Environmental Defenders of McHenry County celebrates five decades
Members of The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County gathered this spring at McHenry Country Club along the Fox River in McHenry for a special 50th anniversary dinner celebration to honor five decades of preserving and protecting the environment in McHenry County.
The evening included a membership meeting, awards ceremony, and more. Recipients of the four annual awards this year were:
• Volunteer of the Year Award -- The Green Read Book Store Volunteers for their passion for books, welcoming customer service, sharing the mission of The Environmental Defenders, flexibility with scheduling, and for making lhe adventure of opening a downtown bookstore possible and successful. Lori McConville presented the award to manager Pam Johnson;
• Young Defender Award -- Bailey Wise for his dedication to the environment as demonstrated through his volunteer efforts, supporting the causes of the Environmental Defenders, commitment to sustainable living, and setting an example of stewardship.
• Government Award -- The City of Woodstock for showing leadership on plastic waste reduction through passing an optional fee on single-use bags and collaborating on Styrofoam collection, for partnering on electric vehicle charging, for the willingness to experiment with utilizing effluent from their wastewater plant to pretreat roads against icing, supporting sustainable energy, showing a commitment to protecting our land and water and for the work and dedication of their Environmental Commission.
• Theta Award -- Bill Donato for his dedication and commitment to educate young people about environmental stewardship, for his leadership within The Environmental Defenders, for which he served many years, and for his position as director of the McHenry County Schools Environmental Education Program. Kim Hankins presented the award to Bill's wife, Elizabeth, in Bill's absence.
A special 15-minute Environmental Defenders' trailer of its documentary, "50 Years of Defending," produced by Steve Firak of Ahoj Productions, was screened for the first time as 220 members and guests watched inspiring interviews from those who were instrumental in building the organization, including past executive directors Greg Lindsey, Jerry Paulson, Lenore Beyer and Cindy Skrukrud, as well as those who will lead it into the future. The special guest speaker was Leslie Goddard, a historical actress who portrayed Rachel Carson, author of "Silent Spring," the groundbreaking novel that ignited the environmental movement in the late 1960s and early '70s.
Musical entertainment during the silent auction was provided by the Mark Bettcher Jazz Trio with Dundee-Crown high school student Ben Kanner on drums. Five special decade display boards were set up to share photos and articles from the past. The $50 per plate fundraising dinner raised over $4,000 for the organization to support its summer internship and Latino scholarship programs.
Founded in 1970, The Environmental Defenders of McHenry County is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c) 3 organization. In order to protect all living things, the Environmental Defenders is dedicated to the preservation and improvement of the natural environment in McHenry County. As a grass-roots organization, it is committed to building sound ecological relationships between people and the natural world that supports all life. Visit mcdef.org or www.facebook.com/EnvironmentalDefenders/.