Clearwater was founded by Pete Seeger, legendary musician, singer, songwriter, folklorist, activist, environmentalist, and peace advocate, and one of the most influential people of the twentieth century. In 1966, in despair over the pollution of his beloved Hudson River, Seeger announced plans to “build a boat to save the river.” At the time, the Hudson was rank with raw sewage, toxic chemicals and oil pollution; fish had disappeared over many miles of its length. Seeger, along with many other concerned individuals, believed a majestic replica of the sloops that sailed the Hudson in the 18th and 19th centuries would bring people to the river where they could experience its beauty and be moved to preserve it. Inspired by that vision, the organization began with the launch of the sloop Clearwater in 1969 —a majestic 106-foot long replica vessel.
The sloop Clearwater is recognized as America’s Environmental Flagship and is among the first vessels in the United States to conduct science-based environmental education aboard a sailing ship, creating the template for environmental education programs around the world. More than half a million people have experienced their first real look at the Hudson River estuary’s ecosystem aboard Clearwater. In 2004, the sloop Clearwater was named to the National Register of Historic Places for its groundbreaking role in the environmental movement. Over the years, Clearwater has been at the forefront of the environmental movement, working to pass landmark legislation such as the Clean Water Act and protecting all of us from toxic waste.
Clearwater’s longtime strategy of inspiring, educating and activating people is still a powerful formula for success. Utilizing the greatest natural resource in the region – the Hudson River – Clearwater is the grassroots model for generating change to protect our planet. Today, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. and the iconic sloop Clearwater are carrying forward Pete Seeger’s legacy by partnering with Hudson Valley schools and community leaders to raise the bar of environmental education and encouraging youth to become involved as active stewards of their environment and the Hudson River.
Through the organization’s multiple environmental education programs, youth empowerment programs, environmental action campaigns, Green Cities initiatives, and unique approach to public outreach, the sloop Clearwater is recognized as a symbol of grassroots action through hands-on learning, music, and celebration.
Our environmental education initiatives introduce thousands of school-age children and young adults to the Hudson River and its watershed each year through innovative, hands-on learning programs that provide a continuum of experiences from elementary school right through college.
Over the last nearly 50 years, our concerts, sloop education programs and environmental advocacy programs have inspired, educated and activated millions of people. The faces of Clearwater are legion: We are the 12-year-old who starts a recycling program at school, the business owner incubating green jobs, the musician singing for a cleaner river, and the parent who teaches her kids how to live in harmony with nature. We need all of them today and going forward. As our founder Pete Seeger said, “The time is now or we will not, I fear, have a future for the human race.”
But the job of saving our earth is, in many ways, growing more urgent and complex. We strive to support growing grass-roots efforts and provide educational experiences to all people, especially youth of various ethnicities, economic and cultural backgrounds, to help new generations of strong environmental stewards. A green. sustainable future truly hangs in balance.
Please join us as a member of Clearwater and support our work. Or see about some of our volunteer opportunities. Host a house party to help raise awareness about Clearwater. Best of all, come sail aboard the sloop Clearwater, where you’ll meet – and maybe become – part of the new generation of environmental leaders!