TCPalm: Keep Martin Beautiful celebrates 2018 Environmental Stewardship Award winners
By: Tiffany Smith, For Luminaries
More than 35 nominees including youth groups, individuals, businesses, government agencies and nonprofit organizations, were honored at the 2018 Keep Martin Beautiful Environmental Stewardship Awards ceremony Feb. 7 at Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club.
Nearly 200 guests attended the event to recognize the nominees’ outstanding efforts in community beautification and revitalization, litter and marine debris removal, product innovations and environmental education initiatives. Also, serving as the organization’s key fundraiser, the event raised nearly $25,000 to support its mission to improve and enhance the quality of life in Martin County.
“This was a really impressive group of nominees this year,” said Craig Ahal, president of Keep Martin Beautiful. “Our community cares deeply about the environment. The projects and initiatives undertaken by our nominees give us great hope for the future of Martin County and our planet.”
Before the awards were announced, guests bid on silent auction items that were, not surprisingly, all themed to complement Keep Martin Beautiful’s mission, including three 50-gallon recycling bins painted by local artists with sea turtles and other sea life, tropical leaves and flowers.
Other unique activities included an entertaining trivia game where tables competed against one another to answer questions about the organization, with answers that could all be found hidden in the program booklet.
“It was a more engaging way for us to connect our guests with Keep Martin Beautiful’s mission,” said Stacy Ranieri, one of the emcees for the evening and Keep Martin Beautiful’s first executive director in 1996.
Twelve awards were given out during the course of the evening, including the Trailblazer Award, created in memory of Alto “Bud” Adams Jr., an iconic rancher, pioneering cattle breeder, avid environmentalist and wildlife photographer who died in September 2017 at age 91. The Carlton Family won this inaugural award for their environmental stewardship and conservation practices on their Bull Hammock Ranch in western Martin County, serving as an inspiration to others in the agricultural industry.
The River Advocate Award was named in memory of Don Voss, who also died in 2017. It was presented to George Caulkins and his Caulkins Water Farm, where an inactive citrus grove now serves as a receiving and holding reservoir for water from Lake Okeechobee and the C-44 watersheds and helps improve the health of the St. Lucie River and estuary.
The Keep Martin Beautiful Staff Choice Award was given in memory of Valerie Jean Wright, who died unexpectedly in November.
In describing Wright to the crowd, Ranieri said that “she gave selflessly of her time and talent to so many organizations but her passion was water. For years, she volunteered with Florida Oceanographic, collecting water on a weekly basis to be analyzed for its quality and did not shy any from the most mundane of tasks in support of our fragile ecosystem.”
It was the most touching moment of the otherwise festive evening as the award was accepted by her husband Tim Wright and parents Marian and Frank Neff.
Nearly two dozen sponsors provided financial and in-kind support to Keep Martin Beautiful for the event, for which the organization is grateful: City of Stuart; Cook Electric; Crown Trophies; The Firefly Group; Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa; Interstate Recycling of Florida; Jenkin’s Landscape; The Kiplinger Foundation; Mancil’s Complete Sitework; Martin County Solid Waste; Martin County Commissioners, Ed Ciampi, District 5; n2 architecture + design; Piper’s Landing Yacht & Country Club; Reich & Mancini, P.A.; Sailor’s Return; Steppling Family Subways; Students4H2O; The UPS Store; Wallace Nissan; Waste Management; and Whiticar Boat Works.
2018 Environmental Stewardship Award Winners
- Community Improvement Award: House of Hope, Golden Gate Center for Enrichment
- Raleigh “Riley” Jackson Government Award: Martin County Board of County Commissioners, St. Lucie Shores Water Quality Project
- Grassroots Advocacy Award: Palm City Farms Trails Association, Trail Preservation and Conservation
- Innovation Award: The Pine School’s InvenTeam, Innovative Water Quality Technology
- KMB Presidents Award: Niki Norton, n2 architecture + design
- Litter & Marine Debris/Unsung Hero Award: Nicky Campbell, Litter and Marine Debris Removal
- Neighborhood Revitalization Award: Gomez Cemetery Restoration, MOSES Project
- Recycling Champion: Wendy Parker, Ink Cartridge Recycling Initiative
- Donald "Capt. Don" Voss River Advocate Award: George Caulkins & The Caulkins Water Farm
- Staff Choice Award: Val Jean Wright, Florida Oceanographic Society Volunteer in Oyster and Seagrass Restoration
- Alto “Bud” Adams Jr. Trailblazer Award: The Carlton Family, Bull Hammock Ranch
- Youth Education & Engagement Award: Students4H2O, Plastic Bag Recycling Initiative