Time to get your Green on

out natcornNo, I’m not late. I’m not talking about puking green beer or waking up with Leprechauns — I’m talking about green with a capital “G.”

Wild South will present its 6th Annual “Green Gala” in honor of 2013’s Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Award winners at The Orange Peel, in Asheville starting at 7 p.m. Friday March 21. 

Wild South was created in 2007 with the merger of The Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, a regional nonprofit based in Asheville focused on defending and restoring the native biodiversity of the Southeast and Wild South, a grassroots environmental group created in 1991 in Moulton, Ala., dedicated to protecting the forests of Alabama and across the South. Wild South is headquartered in Asheville with offices in Moulton.

The Roosevelt-Ashe awards began in 2008. They are named for two giants in conservation: Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, who established five national parks — Crater Lake, Wind Cave, Platt, Sullys Hill and Wind Cave — and established the U.S. Forestry Service. Ashe was the first forester hired by the state of North Carolina and figured prominently in the creation of national forests across the East.

According to Ben Colvin, development director at Wild South, “We believe it’s vital to recognize and celebrate the incredible work being done to unite voices for environmental protection, to promote conservation science and education, to advocate for wildlife and to protect cultural heritage on public lands.”

Nominees were selected in five categories — Outstanding Journalist, Outstanding Business, Outstanding Conservationist, Outstanding Educator and Outstanding Youth. To see who the nominees, are please go to www.wildsouth.org/wild-south-announces-conservation-award-finalists/  as there is no way I could dedicate the space it would take to review all of these deserving nominees. You can Google any of them to learn more.

I want to use what little space I have left to talk about what I consider to be a wonderful innovative change at the Green Gala. For the first time, the general public is welcomed under the big tent. Tickets are available for $35 at https://org.salsalabs.com/o/1919/p/ salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=81478. 

Just the food, provided by The Green Sage and featuring Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Smiling Hara Tempeh and Earth Fare plus craft beer from the French Broad Brewing Company, wine from Sour Grapes and live music are more than worth admission. But the event is so much more, and I applaud Wild South for making it more accessible.

These nominees are surely conservation heroes, but they are also members of the community: they are business owners, teachers, scientists, students, environmentalists, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They are people just like you and me, with a passion for the wild and a vision that our universe is as Thomas Berry said, “… a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”

Maybe you’re an entrepreneur looking for ways to make your business greener, or a teacher looking for innovative ways to interest students in the environment, or a parent whose child has been asking, “What can I do to help the environment?” Can you think of a better place to network — to watch and listen — to learn how other citizens have been able to channel their passions?

Or maybe you are there to lend your voice; your support; your appreciation to these dedicated citizens — show ‘em you got their back — because that is of great importance to those heroes and to the causes they champion.

And, by all means, feel free to deck out in your best forest green, but don’t worry; no one will pinch you if you don’t.

(Don Hendershot is a writer and naturalist. He can be reached a This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

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