Esther Porter Helps 'Keep Oconee County Beautiful' Win Statewide Recognition
Year after year, Esther Porter's dedication to the environment remains strong, the executive director says.
Over 51 billion pieces of litter end up on U.S. roadways each year. According to Keep America Beautiful, the 6,729 litter items per mile cost the U.S. almost $11.5 billion each year in litter cleanup costs.
The Keep Oconee County Beautiful Commission (KOCBC) is working to reduce the litter statistic in the community and was recently honored for its efforts.
The organization was presented with a second place award in the Litter Prevention category at the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation Awards Luncheon.
Members Kate McDaniel, Monica Ali and former executive director Esther Porter traveled to Atlanta to accept the award on Nov. 14.
Keep America Beautiful is a national network of more than 1,200 local affiliates across the country devoted to litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction and recycling. At the luncheon, Keep Georgia Beautiful announced that Georgia has more affiliates than any other state in the nation, Porter said.
Angela Helwig, current executive director of the KOCBC, is proud of the recognition and praised Porter for her passion and dedication to the program, which helps the organization obtain statewide recognition year after year.
“[Esther] is just such a go-getter,” said Helwig. “Part of winning the award is Esther. The fact that she takes the time to gather all the information and make a good presentation to the people that make the award decisions, I think that really makes a difference.”
Porter was one of the first members to sit on the Keep Cobb Beautiful Commission in Cobb County, but her passion for the environment intensified when she and her husband moved to Oconee County and participated in KOCBC's first litter cleanup.
Since the cleanup in 1994, Porter has been involved as a volunteer, commission member, commission chair, and even held the executive director position from 2009 to 2010.
“This is something I believe in that is not only helping our community but it's helping the future generations to keep our county beautiful,” said Porter.
To reduce litter in Oconee County, the Commission coordinates Adopt-a-Mile -- a local program that pairs up individuals and groups with one mile sections of county roads for regular cleanups, according to the KOCBC's website. In 2010, the program had 25 volunteer groups, totaling 275 volunteers.
The KOCBC organizes annual litter cleanups including the Great American Cleanup in the spring and Rivers Alive in the fall. The outreach projects are aimed at increasing citizens' knowledge of environmental stewardship.
With twelve commission positions appointed by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, along with additional auxiliary members, the organization also hosts events for phone book recycling, curbing cigarette butt littering and chipping Christmas trees to provide free mulch to citizens.
Through KOCBC programs, Oconee County residents have contributed over 3,500 volunteer hours with the cost benefit of their volunteer hours totaling $23,000.
“[Esther] is just committed to the Keep Oconee Beautiful Commission and I don’t see that ending,” Helwig said.
Last year KOCBC won second place in the same category, as well as the 2010 Keep America Beautiful President’s Circle Award.
Porter is delighted the state recognized their hard work and effort.
“It’s nice to know that your group achieved something, especially to be such a small group," she said.
Have you participated in local litter cleanups? Tell us about the experience in the comments below.