Get to know Tom Peffer
For 40 some years, Tom Peffer has had an intentional pattern of volunteering across a variety of organizations within the community. He’s contributed his experiences, professional background as an attorney, and passions to different and “wide-ranging” organizations in the Cedar Rapids area.
To name a few, he served on the Linn County Conservation board for five years, including a year as president. He was a co-chair of the successful campaign to pass the $40 million Linn County Water and Land Legacy Bond. As the current president of the Linn County Trails Association board, he and the other LCTA board members “advocate for multi-purpose recreational trails throughout Linn County.” Similarly, he serves on the ConnectCR board, a project to revitalize Cedar Lake and build the Alliant Energy LightLine, a pedestrian bridge over the Cedar River.
About three years ago, Peffer was approached by Marty Lenss, the Eastern Iowa Airport (EIA) Director and founder of Wings2Water. Lenss asked if he would consider joining the organization’s board, and Peffer “was intrigued by the concept of using a new way to raise money to support water quality projects.”
While Peffer doesn’t consider himself a typical outdoor sportsman, he doesn’t fish or hunt, he is “an athletic person who enjoys the outdoors,” he says. He likes to spend time outside, playing tennis, golfing, biking, hiking, and walking. Oftentimes, some of those activities take him near Iowa’s waterways, but more importantly, “The idea of not having clean water in our local streams and rivers is disturbing. To think of nitrates, phosphates, fertilizers, pesticides and other pollutants being discharged into our waterways, and eventually ending up in the Gulf of Mexico, bothers me on a real basic level. If we can use Wings2Water to do something about it, that’s very appealing to me,” he says.
When Wings2Water first took off, “We were really excited, and we raised a fair amount of money. We funded two great, local projects,” Peffer says. The pandemic was an unexpected hurdle for everyone, but they persevered, and have spent the latter parts of 2022 and early months of 2023 working even closer with the EIA and SSP America.
With his professional experience as a lawyer, Peffer helped with early drafts of the contracts between Wings2Water and the EIA and SSP. Both partnerships have Peffer excited about the potential for Wings2Water to expand to additional airports in the Mississippi River watershed. With EIA as an example of the success that can be achieved in educating travelers and in raising money, other airports should be willing to get on board. With SSP as a partner, and with SSP’s ability to allow travelers to round-up on purchases, it’s easier than ever for other airports to say “yes” to joining the mission.
Peffer is passionate about community betterment and knows the potential that Wings2Water has to improve the water quality throughout the entire Mississippi River watershed. It’s a very simple concept that can have a big impact on our country’s landscape, economies, and lifestyles. “Everybody likes clean water. Wings2Water can help us achieve it,” he says.