Pensacola, Fla. — Dozens of Gulf Power employees spread out across the company’s service footprint to celebrate Earth Day over a three-day period in April by painting picnic tables, building fences and picking up trash.
Volunteers even assisted in taking down and clearing away the debris of several dead trees at the E. O. Wilson Biophilia Center in Freeport.
“It’s so beautiful out here, and I wanted to lend a hand,” said Justin Palumbo, an Engineer in the Panama City Office who was volunteering for his first Stewardship volunteer workday. “We’ve been working on clearing away dead trees that were falling apart to make walking the trail safer for the students. One of the center’s biggest goals in outreach is to teach about nature. In a sense, we were helping with that by opening up a trail and opening up at teaching opportunity.”
Eastern District Biophilia workday
Eastern District Transformers kicked off the Earth Day events on April 19 when they joined the Environmental Affairs Stewardship team tackling five jobs at the Biophilia Center — painting picnic tables, replacing rotting boardwalk planks, building a corn crib for equipment storage and erecting a garden fence, along with clearing away the debris of two trees.
The nonprofit center serves as nature’s classroom for 110 students daily during the school year from Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Holmes and Washington counties, who participate in 20 hands-on environmental science lessons.
By helping the center Gulf Power fosters a new generation of conservationist for Northwest Florida’s natural resources and wildlife, said Kimberly Blair, Gulf Power spokesperson.
“We’re out her to give back to the community,” she said. “Students use this center and we want to make sure it’s ready for them to learn.”
Paul Arthur, director of the Biophilia Center, said Gulf Power made their Earth Day extra special.
“This is the second time Gulf Power has been out here,” he said. “And there’s a lot of work being done to make sure we are able to do our job here at the center of teaching future generations about the environment. Being a nonprofit, having this relationship shows me companies like Gulf Power care about what we are doing.”
Keep Pensacola Beautiful
About 10 Gulf Power Transformers from Pensacola joined the Association of Environmental Professionals and University of West Florida students and staff for the Keep Pensacola Beautiful cleanup on April 21. They picked up trash along the shoreline and neighborhood streets of Bayou Grande.
The cleanup site is along a portion of shoreline that was stabilized with oyster reefs to reverse severe erosion. The project was funded by a Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration grant awarded through a partnership between Gulf Power, Southern Company, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and other affiliates.
“It’s really important to us to prevent the litter from entering the water since we’ve worked so much in this area to restore it,” said Sigrid Solgard, executive director of Keep Pensacola Beautiful. “This is our second year in a row having cleanups at this location. We appreciate the help of Gulf Power.”
Okaloosa Beach cleanup
Gulf Power Transformers and their family members — 15 altogether — combed the beach for trash left behind by spring-breakers at Beasley Park, on April 22, when they joined the Okaloosa County Earth Day Beach Cleanup.
The goal was to guarantee only the footprints of the visitors were left behind, said Lee Bolton, one of two coordinators.
Transformers worked along-side Students Working Against Tobacco, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society students, and Northwest Florida Society for Human Resource Management, as well as volunteer geocachers, and more than a hundred other public volunteers, collecting at least half a dump-truck’s worth of litter.
“Gulf Power volunteers rally behind Earth Day cleanups because they grew up in the beach community,” Blair said. “Many of them also want to ensure that not only do we have a clean beach to visit, but the coastal creatures have a clean habitat.”
Gulf Power’s Transformers is an employee-driven nonprofit organization that helps transform our communities through service and financial support. With six councils across our service footprint, Transformers support local organizations that work to improve the quality of life and provide a hand up to those in need.