Shirley Caldwell-Patterson

Cumberland River Compact
Purpose Prize Fellow 2006

Enhancing the future of the Cumberland River watershed

In 1997, at age 79, Shirley Caldwell-Patterson attended a presentation by Victor Scoggins who showed a film of his swim down the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky. A long-time conservationist, Patterson was appalled at the condition of the Cumberland River Basin, which consists of 14 watersheds and provides water to 2 million people. Recognizing that, in effect, we all live downstream, Patterson created the Cumberland River Compact with a mission to improve the water quality of the Cumberland River and its tributaries. Today the Compact is one of Tennessee’s leading environmental education organizations. Its goal of creating a Watershed Outreach Program in each of the 14 watersheds is halfway to completion. More than 300 elected officials have been educated about their community’s water resources and officials in the states of Kentucky and Tennessee have signed a Principles of Agreement to work jointly to improve the water supply in the future.