Contact Information: Dawn Harris-Young (email@example.com)
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ATLANTA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recognized Sharon Gincauskas with a second place 2017 Gulf Guardian Award in the Individual Category at an awards ceremony held at the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear, Alabama.
“Whether for individual recreational use or as an economic engine supporting a wide variety of jobs and industry, the Gulf of Mexico is a vibrant yet vulnerable ecosystem,” said Ben Scaggs, Gulf of Mexico Program Director. “Protecting this national resource requires innovative approaches and proactive measures. The Gulf Guardian award winners are paving the way for “out of the box” thinking and replicable practices.”
Sharon Gincauskas has single-handedly created a sustainable weekly beach clean-up involving volunteers spanning the entire Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach communities. Each Saturday morning, year round, Sharon presides over a one-hour shore clean up, directing the volunteers, providing the supplies and at the end of the hour processing the collected marine debris and disposing of the trash. Sharon’s efforts began four years ago when she went out to clean up by herself. Soon after she brought in friends and neighbors to help clean up and today she has a volunteer roster numbering over 200 people, creating Ocean Hour in the process.
Sharon’s hard work and accomplishments can be measured in the tons of marine debris removed from northwest Florida’s shores and watersheds, over two tons of trash thus far in 2016 alone. And her accomplishments are noticed in the warm reception she receives from the community who come out to support her clean-up efforts each Saturday morning. Sharon is making a difference - local residents, businesses and organizations are paying attention and getting involved. Ocean Hour has won a supporting grant, been featured in the local press, was invited to join an environmental board and has been included in school events and clubs learning about local environmental activities. Two local universities, the Scouts and local military personnel, among others, work with Sharon to better the shores and waters in our area.
The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.
The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.
More information about the Gulf of Mexico Program: www.epa.gov/gmpo