Wild South, the Asheville-based nonprofit that works to protect all things wild across the Southeast, will hold its eighth annual Green Gala May 7.
The Green Gala, where the Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Awards are presented in categories including Outstanding Business and Outstanding Educator, usually have taken place in the winter. The move to spring setting is aimed at encouraging more attendees to make a mini vacation to Asheville in the warm weather, said Wild South communications coordinator Hannah Morgan.
The gala will also feature keynote speaker DeLene Beeland, Asheville-based author of “The Secret World of Red Wolves: The Fight to Save North America’s Other Wolf.” Beeland will address the history and current status of the endangered red wolf, of which there are fewer than 50 left in the wild.
Beeland’s book is the authoritative text on the red wolf. She narrates her experience in eastern North Carolina where the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has worked for two decades to bring the red wolf back to a self-sustaining population. Her investigative journalism and compelling narrative won her a nomination for the Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Award for Outstanding Conservation Journalist in 2015.
Once with an opportunity at full reintroduction to its native habitat in the Southeast, the red wolf now faces a very uncertain future. The recovery program is on the chopping block and the only population in the wild has dropped from 130 to fewer than 50 red wolves in recent years.
“The red wolf’s story is very much the broader story of many wolves and wild canids globally that have been misunderstood and persecuted until their populations shrank to near extinction, but that were then revived or stabilized with modern conservation efforts,” Beeland said. “The question, of course, is what trajectory these wolves will take from here.”
The 8th Annual Wild South Green Gala will take place at The Millroom on May 7 in downtown Asheville. The event will honor Wild South’s legacy of 25 years protecting wild places and wildlife of the Southeast region. For a quarter of a century, Wild South has worked to inspire people to enjoy, value and protect the wild character and natural legacy of the South.
The emcee of the event will be storyteller and writer Jim Pfitzer. A life-long conservationist, Jim has been performing his one-man play, “Aldo Leopold – A Standard of Change,” which explores the intersection of human progress and wildness for audiences around the country since 2012. Currently, Jim is working on a new show set in Southern Appalachia about how two families dealt with the American chestnut blight in the late 1920s.
The Wild South Green Gala fundraiser will also feature the presentation of the Roosevelt-Ashe Conservation Awards honoring individuals and businesses for their outstanding contributions to environmental conservation in the South during the past year. This is the only major recognition and awards ceremony for environmental conservation in the South. Award categories include Outstanding Small Business, Outstanding Journalist, Outstanding Educator, Outstanding Youth, and Outstanding Conservationist. Additional lifetime achievement awards will be presented as well.
“This is an opportunity to honor conservation leaders from around the South for their dedication, commitment and accomplishments in their fields. It is truly an inspiring process that Wild South is proud to lead,” says Pat Byington, Executive Director of Wild South.
Top nominees and winners are selected by the Roosevelt-Ashe Selection Committee. Members of this committee are conservation leaders in the region and include:
Katie Hicks, Associate Director of Clean Water for North Carolina (Asheville, NC), Jake Wheeler, Creative Director of RootsRated (Chattanooga, TN), Frank Peterman, Co-founder and Senior Business Manager for the Diverse Environmental Leaders National Speakers Bureau (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Audrey Peterman, Member of the Board of Trustees of National Parks Conservation Association (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Dusty Allison, Digital Publisher of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine (Asheville, NC), Kathleen Williams, Founding Executive Director of Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation (Nashville, TN), Pete Conroy, Director of Environmental Policy & Information Center of Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville, AL), Camille Bowman, Architectural Conservator (Gadsden, AL), Mary Topa, Executive Director of Georgia Forest Watch (Dahlonega, GA), and Marin Leroy, Environmental Education Coordinator of Evergreen Charter School (Asheville, NC).
The 8th Annual Wild South Green Gala is sponsored by PRADCO Outdoor Brands, a subsidiary of EBSCO Ind. Inc., Daniels Law Firm, P.C, The Millroom, Green Sage Café, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Smiling Hara Tempeh, Renovate with Color, Outdoor Sports Marketing, with silent auction items donated by Grass to Greens, REI, Fair Game Beverage Company, Kleen Kanteen, artist Andrea Cassetta, and basketmaker Mark Kolinski.
Tickets are $35 per person and include dinner, the evening program, live music, a silent auction and a raffle. This is a fundraising event to benefit Wild South. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.wildsouth.org/greengala.