Raleigh Environmental Awards & Grant Winners Announced

The 10th Annual Raleigh Environmental Awards were held April 25th, 2017, recognizing outstanding environmental stewardship in our community. In addition, special mini-grants were awarded to innovative urban agriculture projects in Raleigh, and contest winners were announced in student competitions to design public service announcements about protecting our water quality and to design unique fashions from recycled and re-purposed materials.

The ceremony was held in A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Recognized were individuals and organizations who have accomplished outstanding work in protecting the environment and promoting sustainability in the Capital City. Mayor Nancy McFarlane provided the welcome address and a video produced by the City’s Raleigh Television Network, “10 Years of Raleigh Environmental Stewardship,” was shown at the ceremony.

The City of Raleigh has presented the Environmental Awards every year since 2008. Awards were given in eight categories tonight:

  • Apiopolis, a nonprofit bee sanctuary in Raleigh, received the Emerging Business Award for promoting natural and sustainable beekeeping practices with a focus on conservation, education and research. With 17 sites across Raleigh, Apiopolis is dedicated to raising awareness about the harmful impacts of chemical herbicides and pesticides on honey bees and other pollinators, which the company says are indicator species for environmental health;
  • N.C. State’s Zero Waste in the Workplace (ZWW) program was given the Education Award. ZWW diverted more than 2,300 pounds of compost and increased recycling by 11.2 percent at three campus buildings during the last six months of 2016. The program’s bin optimization component was so successful that at least 21 additional campus locations have requested ZWW;
  • Greg Fishel, chief meteorologist at WRAL-TV since 1989 known for his sense of humor and professional integrity, captured the Individual Award. Mr. Fishel was a climate skeptic for many years but changed his views after using a scientific approach to test his hypothesis and evaluate the results. He has chronicled his journey in a documentary, “Greg Fishel: Exploring Climate Change” and written on the subject, thrusting himself into the front lines of a national debate on climate change;
  • The Legacy Award was given to Jean Spooner, Ph.D., a longtime Extension professor and water quality specialist at N.C. State. Ms. Spooner exemplifies a lifelong commitment to improving the environment and, following a 34-year career at N.C. State, she still continues to lead water and air quality projects. She has been involved in numerous local conservation efforts and organizations;
  • Advocates for Health in Action and Wake County Planning shared the Organization Award for helping to advance a policy change making it easier for local urban agricultural enterprises to succeed. In January, the Wake County Board of Commissioners approved the Agricultural Amendment to the county’s Unified Development Ordinance. The amendment strengthens economic growth by supporting farmers, boosting local food sales and keeping agricultural land in production;
  • WakeUP Wake County captured the Raleigh Environmental Stewardship Award for advocating for expanding public transit. Since 2008, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization has been in the forefront of educating and engaging citizens and decision-makers in supporting policies for sustainable, healthy and livable communities. WakeUP supported legislation giving Triangle counties the authority to hold a sales tax referendum to fund transit. This led to Wake County voters approving a half-cent sales tax last year;
  • The Built Environmental Award recognizing a project-in-progress was presented to the Purple Martin Community Farm. As envisioned, the 6-acre vegetable farm in the 5401 North neighborhood will encourage a strong, vibrant community centered on agriculture and healthy living. The farm will provide activities for both children and adults, including learning about growing vegetables and healthy eating; and,
    • In the Urban Agriculture category, presented by the City of Oaks Foundation, winners also received a mini-grant to help fund innovative urban agriculture projects in our community. This year's grant recipients were:
      • A Kind Garden,
      •  A Safe Place Child Enrichment Center,
      • Alliance Medical Ministry,
      • Camden Street Learning Garden (a project of Interfaith Food Shuttle),
      • The Health and Nutrition through Urban Gardening program at Urban Ministries,
      • Joyner and Wildwood Forest elementary schools,
      • Liberty Community Gardens,
      • Longview school's FFA Chapter,
      • Pam’s School of Raleigh,
      • Timberlake Estates, and
      • The Women’s Campus Healing Transitions program of the Wake County Agricultural Extension's Master Gardener's program. 

Also honored tonight were winners in the Streams and Stormwater Video Competition sponsored by the City of Raleigh Stormwater Management Division. The videos focused on the negative impacts of stormwater runoff.

Finishing first in the competition was Julian Simoes who received a $500 cash prize. Placing second was Chloe Wen, who was given a $300 cash prize; and capturing third place was the team of Jacob Fletcher, Carla Fuller and Anton Baeza which received a $200 cash prize.

Also presented at tonight’s Environmental Awards ceremony was the winner of the Trashion Design Competition sponsored by the City of Raleigh Solid Waste Services Department. The competition is designed to encourage individuals ages 14 and older to repurpose materials destined for the landfill into a fashion statement.

Mary Thuma finished first in the Trashion Design Competition. She won a $500 cash prize. Honorable mention and $100 cash prizes went to Sarah Evans Nicholson and Lindy Stark.

The City of Raleigh’s Environmental Awards celebration, done in partnership with the City of Oaks Foundation, is made possible through generous donations from sponsors who share the vision of environmental stewardship for the Raleigh community. In addition to the City of Oaks Foundation, these sponsors are US Foods, Hazen & Sawyer, AECOM, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Dewberry, Duncklee & Dunham, HDR, S&ME, SEPI Engineering & Construction, Sonoco Recycling, WRAL, WasteZero, Morningstar Law Group, the Law Offices of F. Bryan Brice Jr., OBS Landscaping Architects, and Trophy Brewing Company.