Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sustainable Shawnee/OBU Win 2011 KOB Environmental Excellence for Community Garden

Each year Keep Oklahoma Beautiful (the state affiliate of Keep America Beautiful) holds a statewide Environmental Excellence Awards Competition to recognize the good works of Oklahomans for exceptional environmental improvement efforts. A statewide call for nominations goes out on June 1st for awards in a variety of categories. After a rigorous judging process, the top three finalists in each category are notified and invited to attend the Environmental Excellence Awards Banquet in November. This highly anticipated event is well attended and full of fun, surprises, inspiring stories, good food and entertainment. Each finalist is honored with a media presentation telling the story of their achievements just before the winners in each category are revealed. In early October, Sustainable Shawnee received news from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful that the Community Garden of Shawnee had been selected as a finalist for the 2011 Environmental Excellence Award for Community Effort.

On November 10, Timothy McCollum, director of the garden and assistant professor of anthropology at Oklahoma Baptist University, accompanied by four OBU students - Chad Ward, JoBeth Hamon, Janeth Carreon, and Cody Yount - attendedthe 21st Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Banquet hosted at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. The evening proved eventful, not only because the garden was presented and honored as a finalist, but because it was declared the winner and was one of five statewide projects honored as "Best of the Best."

During the acceptance of the award, McCollum addressed the audience, "I would like to thank the organization and institution that formed the working partnership to establish the garden, namely, the active and generous membership of Sustainable Shawnee and Oklahoma Baptist University, especially those students, faculty, and members of the Student Government Association who been supportive and involved. And it would be remiss not to express gratitude to Larry and Barbara Smith for the land, to Direct Colors, to Shawnee Sawmill, to Minick Materials (Oklahoma City), and to the many neighbors and local participants who have helped bring the garden to life." McCollum concluded, "This recognition by Keep Oklahoma Beautiful is a testament to the dedication and work of many wonderful people, all devoted to cultivating a modest idea into beautiful fruition. Indeed, the garden motto captures the essence of our community effort: Let's Grow Together!"

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