When it comes to environmental reform, the conversation starts around the kitchen table. And while they don’t get the credit or recognition they deserve, women over the years heavily influenced environmental reform.

Dr. Terrianne K. Schulte narrowed it down to four reformers across the 20th century to represent the work done. She spoke Friday during a talk titled, “We Have to Create a National Debate, Community by Community: Women Trailblazers in Environmental Reform.” She spoke of Helen Dortch Longstreet, Rachel Carson, Betty Klaric and Lois Gibbs.

The talk was sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution as part of the Orleans County Heritage Festival.

“They often time don’t get the credit — what’s really ironic about the individuals I chose, three out of the four were closely aligned with media,” Schulte said. “So they did receive attention where they were, but when you look across the broad scope of the 20th century, you don’t really see the work a lot of women did.”
Women did most of their work as part of organizations. In this area especially, Housewives to End Pollution was very effective to clean up Lake Erie when it was labeled “dead” after there was a 1,400 mile dead zone due to the eutrophication and detergent phosphates.

The League of Women Voters were also extremely important, not only locally, but nationally, in terms of conservation and environmentalism. Women Strike for Peace during the Kennedy era was important in protesting the nuclear tests. Read more.