North Carolina. Sound Rivers monitors and protects two watersheds covering nearly a quarter of the state. With Riverkeepers on the Neuse and Tar-Pamlico rivers, Sound Rivers’ mission is to preserve the waterways’ health and the health of the people who rely on them through science-based advocacy and environmental justice. For more information, visit soundrivers.org.