A local environmental awareness organization celebrated its 20th anniversary Tuesday night during an annual awards dinner.
Leaders of Keep Forsyth County Beautiful, which works to provide education and outreach programs throughout the county relating to environmental causes such as recycling, water cleanups and beautification efforts, reflected on some of the successes over the years.
Among the programs that have grown over the years have been the Adopt-a-Stream waterway monitoring program, which recently added an amphibian monitoring program, and the Adopt-A-Road program that encourages the public to clean up local roads.
Tammy Wright, director of KFCB, said the main mission of the organization is not to “tackle the problem,” but rather to involve the community so everyone takes ownership of the problem.
“The main thing that I want to reiterate is that KFCB is about personal responsibility,” she said. “Our mission is to involve the people, involve the organizations, the businesses, the community. Because when they take ownership, the problem gets better.”
As an example, she pointed to Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills who has worked for several months to foster a partnership between the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Department of Transportation in which prisoners will be used to pick up litter from the sides of the state roadways. “This will be every day, Monday through Thursday, for 10 hours a day,” said Mills, noting that the program should be implemented soon. “I’m hoping our state routes will see a great, great improvement and at no cost to the citizens.”
Several awards were also presented during the banquet, including the top student recognition of the year, which went to Hannah Testa, and the top educator award, going to Ken Fahey. Earlier this year, 12-year-old Testa organized, promoted and presented the viewing of the documentary “Plastic Paradise” at the Post Road Library. She also began her own campaign to encourage people to make different choices that will benefit the environment, such as not using one-time plastic drinking straws, water bottles and grocery bags.
Fahey, who retired this summer, was a longtime science instructor at North Forsyth High School who focused on hands-on, environmental education activities with his students. Lynne Castleberry, principal of Whitlow Elementary, received the administrator of the year award for her efforts to promote environmental education and activities at the school.
The volunteer of the year award went to South Forsyth High School teacher Chris Webb, who for the past five years has taken part in almost every KFCB activity and encourages his students to also get involved.
In addition, several elementary, middle and high schools were presented markers noting their status as “Green Schools,” meaning they recycle and take other environmentally-friendly actions. Several businesses and government entities were also honored with sponsorship recognitions.