Paige Winebarger, a retired bank executive and ardent environmentalist, joined the Freshwater Society Board in December 2013.
We asked Paige, a former member of both the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, to talk about her connection to water and her hopes for the Freshwater Society.
Q. What’s your story? Where did you grow up and go to school? What have you done in your professional life?
A. I grew up near the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, attending a rural high school, then Longwood College, and University of Virginia School of Law. I am retired from a 33-year career as a bank regulator/ lawyer/executive.
Q. Do you have a personal connection to water?
A. Water— being near it (not swimming or fishing in it)– has always been my place of peace and soulfulness.
Q. Is there something you do in your personal life to “walk the talk” of valuing, conserving and protecting water?
A. Serving on the Freshwater Society Board.
Q. Is there a book you have read, maybe a speaker you have heard, or an experience you have had that influenced who you are today and the positions you take with regard to water?
A. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
Q. Why did you agree to serve as a member of the Freshwater board?
A. I feel a great sense of urgency toward addressing our huge environmental challenges. For me, preservation of water ranks with climate change in urgency. Since this is Freshwater’s mission, I would like to be a part of an organization that is effectively finding and implementing solutions.
Q. What are Minnesota’s main water challenges that you want Freshwater to address?
B. Increasing effectiveness of state and local government in protecting quality and quantities of surface and ground water; better strategic allocations of Clean Water Legacy Funds; and reductions in nonpoint source pollution.
Q. If you could make any single change in public attitudes toward water, what would it be?
B. That each individual feel a personal sense of responsibility for being a steward of Minnesota’s incredible water resources.
Q. If you could make one change in state law or policy on water, what would it be?
B. Changing one law or policy would not accomplish much. After having served as a citizen member of both the EQB and MPCA, and studying many environmental issues as a board member of The Nature Conservancy and as a Guardianship Council member for Freshwater, I am in favor of a major overhaul of our “water” statutes.