Richard Grant
Kingston, Rhode Island

Before emptying into Narragansett Bay, the Narrow River meanders through the towns of North Kingstown, South Kingstown and Narragansett, Rhode Island. The Narrow River Preservation Association (NRPA) was founded in 1970 in order to Preserve, Protect and Restore the natural environment of the Narrow River Watershed. Richard Grant joined the Board of Directors in 1972.  His willingness to devote himself to every task that would strengthen the integrity and conservation of Narrow River has been appreciated from the outset of his involvement.  In 1996, he became president of the NRPA Board and continues in that role today with unanimous support from Board members throughout the years. During his tenure and with the help of many volunteers interested in the Environment, several projects were initiated.  It was agreed that every member of the Board would chair at least one major improvement project each year.  Richard is an important link and an active participant within each project. The all-encompassing aspects of Water, Land and Education are the guiding themes for the NRPA.  The focus on Water, without question the key issue, was where Richard worked with volunteers and the Board of Directors to install the “NRPA River Watch Program,” an endeavor where many volunteers collect monthly samples from the river for study and evaluation. At this time, “River Watch Program is in its 28th year and validates the improvement of the river’s water quality. The data has been a basis for best management practices in the three watershed towns.  The information is used in coordination with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in its Watershed report and for the restoration of the Chafee Wildlife Refuge. Another extremely successful volunteer project was the recent planting of 35,000 seedlings by 225 Narrow River residents for the US Fish and Wildlife program. Attention to the development of the Land adjacent to the river became a natural link to water quality.  Richard’s active involvement with new building practices and the renovation of existing properties created firm connections with Town Management.  He is a familiar figure at the Town Hall and an inspiration at Town Council meetings. The third element is Education.  Richard has learned a great deal from the many scientists who teach at the University of Rhode Island and who offer their expertise to NRPA as Board Members and as speakers at Annual meetings.  To inspire a connection to scientific research involving Narrow River, the Lisa Meng College Scholarship program was created as an incentive for student involvement that melded with Science Fair Awards programs. The education format has been strengthened by seminars at the river’s edge with the creation of “What is in the River” designed for elementary school children and “Art on the River” for all ages.  Richard attends these events as a facilitator and participant.  Among his favorite volunteer efforts are his visits to elementary and middle school classrooms to offer presentations to the students about the river and its ‘inhabitants.’ Richard’s initial involvement with NRPA was related to raising funds.  He continues that work with the ongoing fundraising programs today.  They are the Membership Drive, Kayak Raffle, Road Race, Mile Swim, Pettaquamscutt River Paddle and the newly added Fishing Tournament.  The exhaustive volunteer efforts required to plan and manage these events has always included Richard’s enthusiastic participation. The essence of Richard’s guiding spirit and his dedication to improving the environment has been accompanied by contributions from the considerable number of residents who continue to volunteer with the Board of Directors to create an impressive watershed team. Richard’s ‘other life’ as an artist and entrepreneur includes his graduation from Brown University where he studied Art History and played Hockey.  In the first years of his business career, he created a nationally recognized Art Program in association with celebrated artists throughout the United States. Shortly thereafter, Richard purchased the Cambridge Paper Box Company and also founded R. B. Grant & Associates; a packaging firm providing structural packaging design that catered to major educational publishers nationwide.