West Virginia Rivers Board of Directors

Chrissy Zeltner (Chair) is an avid whitewater kayaker who frequently can be found on a West Virginia river. Her favorites are the Middle Fork of the Tygart, the Big Sandy, and the Cheat. She is originally from Pennsylvania, and now lives Bruceton Mills, WV.  As a self-employed massage therapist, Chrissy is able to make time in her schedule for lots of kayaking, mountain biking, skiing and spending time with her dogs Nova and Max.

Favorite WV River: Middle Fork of the Tygart

Rachel Tompkins (Vice Chair) retired in 2009 to her family home place on the banks of Douthards Creek in Pocahontas County, the Birthplace of Rivers. Before that she had a varied career in education, government and non-profit organizations. Rachel directed the WVU Extension Service for 10 years and during that time served her first term on the WV Rivers Coalition Board. Caring for her land, bordering the Monongahela National Forest and at the headwaters of the Greenbrier River, is her continuing passion.

Favorite WV River: Greenbrier River

Ed Gertler (Secretary) is a retired engineer with Maryland Department of the Environment, Water Management Administration, where he worked from 1970 to 2013. He has been an accomplished whitewater canoeist for nearly 50 years, and is the author of three paddling guidebooks and contributor to others. He is also an avid hiker, biker, contradancer, and weed warrior.

Favorite WV River: Smoke Hole Canyon, South Branch of the Potomac

Paul Breuer is a whitewater rafting industry pioneer. In 1973 he formed Mountain River Tours and became the first outfitter to run the Gauley River. Through his innovation, leadership and vision he provided and opportunity for millions to experience outdoor adventure activities.

Favorite WV River: Gauley for whitewater, Upper New for family floating, Cranberry above Woodbine for fly fishing, Dries of the New River for spectacular scenery

Eric Engle is a 31-year-old father of two with a wonderful fiancée, Kayla. He graduated from Marshall University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Minor in History. Eric is employed at the Bureau of the Fiscal Services, U.S. Treasury Department, and serves as Chairman of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action. His amazement of river ecosystems started at a young age, growing up fishing, boating and watching wildlife thrive in the Little Kanawha.

Favorite WV River: Little Kanawha

Shawn Romano, a native West Virginian, resides in Charleston where he is a practicing attorney.  Shawn learned his love of the outdoors at a very young age from his grandfather; who would take him fishing and exploring in the woods along the West Fork River in Lewis County. His enjoyment of paddling moving water began in Morgantown while he was a student, and continues to this day. Shawn spends most of his river time on the Greenbrier River, and has paddled it’s entire length. His time on the Greenbrier has reinforced his belief that strong, vibrant ecosystems rely on a foundation of clean water. He is most proud to have passed his love of rivers on to his daughters, Sophia and Isabella, both of whom enjoy spending time on the river.

Favorite River:  Greenbrier.

Talley Sergent, a Huntington, W.Va. native who now resides in Buckhannon, has built a 20-year career rooted in service: on Capitol Hill, on three U.S. presidential campaigns, at the U.S. State Department, in the private sector and now, in higher education. She was named one of FORTUNE’s Most Powerful Women – Next Generation in 2017. And, in 2018, she was the Democratic nominee in West Virginia’s Second Congressional District and was named a WV Living ‘West Virginia Wonder Woman.’ A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, she is an avid sportswoman and enjoys West Virginia’s great outdoors with her partner, Patrick Jack, and their dog Chunk.

Favorite River: Morning coffee on her porch overlooking the Buckhannon River; otherwise, all things the Elk River at Twistabout.

Turner Sharp (Treasurer) grew up on a dairy farm in Central Maryland but has been a West Virginia resident since 1977. He attended Potomac State College and West Virginia University graduating with a BS and MS in Forestry. Turner has worked 30 years in the wood products industry. Although retired, he has contracted with the WV Division of Forestry for the past two years to update their Big Tree Register. Turner is a member of the West Virginia Highland Conservancy and active in West Virginia Wildwater Association, Friends of the Ohio River Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and Native Tree Society. Turner and his wife Susan share eight children/step children and nine grandchildren/step grandchildren.

Favorite WV River: Elk River drainage

Dave Ruediger grew up in the woods, rivers and lakes of Michigan. This led him to degrees in horticulture and science education. He spent 36 years teaching students biology, environmental and earth science in Michigan, Illinois and, for the past 29 years, West Virginia. The mountain streams and whitewater of The Mountain State called to him and he spent a large portion of his mid-life in the rocks and rapids of the Elk, Gauley and New Rivers. In 2001, his soul-mate, Pam, and he were married next to a waterfall on the BlackFork of the Elk River in Webster County. They now reside near the BlackFork of the Cheat River in Tucker County. They are both active with the Friends of the Cheat and the Cheat River Water Trail. They look forward to sharing their love of the river with their children, grandchildren and believe river time is something everyone needs regularly.

Favorite WV River: Upper Cheat River and its tributaries.

Nancy Ward grew up in Minnesota, and surrounded by 10,000 lakes, learned to canoe and fish before she could walk. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but close. Her youth was spent on  the water canoeing, hiking, and exploring. She graduated from MCAD with a BFA and moved to NYC. In 1986 Nancy moved with her husband and kids to WV and discovered the joy of moving water (rivers) and mountains. They ran a successful retail store for 28 years in Charleston and in 2016 retired.  Her involvement with the Rivers Coalition began with the water crisis where she was an active advocate for the small business community and their need for clean water. Nancy is president of the West Virginia Mushroom Club and has been an avid amateur mycologist for 20 years.

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