Get to know Steve Shriver
Born and raised in Iowa, Steve Shriver describes himself as someone who always had wanderlust, a drive for adventure, and curiosity about the world. With a passion for the outdoors, he discovered rock climbing in his early twenties and ended up starting his first business – a rock climbing guiding service. “I would take people out to climb in Iowa or go out west to bigger mountains,” he says.
Around the time that Steve was “finding nature,” he also met his wife. Together, “We just devoted our lives to sustainable agriculture, organic products, and a healthy lifestyle,” Steve says. From there, they asked themselves two questions: What are we doing to do next? Where are we going to go next?
After co-founding Eco Lips and acquiring Bug Soother, each focusing on organic consumer products, Steve felt compelled to bring more to his local community. And that’s how Brewhemia, a cafe in the New Bohemia district of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was formed. “At the time we started it, there wasn’t a bustling independent coffee shop in our area. We thought about our travels and always visiting the best coffee shops, and we said, ‘let’s put one of those here.’”
SOKO Outfitters was a similar story for Steve. He wanted to be involved in a locally-owned outdoors shop, something the community didn’t have, and one that would bring outdoor experiences, events, and more to the residents.
Steve’s passion for the environment and community, apparent in his endeavors, made joining Wings2Water (W2W) a natural fit. It was soon after Marty Lenss, W2W founder and board member, kicked off the nonprofit and invited Steve to an informative meeting about the objectives of the organization. “It was a no brainer for me. It makes so much sense,” he says.
Having helped with irrigation in El Salvador and taken part in digging wells in Africa, Steve can speak firsthand about water quality around the globe. “Water is something that we tend to take for granted here. But of all places in the world, we really shouldn’t because of the agricultural runoff… our water is terrible in the watershed,” he explains.
For Steve, the real eye opener about local water quality happened in 2022 when he began a paddle boarding trip down the Cedar River. First, he was able to take in the surroundings as he paddled, and “I saw a lot of farmland right next to the river and a lot of waste naturally flowing into the water.” The bigger issue though – drinking water. For the length of the trip, Steve brought a water filter to be able to drink from the river, “and it would clog up my water filter. I had to constantly take it apart and clean it.”
Since joining the W2W board, Steve is proud to see the donations that have already been made to water quality improvement projects and the continuous support of the community. Now he’s ready to make an even bigger impact. “We’re new, so we’re just scratching the surface of possibilities. How big can we make this? How much of the Mississippi River watershed can we impact in a positive way? Knowing that this is just the beginning, and we can be a really impactful nonprofit,” he says.
It’s easy to forget just how bad our water is, until something reminds us. “All water is clear when it starts out, and we mess it up. That’s wrong,” Steve says. That doesn’t stop Steve, or anyone on the W2W board, from their efforts to work together and make a difference in cleaner water. “It’d be amazing if I could go to a local stream and drink out of it. That feels like a longshot, but that’s the dream.”