Jake Vitek, a ranger at Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro, recently took second place in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources Sustainability Awards Contest. This contest recognizes N.C. DENR employees that show "initiative in implementing programs that result in or promote responsible environmental stewardship within the department." These efforts provide direct environmental benefits and often result in cost savings as well.
Vitek's project was the action partnership for his North Carolina Environmental Education Certification. All state park rangers are required to become EE Certified. The program requires 200 hours of environmental education workshops and outdoor experiences, which includes a project which benefits their community. The enrollee must also work with partners from the community to complete the project. The certification program is coordinated by the N.C. Office of Environmental Education and Public Affairs.
Vitek worked with a local boy scout that needed an Eagle Scout project to develop a program to make Bear Island trash free. It involved building boxes that hold biodegradable bags visitors now use to carry out all trash--all trash cans were removed. Visitors also had to be educated about the new policies. The park has already seen benefits in reduced litter, cost savings and better habitat for wildlife. You can read the full story in the Tideland News.