Annual Environmental Awards


The Environmental Achievement Award 

Walter Burke (nominated by Stan Dimock)

Although Walter Burke does not reside in the Town of Bristol, nor does his job description require him to promote environmental awareness or advocacy, Walter has incorporated Save The Bay’s mission into everything he accomplishes in his professional capacity as the Director of the Town of Bristol’s Department of Parks and Recreation.  Walter has successfully applied for and received literally hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Town of Bristol, always with habitat restoration at the forefront of every project he undertakes.

Walter collaborated with Wenley Ferguson and Save The Bay in the restoration of the Silver Creek salt marsh in Bristol.  The Department of Parks and recreation now maintains the public park at this site. 

Most recently, Walter undertook an ambitious restoration project of the Bristol Town Beach and the surrounding fields and parking areas to effect an 80% improvement in the water quality of Narragansett Bay at the Town Beach.  By regrading the area, including retention ponds and swales, and by adding native vegetation to the site, he has eliminated a significant amount of polluted runoff from entering the Bay, thereby dramatically reducing the number of beach closures due to contamination at this popular public swimming site.

Walter’s commitment to incorporating an environmental element in all of his professional efforts makes him quite worthy of recognition by Save The Bay, especially now that his work on the Bristol Town Beach is completed.

The Alison J. Walsh Award for Outstanding Environmental Advocacy 

Charlotte Sornborger (nominated by Virginia Brown)

The Barrington Land Conservation Trust would like to nominate Charlotte Sornborger of Barrington, Rhode Island, for the 2014 Alison Walsh Award for Outstanding Environmental Advocacy.

Charlotte has been an outstanding environmental advocate for many years, leading the Barrington Land Conservation Trust (BLCT) in its early years as President and continuing to play an active role as a Board Member today, 36 years later. Her work as President and Board Member built the BLCT into a successful conservation organization, and her tireless advocacy for the environment and for conservation has left a permanent legacy of beautiful protected places in Barrington. She is a skilled, enthusiastic, and respected teacher, mentor, and scientist, a passionate conservationist with invaluable knowledge of local, state, and regional issues. 

The Barrington Land Conservation Trust believes that Charlotte is an excellent candidate for Save The Bay’s 2014 Environmental Achievement Award.  Although her work has been based in Barrington, the results of her efforts reach far beyond this town’s borders. Land acquisition projects led by Charlotte have resulted in protection of land directly on Narragansett Bay’s shores, thus contributing to the health of the Bay ecosystem. Students that Charlotte has mentored, taught, and supervised have gone on to careers in conservation, having positive impacts beyond Rhode Island. Her achievements and her no nonsense approach to getting things done continue to inspire and motivate her co-workers at the Land Trust and elsewhere.

Volunteers of The Year

Dave Gumbley and Bob Haiken

Over the last few years, Dave and Bob have quietly “made their mark” by performing some heavy duty labor for Save The Bay, and all of it free of charge.  Together, they have logged countless volunteer hours constructing shelving units in the Abrams Boat House, painting classroom walls, helping to a repair work at the Bay Center, and perhaps their most impressive accomplishment of all:  painting the exterior of the Bay Center, a project that consumed the better part of last summer, and all with little (if any) help from anyone else.

Dave Gumbley and Bob Haiken have followed similar volunteer paths at Save The Bay, starting their  volunteer journeys  in 2002.  Both gentlemen worked in the field performing restoration and monitoring work with our Habitat Team.  At one time earlier in his volunteer days at Save The Bay, Bob trained as a docent.  Dave assisted with shoreline cleanups.  They have both completed stints as CVS Charity Classic parking lot volunteers. 

Together, these two make a formidable team of do-it-yourselfers who have seemingly endless talents in allowing us to frugally – yet very capably – maintain our facilities in “ship shape.”  These men shun the spotlight, preferring to work quietly behind the scenes with little fanfare, but it is high time that we recognize them for their extraordinary commitment as volunteers for Save The Bay.  Congratulations are overdue for many tough jobs completed with finesse by this volunteer duo! 

Bay Educator of The Year

Christine Bean/ Mount Hope High School, Bristol

When it comes to Narragansett Bay, Ms. Bean always goes the extra mile for her students. She has been a participant in our Project Narragansett Teacher Academy and a collaborating teacher in our Narragansett Bay Field Studies program. Save The Bay’s Narragansett Bay Field studies program has been prioritized and a large requirement for her marine biology class for the past six years. She is independently integrating salt marsh cordgrass growing with her other younger environmental science groups. She enriches her students’ classroom experience by offering them hands-on, real life experiences in the field and on the Bay. 

Christine's 10th graders have tested water quality aboard Save The Bay’s education vessels, collected plankton and identified species under microscopes, and studied the behavior of harbor seals resting on rocks in the middle of Narragansett Bay. She also gets up at 5 a.m. to test water quality with Save Bristol Harbor all summer long and advocates for her students to participate. Two students who were in STB’s field studies program last year continued with water quality testing through the summer and are returning this summer to do it again after college! Bringing these valuable STEM learning opportunities to students takes a tremendous amount of extra time, work, energy, commitment and devotion. These are the kind of learning experiences that Ms. Bean brings to her students that allow students to feel inspired by their high school experience!

Ms. Bean is one of the most dedicated, thoughtful, and committed teachers with whom we work. She holds students accountable to curriculum standards and is extremely respected by her students. She stands out to us as a top notch professional and a huge asset to Mount Hope High School.

Bay Student of the year

Daniel Cryan

Daniel Cryan is a former Bay Camper and former Counselor in Training. Daniel has an overwhelming enthusiasm for the environment and Narragansett Bay. He took on a project as a camper to make a guide of marine life in Rhode Island. This guide is comprised of species he has viewed in their natural habitat and creating a comprehensive guide to help educate others. Through his work as a CIT Daniel has demonstrated a commitment to sharing his knowledge and experience, and he has stayed in contact with Save The Bay throughout his high school career as he has applied for numerous internships with local organizations to continue his work in helping the environment.

Daniel’s project can be viewed here

Read about our 2013 award winners