NC Beautiful Announces Yadkin PeeDee River Basin Grant Recipients

From: NC Beautiful
Published: Mon Mar 30 2009

NC Beautiful has announced the recipients of its Yadkin PeeDee River Basin Grants sponsored by Philip Morris USA and totaling $40,000. Grants were awarded to Nichole Wunderle of Mount Airy Middle School, Mount Airy (Surry County); Anita Fessler of Woodleaf Elementary School in Woodleaf (Rowan County); Lori Robinette of Shiloh Elementary School in Monroe (Union County); Sara Fuller of Archdale-Trinity Middle School in Archdale (Randolph County); and Barbara Beane of Farmer Elementary School in Asheboro (Randolph County). NC Beautiful Executive Director, Steve Vacendak, presented the Grants to the schools through separate check presentation ceremonies and was joined by Beth Earnst, NC Beautiful Treasurer and Director of Communications & Public Affairs, NAFTA Region, Ciba Corporation and Robin Nicholson, NC Beautiful Board of Director and Director & Manager of Sports Venues for Duke Energy.

The Yadkin PeeDee River Basin represents 1.4 million people in 91 municipalities, which embody all walks of life, including the employees and facilities of the Philip Morris USA plant in Cabarrus County, NC. Gary Ruth, General Manager & Vice President for Cabarrus Manufacturing Operations, said that the grant is consistent with PM USA’s efforts to conserve environmental resources. "Through our business practices and philanthropy, PM USA has implemented policies and programs to reduce the environmental impact of our business and promote the sustainability of the natural resources on which we depend," Ruth said.

With their Grant, Anita Fessler’s 5th grade class at Woodleaf Elementary is planning a very comprehensive project involving stream walks, water testing of the stream and the well that supplies water to the school, and education about conservation through xeriscaping and use of rain barrels. Fessler said that the Grant will enable her students to experience a more in-depth study of water and its conservation.

"As members of a rural community, scientific resources such as the ones we will purchase are not ones that students at Woodleaf would normally have a chance to use," explains Fessler. "[Through] NC Beautiful's generosity…we will further our understanding of the importance of water in our local community. We have gotten a general comprehension of water’s role in our daily lives through the drought and self-imposed water restrictions. This project will further open my students' eyes as to how our lives are impacted by water usage and water conservation."

Mount Airy Middle School will be using its Grant to expose students to a wide variety of environmental issues including water quality through testing and improving that quality through the use of plants and recycling. Using rain barrels and compost from cafeteria leftovers, Nichole Wunderle’s 7th graders plan to grow their own plants in their own greenhouses for xeriscaping and beautification.
"This grant means so much to us," says Wunderle. "We have so many plans, but with no funding, they seemed impossible. We try to teach the students about water conservation, recycling, gardening, and so on, but without materials, they can never fully understand these concepts. Now they can experience them hands on. [The students] see this as an opportunity of a lifetime. This grant was a dream come true!"

Sarah Fuller’s 7th grade science class at Archdale-Trinity Middle School will be studying the area’s stream with their Grant. With their award, the class will be collecting and analyzing water from the river, as well as at home. Resource persons will then educate the students on how humans impact local water sources and conservation methods through the use of plants and other methods.

Fuller is grateful for the Grant and says that it will provide an opportunity for her class to have "hands-on experiences" that otherwise would not have been available. Fuller had students share why they wanted to be a part of this Grant at their first meeting. The students were quite vocal and shared several insightful comments with their class: "People are destroying the earth and not doing anything about it. I want to change that.", "People say they want to help the earth, but don't do anything about it. I will not be them.", and "I want to be involved in a community service project that does something and affects the community positively." And one comment seemed to sum it up nicely: "Playing outside and getting dirty is fun!"

About NC Beautiful
NC Beautiful has been part of the state’s environmental preservation community for 40 years, supporting awareness, education and beautification efforts that affect our quality of life. Today, we concentrate on hands-on and merit-based programs designed to empower our citizens to preserve the natural beauty of the state of North Carolina. Whether it’s school children building outdoor classrooms, graduate students developing cutting edge research, or a Boy Scout troop planting azaleas at an elder care facility, we make it possible for North Carolinians to keep NC Beautiful. For more information, visit

About Philip Morris USA
Philip Morris USA is an operating company of Altria Group, Inc., a Virginia corporation whose stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (MO). PM USA is the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer and for more than 20 consecutive years, has had the highest revenues, income, volume and market share in the U.S. cigarette business. PM USA is committed to supporting initiatives that link employees’ interests, business goals and the communities where its employees live and work. For more information, visit

Media Contacts
Steve Vacendak, Executive Director
NC Beautiful
(919) 828-3190

Louise Carey, Programs Manager
NC Beautiful
(919) 828-3190

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Company: NC Beautiful
Contact Name: Louise Carey
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Contact Phone: 919-828-3190

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