When Friends of the St. Joe River (FotSJR) founder Al Smith retired, he had visions of relaxing, playing golf and doing a little fishing along the St. Joseph River. His retirements plans changed, however, when he saw the condition of his favorite river. It appeared sick and weary. Garbage filled the riverbanks, and people dumped everything from overstuffed furniture to old appliances into it. Having spent much of his youth in and around the river, Smith thought someone should do something about it. "We only get out of this world what we put into it," said Smith. "We had better take care of what we have."
In 1994, Al, along with his wife Margaret, formed the Friends of the St. Joe River Association, Inc. as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Prior to founding the FotSJR, many communities had their own local groups to clean their stretch of the river. Smith recognized the need to bring all of these small groups together under one organization to work towards the same goal -- a healthy river system.
The FotSJR established a presence within the watershed community by addressing broad-scale issues, including nonpoint source pollution, in a collaborative, strategic manner.
Al & Margaret Smith
Founders, Friends of the St. Joe River Association, Inc.