Get to know Polly Price
In 2017, Polly Price moved from Austin, Texas to Iowa City, Iowa. Her husband grew up in Des Moines, attended the University of Iowa, and suggested the relocation. “I thought to myself, ‘this is fabulous,’” she says when reflecting on the initial decision. To make the move even better, they purchased a house overlooking the Iowa River. It seemed like the ideal location, “I moved here thinking we would have this beautiful river, like we did in Texas, and then I learned that wasn’t the case.”
Price has always enjoyed water activities like surfing, scuba diving, and swimming, so access to a river seemed great. But all of the activities she envisioned were quickly halted. “My husband said to me, ‘oh no, you can’t do that. That river’s toxic,’ and my brain exploded.” Price was “appalled” as she learned more about water issues across the state.
Not only had she expected to spend time in Iowa’s lakes and rivers, but as a personal trainer, she also constantly encourages water consumption. That’s a bit harder to do when the “water quality in the state is so terrible,” she says. In talking with clients or friends, many tell her they drink filtered water. That’s not enough though, “In terms of health, our skin is the biggest organ we have in our body. You can say you have clean water to drink, but then you swim in many of our polluted lakes.”
Water is life for Price, she even has a yard sign that says so. She questioned, “How do we make this better for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren? How can we leave this world a better place?” Changing things for the better, striving for a better quality of life, and creating a healthy human life – those are her passions, and Price was prepared to contribute in any way possible when she was introduced to Marty Lenss. Lenss (founder of Wings2Water) started to tell her about his ideas to improve water quality in the midwest, before the Wings2Water organization was officially formed. “I said, ‘Count me in, I’ll do whatever is necessary to help,’” she recalls.
Since she joined Wings2Water (W2W) as a board member, Price is proud to talk about the long-term solutions the organization has supported and helped fund. That’s just one component that sets W2W apart, “we bring awareness, but we also help with actual solutions,” she says. In its first couple of years, W2W helped fund two water quality improvement projects in the state of Iowa, with more on the horizon. That’s where Price sees a lot of potential, “It’s a ripple effect, when we’re able to provide funding and assistance for water quality projects, over the course of time, things will be different and better.”
Looking ahead, Price is excited to see the efforts of W2W reach other parts of the state and the Mississippi watershed. It isn’t always easy, “I understand and agree, it’s a complicated and ongoing issue…but we all live downstream [or upstream from someone else]. If there’s a problem, we’re all part of the problem,” she says. Price is focused on taking it one step at a time, “no more putting Band-Aids on this issue,” and providing solutions that help entire communities now and in the future.