TCPalm: Statewide environmental conference showcases Martin County's beauty
By Tiffany Smith, for TCPalm
By every measurement, the Keep Florida Beautiful annual statewide conference, hosted by Keep Martin Beautiful in Martin County this year, was a huge success. Nearly 100 participants representing 43 Keep Florida Beautiful affiliates from across the state gathered at the Hutchinson Island Marriott from June 7-9 to share ideas for improving cities and counties throughout Florida while they enjoyed a taste of Martin County’s natural beauty and small-town charm.
Craig Ahal, president of Keep Martin Beautiful’s board of directors, and Keep Florida Beautiful executive director Mary Jean Yon welcomed participants to the Awards Banquet on the first evening and honored 10 affiliates with awards for outstanding work in improving and beautifying communities and effectively promoting environmental stewardship and recycling and litter removal activities.
Keep Martin Beautiful won a statewide award during the conference for coordination of the Gomez Cemetery cleanup project in Hobe Sound, which took place in March. More than 200 volunteers removed 87,500 pounds of vegetative waste from the historic cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair over the decades, with more than 250 cubic yards of debris hauled from the site. Keep Martin Beautiful partnered with Lloyd Jones, a Hobe Sound resident who spearheaded the project, along with Jenkins Landscaping, Capps’ Roofing, Tony’s Tree Service, Creech Engineering, Bowman Consulting, the New Allen Temple A.M.E. Church and many other volunteers.
Conference attendees participated in two days of training and best practices sessions on topics ranging from recycling, data management, media outreach, fundraising, and board development to an engaging legislative panel update from executive director of Stetson Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience Clay Henderson, president of Public Affairs Consultants, Inc. Keyna Cory , and Martin County Commission vice chair Ed Ciampi.
“This was the most-well planned and executed conference in our history,” executive director Yon said.
Attendees received educational training and also had an opportunity to enjoy local dining and shopping in downtown Stuart and other parts of Martin County. They also got to explore area beaches and cultural offerings such as the Florida Oceanographic Center and the Elliott Museum.
Conference sponsors included: Keep Florida Beautiful, Martin County Solid Waste, Florida Department of Transportation, Florida Power & Light, Waste Management, Martin County Office of Tourism, Mulligan’s Beach House Bar & Grill, Crary Buchanan Attorneys at Law and The Firefly Group.
Keep Martin Beautiful (KMB) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit community organization founded in 1994 as an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful. Its mission is to preserve and enhance the quality of life in Martin County through litter prevention, the promotion of recycling, improvement of solid waste management practices, and beautification and community revitalization activities. KMB signature events and programs include the Environmental Stewardship Awards, the International Coastal Cleanup, the Great American Cleanup, the Adopt-A-Road and Adopt-A-Street programs, and other educational and outreach activities. Find KMB on Facebook at facebook.com/KeepMartinBeautiful, on Twitter at twitter.com/KMBmartin, visit KeepMartinBeautiful.org or call 772-781-1222.