One Hundred Miles 100:Business Leaders
Honoring businesses – small, large, nonprofit, and for profit – that demonstrate forward-thinking leadership in conserving and enhancing our Georgia coast
Clay Davis is the owner of PrideWorks Construction in Darien, Georgia. As a Licensed Residential General Contractor, he is steadfast in his belief that building techniques should be at peace with nature. Among his many projects, Clay was an instrumental part of restoring the historic McIntosh County Courthouse and crafted the Shell Lane at the Ridge, a beautiful home that is Earth Craft-certified for a sustainable future. Choosing passion over profit, he resigned from Georgia-Pacific and started PrideWorks Construction in January of 2002. Today his company focuses on green building practices and energy efficiency. Clay remains active throughout his coastal community, and has served on the board of Keep McIntosh Beautiful and other local nonprofits. In all that he does, Clay demonstrates his strong commitment to the coast we love.
Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation’s commitment to sustainability is rooted in its goal to strengthen the communities where employees live and work, including those in and around coastal Georgia. Innovation is at the core of Gulfstream’s sustainability program. As the first business aircraft manufacturer to use renewable fuel for daily operations at its Savannah, Georgia, headquarters, Gulfstream supports local and long-term industry goals. The company also incorporates sustainable facilities and innovative efficiencies in manufacturing and research and development to carry out its commitment to environmental stewardship. In addition, Gulfstream enables employees to be key drivers in the company’s sustainability efforts. As environmental ambassadors for the company, employees take what they learn into their communities, where they can serve as stewards of the environment. Gulfstream’s support of Ocean Exchange, a Savannah-based international forum that promotes innovative solutions to problems facing the world’s oceans, illustrates how the company is looking beyond its own operations to empower and support the next generation of sustainability leaders.
Originally established in 1979, Keep Golden Isles Beautiful is a volunteer-based community organization dedicated to keeping the Golden Isles of Georgia clean, green, and beautiful. Since joining the organization in 2013, Executive Director Lea King-Badyna has led the way in litter prevention, waste reduction and recycling, community greening, water resource awareness, and youth education programs. Lea and executive assistant Christy Trowbridge share a deep love for and appreciation for the coastal environment, their communities, and the program’s potential to make a difference. They will soon unveil a series of unique “litter sculptures” in public spaces, each portraying a coastal creature and highlighting the harmful effects litter has on our environment. Among KGIB’s many programs and awards, the organization was recently recognized by the Keep Georgia Beautiful Foundation as its Affiliate of the Year. “One person’s efforts can make a difference,” says Lea. We couldn’t agree more.
Prized for its pristine natural beauty, The Lodge on Little St. Simons Island, a private barrier island off the Georgia coast, holds 11,000 intrusion-free acres of maritime forests and marshlands and seven miles of shell-strewn beaches. At LSSI, conservation isn’t just an idea, it’s a way of life: in every aspect of its daily operation (from an organic garden to sustainable energy practices and water conservation), the devotion of the owners and staff to maintaining the island’s natural ecological state remains foremost. Further, their robust research program allows LSSI to collaborate with conservation partners and educational institutions to study the islands’ ecological processes, natural communities, and rare species. Research conducted on LSSI helps to develop sustainable management guidelines and practices across the region. Perhaps most importantly, guests visiting Little St. Simons take part in a myriad of naturalist-led activities that put them one-on-one with the world around them and encourage an appreciation and understanding of our remarkable coastal ecosystems.
Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is located in the pristine coastal environment of Georgia’s Cumberland Sound, bounded by Cumberland Island National Seashore Park, Crooked River State Park, and historic St. Marys. NSB boasts 4,000 acres of unspoiled coastal marsh and 10,000 acres of indigenous wildlife habitat actively managed under the Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan. They regularly participate in cooperative programs such as the beach remediation program at nearby Fort Clinch. Its environmental team consists of ten professionals that maintain excellent cooperative rapport with regulatory agencies who consider their base “the best military base in Georgia.” Through their actions and commitment to our coast, Kings Bay shows that military operations don’t have to choose between their work and our environment.
Sapelo Sea Farms’ commitment to harvesting clams in a clean and sustainable environment is the bedrock of their operation. Owner and Captain Charlie Phillips has spent the past 35 years shrimping, fishing, running a dock, or growing shellfish. Phillips’ philosophy is that these fisheries and natural resources are public and must be protected and fished sustainably while also balancing the economic needs of recreational and commercial fishermen. According to Phillips, “There would be no [clam] industry without clean water. What else cleans the environment as it grows and is just plain good for Georgia?” The farm uses clean aquaculture practices that require no pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, or chemicals. As a leader in Georgia’s clam industry, Sapelo Sea Farms is creating new effective farming techniques. We celebrate their balanced approach and are grateful for all they do to ensure a healthy ocean ecosystem.
The Savannah Bee Company strives to live as bees do: symbiotically with nature and in a manner that contributes positively to the world around them. By supporting a healthy Georgia honey bee population, they maintain a keystone species of our coastal environment. The loss of the honey bee would create a ripple effect across Georgia’s ecosystems, destabilize the entire system, and, according to some scientists, result in a 50% loss of plant species. Founder Ted Dennard ensures the company follows the honeybees’ lead in giving back to our coast, through innovative education initiatives, sustainable operational practices, and by donating raw honey and a portion of sales to the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.
Owner and Executive Chef of two of St. Simons Island’s most popular restaurants, Halyards and Tramici, Dave Snyder’s commitment to local and sustainably caught seafood shines through in every dish he serves. Dave understands that these choices make a difference not only in the quality of the food, but for the health of our environment and the financial strength of coastal Georgia’s economy. To this end, he serves on the Advisory Panel for Snapper/Grouper Species for the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and has worked with the South Atlantic Fishermen’s Association to improve the sustainability and health of the South Atlantic, the availability of local fish, and the financial future and heritage of our coast’s fishing industry. Through his leadership, Dave inspires his colleagues, students, and guests to make choices that are good not just for the palate, but for our coastal environment as well.
SouthEast Adventure has been connecting coastal Georgia residents and visitors to their natural resources since 1994. With locations on St. Simons Island and in Brunswick, they promote the exploration, preservation, and appreciation of Georgia’s Golden Isles. Over the years their trained guides and naturalists have introduced thousands of kayakers and outdoor adventurers to the extensive waterways, barrier islands, and secret spots across coastal Georgia. As co-owner Michael Gowen says, “Our passion is sharing our beautiful coast. We’re firm believers that folks need to see our coast to appreciate it, and therefore care about it.” At the end of the day, after witnessing manatees, dolphins, rays, turtles, and birds of all shapes and sizes up close and personal, SEA participants leave with a full understanding of what’s so special about our small but mighty coast.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… SouthWings! Founded in 1996, SouthWings is a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to spreading conservation through aviation. They provide a network of volunteer pilots to advocate for the restoration and protection of the ecosystems and biodiversity of the Southeast. Across Georgia, SouthWings pilots have assisted One Hundred Miles, coastal Riverkeepers, and many local nonprofit organizations educate community leaders, policy-makers, and the media about threats facing our coast’s watersheds, forests, historic landmarks, and globally-significant ecosystems. Whether investigating issues of water quality, contamination or coastal development, the lessons SouthWings help to provide can only be understood from above. Everyone at their outstanding organization – including its many dedicated volunteers – deserves our admiration and thanks.
Banner photo courtesy of Blake Lipthratt