AWW Staff and other Auburn University colleagues held a reception to celebrate recently retired AWW Director, Eric Reutebuch, his significant career achievements and his 28 years of service with Auburn University.
AWW Founder and former Director Dr. Bill Deutsch perfectly summed up everyone’s reflections on Eric when he said, “We call Water Watch a community-based, science-based program. Eric’s contributions to Water Watch are many, and he clearly brought both the community and the science aspects to his work on a daily basis.”
Surely many of our AWW volunteers and friends share this and other sentiments expressed by those present including College of Agriculture Dean Dr. Paul Patterson, Alabama Cooperative Extension (ACES) Director Dr. Gary Lemme, ACES Associate Director Dr. Paul Brown, former Auburn University Water Resources Center (AUWRC) Dr. Sam Fowler, current AUWRC Director Dr. Puneet Srivastava, AWW Founder Dr. Bill Deutsch, and several current and past program staffers.
Eric began working at Auburn University in 1988 after finishing his Masters in Science from the AU Department of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture. He worked for 17 years with Dr. David Bayne’s Rivers and Reservoirs Group. He joined the AWW team in 1996 (full time in 2006), and brought along his considerable experience and knowledge to improve AWW training materials and workshops, develop waterbody reports, conduct data interpretation sessions, and to provide excellent technical backstopping to monitoring groups who were trying to use their data to make a difference. Bill commented that “Eric’s background in water science helped make Auburn’s Water Watch program nationally and internationally recognized. By his own admission, it took some adjustment to translate water chemistry and statistical analyses into ways that the non-specialist could understand, but he became a master of it.” Eric became the Director of AWW in 2014.
During the reception, Eric was presented by AU and ACES Administrators with special certificates recognizing the significant contributions made to these institutions through his career. In addition, Dr. Christy Bratcher, Director of the AU Food Safety Institute, presented Eric with a Project Team Award for his collaboration on a recently completed USDA funded project.
Besides Eric’s professional achievements, Eric is commended as a person of exemplary character. His generosity, compassion, and kind demeanor leave a mark on all who have the pleasure of knowing him. Bill recalled how “Eric’s international experiences gave him a love for cross-cultural interactions and sensitivity to others of a different world view. When international guests would visit the Water Watch office, Eric was quick to make them feel at home.” Eric would also make sure they didn’t leave Alabama without casting a line or floating one of our beautiful rivers. Eric’s love for all things fishing, boating, and water related is known far and wide! Our water monitors and co-workers in AWW love him for it.
Eric expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to work at Auburn University in water research, and then with Alabama Water Watch. He feels like he had the best job in the world. We are all very blessed that Eric decided to make Alabama his home, and that his life’s work was dedicated to keeping its waters clean and healthy. The impact Eric has had in Alabama and beyond was evident in the outpouring of love and kind words.
Eric, from everyone at Alabama Water Watch, thank you for your lasting dedication to this incredible program. You are dearly missed by all of us and wish for you the very best in your retirement.