Coastal Federation hosts Pelican Award winners, more than 500 people at Taste of The Coast

Published 1:34 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

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Two great events happened in Morehead City on Saturday, August 5, 2023.

North Carolina Coastal Federation hosted its 20th annual Pelican Award winners at a ceremony in Carteret Community College’s Jocelyn Hall. Seventeen award recipients, including five from the northeast sector of the state, received commemorative pictures with plaques presented by Coastal Federation staffers and Coastal Federation President April Clark.

The auditorium for the award presentations was filled to capacity with 200 supporters and award winners.

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After the award ceremony, the 2023 Coastal Federation edition of Taste of The Coast was held in the Crystal Coast Civic Center, a short walk away from the awards venue.

Taste of The Coast drew over 500 people to a grand adventure.

The Taste of the Coast opened with staff from nine oyster farms shucking and serving up oysters, which varied across the taste spectrum.

Representatives served chilled oysters from these growers: Hold Fast Oyster Company, Sneads Ferry; Shephards Point Oysters, Morehead City; Carolina Gold Oyster Company, Beaufort; Crab Point Seafood, Morehead City; Ghost Fleet Oyster Company, Hampstead; Roysters NC, Beaufort; White Oak Oyster Company, Swansboro; N Sea Oyster Co., Hampstead; and Oysters Carolina, Harkers Island.

About the oyster taste spectrum, Sarah King, North Carolina Coastal Federation development director and taste organizer, explained the “merroir,” thusly:

“In wine, terroir is the concept that flavor is derived from a sense of place. The vineyard’s terrain, soil, sunlight, water quality, microclimate, etc. contribute to a unique wine that encapsulates a particular place and time. In the oyster world, we say that oysters each have their own merroir, that each oyster is intimately impacted by the body of water it comes from, the algae it feeds on, the strength of currents and tides, the mineral content of the seafloor, rainfall, temperature, season and more. Although oysters can be the same species and grown in a similar manner, just a difference of a few miles in location can have a big effect on their flavor.

“In French, the word mer means sea, and so the term merroir has been adopted to describe a sense of terroir for oysters.”

Arrayed along the outside of the civic center were other taste adventures.

Queen of Wines “sources and imports sustainably-grown family estate wines and delivers the wines all over North Carolina.” For this event, the distributor offered four wines. Food tastings included a creamy shrimp and grits with a taste of bacon and a mushroom stuffed with a cream cheese filling.

Seaglass Wines provided tasting at the event bars.

Carolina Brewery, a partner with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, provided all the beer offerings along with tasting stations at Taste of The Coast. Robert Poitras, founder and owner of this craft brewery provided three award winning beers: Sky Blue Kolsch, Costero Mexican Lager and the new Fin Chaser Pale Ale. Chicken nuggets and other food offerings were provided.

Carolina Brewery has locations in Chapel Hill and Pittsboro.

In the center of the room were items in the federation’s silent auction, which was conducted entirely online. A live auction of six items was also held.

2023 Pelican Award Winners

“This year’s Pelican Award winners inspire us by not only their actions but by their tangible and meaningful contributions to protect and restore our coast,” explained Coastal Federation executive director Todd Miller. “They remind us that our coast is special, and it needs active stewardship to stay that way. The recipients are both old and relatively new friends of the Coastal Federation who have shared their time, talents, and resources to advance the Federation’s mission.”

2023 Coastwide Award Winners from Northeastern North Carolina:

John Griffin from Salvo and Bill Husted from Manteo for Outstanding Volunteer Efforts to Advance the NC Oyster Trail. “Bill and John were at the table from the beginning to develop the Trail’s vision and help make it a reality,” says the award. The Oyster Trail was launched in 2020. “Bill and John have demonstrated exemplary leadership and dedication to local seafood and coastal protection.”

Brian Rubino for Leadership in Living Shoreline Design, Permitting and Implementation. Rubino, with Quible & Associates, first created a living shoreline for the Town of Manteo. In recent years, he has worked with the Federation to design, permit and install living shorelines at the federation’s field office in Wanchese, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, Whittaker Pointe in Oriental, Sugarloaf Island and Fort Macon State Park.

2023 Northeastern North Carolina Award Winners:

Blue Water Grill & Raw Bar for Dedicated Partnership to Recycle Oyster Shells for Coastal Restoration. The eatery “has taken the Restaurant to Reef partner title to a new level.” The establishment was the first in the northeast to host a 5’ x 8’ dump trailer. Since the trailer was installed in September 2022, restaurant has recycled about 300 bushels of shell. The restaurant is also recognized for its fall 2022 and spring 2023 farm tours. Participants toured the federation’s oyster lease in Wanchese and then visited Blue Water for a sampling of North Carolina oysters and an oyster shooter.

Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy for Decades of Reliable and In-Depth Press Coverage on Coastal Environmental Issues. “As a reporter for The Coastland Times, her coverage fosters environmental stewardship and contributes to an informed and environmentally conscious community,” states the award.

Central North Carolina Award winners:

Todd Kelly, for Promoting and Advancing the Use of Living Shorelines in Carteret County

Dr. Carresse Gerald, for Impactful Leadership that Inspires the Next Generation of Coastal Environmental Professionals.

Janice Allen, for Decades of Effective Leadership to Protect Our Coast’s Natural Heritage and Environmental Quality.

Southeast North Carolina Award Winners:

Joe Suleyman, for Support of and Dedication to Oyster Shell Recycling. Suleyman is the director of the New Hanover County Environmental Management Department. In Wrightsville Beach, Suleyman provided a 10-yard dumpster dedicated to oyster shell recycling.

Nancy Faye Craig, for Exceptional Volunteer Contributions to Our Coast. In 2013, Nancy Faye knocked on the door in Wrightsville Beach Historic Square and “asked if she could lend a hand in the house’s restoration efforts.” She’s been painting, cleaning, weeding and mulching ever since.

Cody and Rachel Faison, for Advancing Community Oyster Shell Recycling and Coastal Restoration. Ghost Fleet Oyster Company is “a true leader in promoting community oyster shell recycling and spearheading coastal restoration efforts,” states the award.

Coastwide Award Winners

Jimmy Johnson and Anne Deaton, for Being Enduring Champions of Coastal Habitat Protection and Restoration. Johnson chaired the Marine Fisheries Commission from 1998 to 2005. Deaton did much of the initial staff work on the first Coastal Habitat Protection Plan. Johnson sold his seafood business and stepped down from the commission. The state’s Department of Environmental Quality hired him to help implement the habitat plan. Deaton is the Habitat Assessment Program supervisor for the state’s Marine Fisheries Division. The award calls the pair, “a dynamic duo who are both deeply committee to their jobs.”

Richard Cecelski, for Providing Decades of Impactful Coastal Educational Experiences for Students and Teachers. He leads Carolina Ocean Studies, an environmental education non-profit. Over 30 years, has introduced more than a half-million students to the coast.

David Cecelski, for Inspired Community Service Guided by a Lifetime of Sharing Our Coast’s History and Traditions. He was the federation’s first volunteer. In 1983, he spent weeks in Hyde County reaching out to people about the perils of strip mining peat. The 120,000 acre proposal was stopped. His community outreach led to the creation of the Alligator River and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuges.

The brothers brought a large group of family members who cheered on these their heroes and others during the evening.

Chris Matteo, for Unwavering Dedication to Growing NC’s Mariculture Industry. In 2013, Matteo established the first oyster aquaculture far. He made significant contributions to the North Carolina Shellfish Mariculture Strategic Plan and now serves as President of the North Carolina Shellfish Growers Association.

Lifetime Achievement Award:

Kenneth S. Chestnut Sr., for a Lifetime of Dedicated Leadership and Community Service. Chestnut is the retired president and chief executive officer of IBG Construction Services LLC based in Atlanta, Ga. He founded the firm in 1998. It is an industry leader in sustainability. He served as vice president of the Coastal Federation using his skills to guide the development of the federation’s new Center for Coastal Protection and Restoration. He was recently honored with the Distinguished Alumni of the Duke University Engineering Council.