I hadn’t planned on taking photos at this year’s Environmentalist of the Year Awards, hosted by NMEAC at the Dennos Museum in Traverse City on Friday night. I was there to hand off the award in the Journalism category to this year’s recipient, which I was happy to do, along with my co-winner last year, Stephanie Mills.
But when you walk in the door and your dear longtime friend Ann Rogers asks if you brought your camera, you say, “Why, of course I did, and I’d be honored to take photos!” Which is just what I did, and happy to do it.
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Ann’s daughter, Sally Rogers, is one of my best friends in the world and a well-known artist who brought her exceptional work to the Dennos Museum a couple of years ago (read about it here).
Ann, who at 89 has more energy than anyone I know, co-chairs NMEAC (Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council), with Greg Reisig. Each year at the NMEAC Environmentalist of the Year Awards, they hand out awards in a variety of categories to people doing amazing work all year long. Devoted volunteers who work on a variety of issues – clean energy, fresh water, smart development and more – to preserve and protect northern Michigan.
After a tasty spread of food catered by Taproot Cider House, a stirring keynote address by Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan, and a few songs by Seth Bernard (who recently launched Title Track, dedicated to building resilient social-ecological systems that support clean water, racial equity, and youth empowerment), the awards were announced in the following categories:
Student: Elk Rapids Indigenous Youth (Ava Willis-Carrol, Naya Pitawanakwat, Dadrian Pitawanakwat, Faith Norberg and A. J. Vanderbraden)
Educator: Kevin Kelly, The Greenspire School
Grass Roots Group: Seth Bernard, Clean Water Campaign for Michigan; and Tricia Denton, Leelanau County League of Women Voters
Journalism & Communications: Sheri McWhirter, Traverse City Record-Eagle
Business: JoAnn and Scott Zenner, Salon Verve
Public Service/Office: David Schaffer, Grand Traverse County Director of Recycling
Professional: Fred Sitkins, Inland Seas Education Association
Volunteer: Barbara Stamiris, Oil & Water Don’t Mix
General: Yarrow Brown, Leelanau Conservancy
Agriculture: Chad Van Tol, Cold Creek Permaculture Farm
John Nelson Water Stewardship Award: Glen Chown, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy
Golden Beaver Award: Susan Wheadon, NMEAC
Special Renewable Energy Award: Glenn LaCross, Leelanau Fruit
Clarence Kroupa Award: Dave Dempsey, Senior Advisor for FLOW (For Love of Water)
Golden Bulldozer Award: State Senator Wayne Schmidt, who voted in favor of the authorization of the Line 5 tunnel.
Check out a few photos from the event…
A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb