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
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.
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.
Jennifer Sass is an avid whitewater kayaker, rafter, cross-country-skier and fireside chatter. She was born in upstate New York. Following her father’s military service and graduate studies, the family relocated to Saskatchewan, Canada where Jennifer grew up. She made her way back to the U.S. for her own graduate studies in environmental and occupational health, and has lived in this region ever since. Jennifer works as a scientist to advance safer chemical policies and practices that protect the health of our waterways and wild spaces, and the people and animals that depend on them. Jennifer resides in Maryland with her husband and two cats.Favorite WV River: The Cheat Canyon in spring, and the Gauley in Fall.
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: Upper Gauley in October
Favorite rivers: Laurel Fork of the Cheat, Upper Gauley, and Big Sandy.
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.