The Houston Sierra Club presented awards at the December 13, 2018 general meeting. The Awards Committee consisted of Kristen Schlemmer, Carol Lee, Brandt Mannchen, and an anonymous Sierra Club member. The Committee solicited and selected recipients for all Houston Sierra Club awards except for the Environmental Reporting and Special Service Awards, which were chosen by the Houston Sierra Club Executive Committee. The awards presented were in appreciation for services rendered by members and non-members.
No award was given for the Brom Wilkin Award, the highest award that the Houston Group gives.
The Conservation Award, which is given to a Club member who has worked diligently on a particular conservation issue or who has revitalized the conservation efforts of the Houston Group, was given to Evelyn Merz. Evelyn has been a conservation stalwart for the Houston Sierra Club for decades. In recent years she has focused on flooding, parks, and Big Bend National Park issues. We all owe Evelyn a long-term debt of gratitude for her work and her focus.
In 2018 the Outings Service Award, which is given to a member who has contributed to the Houston Group’s Outings Program, was presented to Tom Douglas. Tom is much more than an outings leader. He is a water and river lover and advocate. His outings to the Lake Charlotte Area on the Trinity River, called “Cypress Wonderland”, are legendary and his knowledge of how rivers work, where they go, and how you should visit them (with humility and a sense of adventure) is as complete as you can get.
The Service Award is given to Sierra Club members who contribute significantly to the administrative side of the Houston Sierra Club. Carol Woronow and Elizabeth Spike were given the Service Award.
Carol Woronow has been involved with the Houston Sierra Club since coming back to Houston. Her work on the Bayou Banner as an editor, and now pitching in to help as webmaster until we get another person trained, are exemplary. She can make anyone’s article look good while keeping their original tone in place. Thank you, Carol!
Elizabeth Spike was Chair of our Executive Committee for a year and one-half before she had to leave in August to go to the wilds of Washington, D.C. She served on the Houston Sierra Club Executive Committee and did an outstanding job of reaching out to others to expand the “big tent” philosophy of the Sierra Club.
The Unsung Sierran Award, is for members behind the scenes who have strengthened the Houston Sierra Club and exemplified its Spirit and Commitment. This award was presented to Michael James Beck and David Boyd.
Michael James Beck, who just retired after serving many years as our webmaster, is the most unobserved but incredibly talented Sierran around. His work was quick and on the money every time and he upgraded and made our website look outstanding. We wish you well in your new pursuits.
David Boyd exemplifies the Unsung Sierran Award. David is not an outings leader or on the Houston Sierra Club Executive Committee but can be found at general meetings and outings preaching the “Sierra Club Gospel” of public lands protection and joy. Whenever, there is a need for someone to help with prairie restoration, forest exploration, or being the “drag” on a Sierra Club outing David is there.
For 2018, the Fundraising Award was given to Lorraine Gibson and her sister, Brenda Bartlett for their long-term fundraising efforts at the Houston Sierra Club’s annual fundraiser. Without their efforts the Houston Sierra Club would not be solvent. Their attention to detail and kitchen catering kept Sierra Club donors’ “bellies” filled at our Houston Sierra Club fundraisers. Thank you, Lorraine and Brenda!
The Houston Sierra Club Executive Committee chooses awardees for the Environmental Reporting Award, which is given to the person who has produced an outstanding series or single report on an environmental issue which concerns the Houston Group’s Regional Area. Awardees in 2018 included Pat Greer and Frank Bajack.
Pat Greer has hosted “Eco-ology” for more years that she wants to count. She and her partner, H.C. Clark, bring local, state, national, and international environmental news and interviews every week to KPFT on Tuesdays from 3 to 4 pm. Pat likes a local perspective on issues, has been a real friend of the Sierra Club, and helps get our message out.
Frank Bajack works for the Associated Press in Boston. The series “Silent Spills” was written by Frank and reporters for the Houston Chronicle. This series recounts the vast toxic legacy that occurred during and after Hurricane Harvey due to industry air, water, and land contimination.
A Special Service Award is given to a member or non-members who has performed some special duty for or which benefits the Houston Sierra Club. In 2018, a Special Service Award was given to Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead and the Exploration Green Conservancy.
Citizens Against the Landfill in Hempstead were victorious after a long-term battle to prevent the Pintail Landfill from being sited in their part of the Katy Prairie. Their persistent, “bulldog attitude”, and grassroots efforts led to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality rejecting the landfill permit application, an event that is almost unheard of in Texas.
Exploration Green Conservancy is another local group that exemplifies the Sierra Club’s “grassroots” ethos. Local residents down near Clear Lake and Ellington Airport, saw the value in saving an old golf course from development and then turning it into a community asset that reduces flooding, increases public park land, provides for wildlife habitat via wetlands, wildflower, and tree plantings, and gives people a place to walk in a great natural setting.
All of our award winners are different people from different backgrounds. However, they all have one thing in common, a respect and protective attitude for the environment we all live in. Here, here, to all of them during this festive holiday reason!