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Asheville GreenWorks salutes those who protect area mountains, rivers

Seven local organizations and individuals are recognized Thursday for their efforts to improve the environment. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Seven local organizations and individuals are recognized Thursday for their efforts to improve the environment.

Asheville GreenWorks held its 2017 Environmental Excellence Awards event to recognize their outstanding work. Winners were chosen based on several factors, including effectiveness and innovation, but most of all, their impact on local social, economic and ecological conditions.

Award winners
Susan B. Roderick Lifetime Achievement Award: Karen Cragnolin, champion of the French Broad River and former executive director of Riverlink.
Individual: Willie Mae Brown, active volunteer and community advocate. She worked for more than 26 years as a volunteer with Quality Forward/Asheville GreenWorks.
Organization: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, whose Green Team has gone above and beyond to make the sanctuary environmentally sustainable with features such as rainwater catchment plantings and energy efficient lighting fixtures.
Business: Highland Brewing Company, for successfully working to achieve efficiencies in beer production and follow sustainability measures in its tasting room and throughout its facility, including wastewater pretreatment and solar power.
Education: French Broad River Academy, for its commitment to experiential education that includes strong environmental and service learning components.
Youth: Luke Shealy, North Buncombe High School student who has completed several environmental service projects and is organizing businesses, educational institutions, and community members for a March for Science in Asheville on Earth Day.
Golden Shovel Award for an innovative, collaborative project that demonstrates a commitment to environmental sustainability: New Belgium Brewing, City of Asheville, and Equinox Environmental, whose project included the implementation of stream restoration, greenway, stormwater best management practices, native and pollinator plant species, and phytotechnology (using plants to help address brownfield conditions).

Longtime GreenWorks members said what they see today gives them hope for the future.

"I see all of these young people around here working on the environment and working so hard. They've taken what we started and just grown," retired GreenWorks executive director Susan Roderick said.

Asheville GreenWorks established the Environmental Excellence Awards in 1992, when the organization was known as Quality Forward.

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