by Bonnie Ralston, Sarah Pidgeon, and Betsy Ukeritis
with a poem by Ray Pultinas


River Grace DiLeo
River Grace DiLeo

Dear EEAC Community: 

It is with a heavy heart that we are writing to share the devastating news of the passing of our dear friend and EEAC Chairperson, River DiLeo. As anyone who interacted with them can tell you, River was a veritable force of nature–one who touched and forever changed the lives of so many in the environmental education community in NYC and beyond. 

River became involved with EEAC shortly after they moved to NYC from Buffalo in 2014. They were elected to the Steering Committee in 2016 and quickly ascended the ranks, serving first as Treasurer and Membership Secretary and moving on to Chair in 2018. Throughout their tenure, River’s deep love for the field and their dedication to making environmental education a welcoming, inclusive, and accessible space for all shaped the direction of this organization. EEAC’s revised mission statement and adaptive plan are just two of the many living testaments to River’s leadership, vision, and ability to inspire action and effect change. 

An accomplished artist, poet, lover of fungi, organizer of NYC QueerScouts… these are just a few of their innumerable accomplishments and contributions, which barely hint at the magnitude of who River was and is… and show just how fortunate we all are to have known them.

So, this weekend, take a moment to get outside…. Go on a fungi hunt or just take some solace in nature to feel River still very much is here with us all. And lean on each other in this time of ripples in a River that runs through our lives.

We welcome you to connect with one another and River’s statewide community by sharing your thoughts, memories, images, and videos to a KUDOBoard. This is also shared with River’s family to help offer comfort and a sense of River’s impact on all of us. https://www.kudoboard.com/boards/tuWznD75 

In Rad [River’s word!] celebration of our friend, who is already missed so deeply,

NYC-EEAC Steering Committee 

River Grace
A poem by Ray Pultinas

if ever a name
continuous edge 

River that hugs the shore 
but seldom takes it with them

beneath is power, energy to use
or current that can bring you down
entangle you in the branches 

then free you 
to rise above 
the surface 
of the sky 

River, you got away from us,
flooding the basin, 
we will never look
so out of place 
in the forest 
you breached
concrete pylons

now is time 
for the rest of us
to tie our strings and laces

Grace, you invented yourself
out of who you already are
and gave us a River
a mirror