Our 2009 Unsung Heroes

The President’s Hoot
by Richard H. Baker, Ph.D.
April 2009

Many people working together giving their time leads to accomplishing great things. Pelican Island Audubon’s philosophy on giving awards is that it is so important to thank and recognize those who have contributed to our chapter and our community. We believe it will encourage theirs and others’ further involvement. It documents the history and let’s everyone know about our activities. It is also an opportunity to make everyone aware of these unsung heroes as well as PIAS’s many initiatives. Finally, it makes all of us feel good that we are honoring others. This year more than in the past, our 2009 awards are given to folks who day in and day out contribute to our society. They make this a better place to live and improve our quality of life.

Board Member of the Year: Joe Carroll, in addition to his Scrub Jay Population Monitoring, (Jay Watch), has organized the Indian River Lagoon Coalition composed of 3 county chapters and other organizations to identify and stand up for the issues impacting our precious Lagoon, which is essential to our tourist and fishing industries let alone nature’s habitat diversity and food source.

Special Service Award: Billi Wagner. This is given to a PIAS member who has made special contribution or for outstanding service. Billi is our county’s Eagle Watch Coordinator monitoring and tracking Bald Eagles and has worked closely with our new affiliate chapter at Grand Harbor to install over 16 birdhouses.

Environmental Educator Award: Rosemary Badger started as a fulltime Naturalist with the Environmental Learning Center in 1999. (Her previous environmental education experience includes Gumbo Limbo Environmental Complex in Boca Raton and National Audubon Society in Miami.). Shortly after joining the ELC, Rosemary started the ELC preschool programs, Young Explorers Nature Hour, as well as Nature Nuggets where a parent and child come and learn to experience nature together. She also organizes the very popular ELC Summer Camps and teaches the youngest campers. In Rosemary’s own words, “Where else do you get to play outdoors, instill a love of being outdoors, play with young kids and get paid?” She is so “unsung” that when I told her about the award, she said “I think you have the wrong person, you must mean so and so at the ELC.” Thank you Rosemary for helping children and other visitors understand nature and its value.

Environmental Citizen: Coastal Tech set a great example for the county and are beginning to rightly be “Sung Heroes” as you may have seen their photo on the front page of the PJ. They have adopted Prange Island and are installing educational signs, restoring camping areas, removing the exotics, maintaining trails, and cleaning up bird endangering trash. Also most important, they are doing the Civil Engineering and having the survey work done Pro Bono for our new Audubon Education Center. Michael Walther and Jimmy Sellers accepted the award for Coastal Tech.

Environmental Landscaping: Elwood Holzworth and Brenda Davis, Indian River Soil and Water Conservation District are quietly responsible for planting 500 cypress trees with the help of the youth volunteer corps in 5 subdivisions around ponds each year for the next 3 years. Planting trees will prevent water evaporation and give us oxygen, helping our beleaguered planet.

Eleanor Kleckner Award: Bob Montanaro, our Office Manager has generously spent hours observing, photographing all steps of the production and surrounding wildlife on the Florida Cattle Ranch developing the Website promoting local sustainable agriculture and local history and speaking widely around the state. He has been our knowledgeable and artistic ambassador!

Maggy Bowman/Conservationist of the Year:
Keith McCully, Indian River County Stormwater Engineer,& Cliff Southard, Indian River County Project Engineer invented a mechanical method to clean up the Main Relief Canal Project of refuge and sediments
Himanshu Mehta, IRC Solid Waste Disposal District, expanded our county’s Recycling and Recovery Programs

President’s Award: George Glenn, Indian River County Attorney’s Office, Protecting Conservation Lands worked hard, saving the Sand Lakes Track from Development.

Special Recognition/Merit/Achievements Awards were given to:

Kristen and Mike Beck, Kayaks, Etc., for Public Environmental Education, Support of Local Environmental Initiatives, Green Business, and “Making Indian River County a Better Place to Live”

Habitat for Humanity, saving our ancient stored sun’s energy, they installed nonpolluting Solar Water Heaters in all 60 New Homes (Steps Toward Green Building : Construction Waste Recycling, Birdhouse Construction with scrap wood, follow Energy Star & FPL Build Smart). Andy Bowler, President and CEO accepted the award.

George F. Hamner, Jr., Chair of Indian River County Planning and Planning Commission, for his service to improve Indian River County by his special handling of the changes in the mining ordinances. There were very polarized positions and he guided the process forward in the P&Z.

Dr. Graham Cox, for over a year, has worked hard for our chapter in developing the program for the Audubon Academy we hosted last April , arranging the key note speaker and conducting a workshop, writing the Toyota Grant application and the present Quality of Life State of Florida Grant for $1,000, which we got. Leading this Project he has interviewed key community members and leaders to work together to be aware of environmental, economic and social issues impacting our quality of life in IRC, planning focus groups to identify valued qualities and through a community survey prioritizing them. Eventually this will lead to objective measures to demonstrate why IRC is a great place to live due to environmental regulations and growth management, unlike some counties.

We appreciate you!

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