friends-hunting-island-awardThe South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has awarded its 2010 DHEC Earth Day Award to the Friends of Hunting Island State Park, Inc. (FOHI) for its Anti Litter events and companion environmental education and stewardship programs during 2009.

The awards were presented by Commissioner C. Earl Hunter at the April 14th awards presentation ceremony at SCDHEC’s headquarters in Columbia to FOHI representatives  former litter control Board member, Karen Whitehead who was instrumental in implementing the multi anti litter programs; present litter control Board member, Vicki Anne Nestor; FOHI President, Bonnie Wright; and HISP ranger, Ben Holmes.

Each year for the past 15 years FOHI has conducted two major clean-ups, in the spring and fall, of Hunting Island State Park.  During 2009, a record number of 373 volunteers for the two events collected over 1,000 pounds of trash from the beach, lagoon and trails, and an additional 4,000 pounds of cabin debris.  This unusual cabin debris was the result of the collapse of several beachfront cabins due to erosion.

Lending major support to FOHI members are several youth groups who return each year to help.  These groups include Wade-Hampton High School, Junior Navy ROTC students, the Interact community service group of high school students, and several Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs.  Also returning each year are members of The Rotary Club of the LowCountry who grill hamburgers and hotdogs for all the hard working volunteers..

Other FOHI environmental stewardship programs which were recognized by the Earth Day Awards Committee included the monofilament recycle program, “dogi pot” dispenser bags for park visitors with pets, and the educational outreach of environmental awareness through the FOHI booth at annual community Earth Day celebrations.

The judges also evaluated applicants on how they embodied the spirit of Earth Day.  On a day-to-day basis, the Friends’ nearly 800 member families, all-volunteer organization walks the walk and talks the talk of environmental stewardship either directly, through our activities at the park or indirectly through our community outreach programs and our in-kind and direct monetary contributions to the park’s projects. During 2009 FOHI hit a new record of 12,130 hours dedicated to helping park management and staff enrich the park experience of over 1.2 million visitors annually.

To read more about our award-winning projects or to find out more about FOHI go to our website at .