Twelve members of the Ohio Valley chapter of Women in Maritime Operations (WIMOs) participated in a river cleanup in July with Living Lands & Waters.
“One of the most impactful benefits of WIMOs is the ability for our members to serve our hometown river communities, and our annual cleanup days with Living Lands & Waters are definitely a highlight of our many volunteer opportunities,” said Alice Momenee, executive vice president of the WIMOs national board and marine senior supply chain contracts representative for Marathon Petroleum Company. “With WIMOs being heavily active in many of the nation’s river cities—be it New Orleans, Houston, Paducah, Louisville, Cincinnati, Catlettsburg, Pittsburgh and others—our women can and do make a strong impact.”
The WIMOs group connects women serving the maritime industry in a variety of roles and allows for networking opportunities, mentoring and education. WIMOs now includes roughly 500 members from more than 110 companies across the country.
Group activities include lunch-and-learn sessions, facility tours, training seminars and networking functions.
Recently, WIMOs members spoke for education day at the Breakbulk Americas conference, founder and executive director Kasey Eckstein said. Eckstein and WIMOs national president Holly Normand presented on the inland barge industry to generate interest from numerous Texas college students who participated, Eckstein said. She then also participated on a panel about diversity and inclusion.
It was the third year the Ohio Valley chapter hosted other WIMOs chapters for the Cincinnati cleanup, with members coming in from surrounding states.
“We love [Living Lands & Waters] because we know they’re doing this great work on the river system that is just incredible, and nobody else is doing that sort of thing to that scale,” Momenee said.
Living Lands & Waters also includes several women working within the industry, she said.
WIMOs volunteers removed more than 2,250 pounds of garbage from the Ohio River. The trash included tires, barrels, barge line and even a freezer.
Living Lands & Waters, a non-profit headquartered in East Moline, Ill., has worked with more than 118,000 volunteers to remove more than 11 million pounds of trash from the country’s rivers since being founded in 1998. The group has also educated more than 11,000 students and planted more than 1.6 million trees, according to the organization’s website.
Rachel Loomis, Living Lands & Waters education coordinator, said the organization is always glad to partner with WIMOs.
“We have been able to connect with some great women here in the industry in the Ohio Valley, primarily,” she said.
She said the two groups share goals of connecting people to the river and instilling in them the desire to preserve and protect the environment while also empowering and educating.
Momenee said the river cleanup left the group feeling connected to their communities, their careers and to each other.
“We know that we are not only important contributors in an industry that is vital to our national economy, but we are making a tangible difference where we work and live,” she said. “Just being together as a group, getting our hands dirty and helping others is meaningful and keeps our members engaged and motivated to plan the next function.”
The group also left inspired to continue their environmental work into the future. WIMOs is also participating in a Marathon Petroleum Company-sponsored Ohio River cleanup later this month in Catlettsburg, Ky.
Caption for photo: The Ohio Valley chapter of Women in Maritime Operations (WIMOs) hosted a river cleanup in association with Living Lands & Waters in July in Cincinnati. (Photo courtesy of Women in Maritime Operations)