This year is the 40th anniversary of the North Carolina Coastal Federation, which sprouted from an idea in 1982 to protect the state’s coast to a steadily growing nonprofit with three offices and dozens of staff.
The Coastal Federation’s work can be seen all along the North Carolina coast, and the organization works with thousands of folks and other organizations in lots of different ways to ensure a healthy, productive coast.
You can support all of the Coastal Federation’s efforts Saturday night at the annual Pelican Awards and Taste of the Coast at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. Tickets are still available online at nccoast.org.
Celebrated since 2003, the Coastal Federation’s 2022 Pelican Awards will honor 12 volunteers, businesses, agencies and organizations that contribute to a healthy coast. The ceremony is to begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be streamed in real time on the federation’s Facebook page via Facebook Live for those who are unable to attend.
“Even though it takes about 1% inspiration and 99% hard work to protect and restore our coast, we could not be successful without the uplifting and energizing enthusiasm and creativity that our Pelican Award winners provide,” Coastal Federation Executive Director Todd Miller said. “They each inspire us to reach higher, farther, and more consistently to improve our stewardship of the coast — and to make sure the coast we have inherited stays healthy and productive for future generations.”
Three members of the federation staff work behind the scenes on the online news source you’re reading now, Coastal Review, and will be at the Pelican Awards to congratulate the winners.
“The Coastal Federation launched Coastal Review to inform the public about important coastal environmental issues,” said Mark Hibbs, editor, Coastal Review. “We strive each day to do great journalism and your support of the Coastal Federation also makes our reporting possible. I urge all our readers to help us congratulate the Pelican Award winners, eat some delicious NC oysters and celebrate everything that’s great about the coast Saturday in Morehead City.”
Guests are welcome to check in when the doors open at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, an hour before the ceremony starts. After checking in, they can grab a drink and check out the dozens of silent auction items including weekend trips, boat tours, artwork, live music and local seafood.
The Taste of the Coast follows the award ceremony at 6:30 p.m., when guests can enjoy fresh oysters from Carolina Gold Oyster Co., Crystal Coast Oysters, Core Sound Oyster Co., Ghost Fleet Oyster Co., N.Sea.Oyster Co, Oysters Carolina, Roysters NC, Shepherd’s Point Oyster Co. and White Oak Oyster Co. There will also be heavy hors de oeuvres by Class Act Catering based in Emerald Isle.
The event includes a raffle to win a stand-up paddleboard. Raffle entries include a commemorative 40th anniversary federation aluminum pint glass. The raffle drawing will be at 8 p.m.
The auction, which is paperless, opened June 30 and new items are continuously added. To view the auction before the event, visit the online bidding page. The auction will close at 8:15 p.m.
Cash, check or credit card payment will be accepted for auction items, but making a bidding profile with a credit card ahead of the event will make for a faster checkout experience.
Organizers encourage guests to review the latest guidelines from the CDC to ensure a safe event for everyone. The federation will offer basic face masks and hand sanitizer and guests can take advantage of the outdoor patio. Anyone who has been exposed to COVID-19 or who is showing any symptoms are encouraged not attend the event to protect the health of other guests.
The 2022 Pelican Awards coastwide winners are Susan Hill, who is key in the expanding mariculture industry; the North Carolina Department of Transportation Hydraulics Unit, which has embraced natural solutions to stormwater management and erosion control; and former Coastal Federation board president Don Easley for his long-term environmental leadership.
Susan Hill and her family run Down East Mariculture, a nursery in Smyrna producing oyster seed for growers. She started a commercial hatchery where she grows her own oyster spat, reducing the amount that has to be imported. She serves on both the statewide strategic mariculture plan committee and the North Carolina Oyster Trail.
The NCDOT Hydraulics Unit is part of the department’s Highway Stormwater Program and works to protect and improve water quality. The team has installed innovative stormwater retrofit projects and is currently installing a livings shoreline in Carteret County. Since 2020, they have been part of developing the Nature-based Stormwater Strategies Action Plan released by the federation and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2021. The unit is currently updating their stormwater design manual to include more nature-based stormwater policies and design standards for transportation projects.
Dr. Don Ensley was the first board president when the North Carolina Coastal Federation was formed in 1982. Ensley worked with the federation’s very small staff to help them connect with community leaders and funders. He served as board president for about 10 years until he was appointed as a member of the state Environmental Management Commission by then-Gov. Jim Hunt.
Winners were also selected for each coastal region.
- Angie Wills for Leadership and Dedication to Coastal Protection, Outreach, and Engagement.
- Cyndy Holda for Exceptional Volunteer Contributions to Our Coast.
- Ivy Cage for Outstanding Youth Volunteer Commitment.
Central coast winners
- City of Jacksonville Stormwater Division for Innovative Efforts to Reduce Marine Debris.
- Mary-Margaret Mckinney for Promoting and Increasing the Use of Living Shorelines in North Carolina.
- Beaufort, Havelock, And Morehead City (Sunshine Lady) Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plain for Longtime Excellence in Community Engagement and Education.
- Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol Unit for Exemplary Efforts to Reduce Marine Debris.
- Jason and Beverly Simas, Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar, Surf City for Business Sustainability.
- Davis Canal Marsh Cleaners of Oak Island for Outstanding Volunteer Contributions to Our Coast.