Gene Eidson, founder of the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy and its popular Phinizy Swamp Nature Park, received the Garden Club of America Conservation Award, while businessman/philanthropist Barry L. Storey received the Garden Club of America Civic Improvement Award.
The honors were distributed during a Zone VIII awards dinner held at Augusta Country Club and hosted by the Sand Hills Garden Club.
Storey, a member of Augusta Tomorrow who leads its Entryways and Corridors Committee, created a public/private partnership that works to build and maintain “green islands” along major Augusta corridors, especially those that influence first impressions of visitors.
“Barry leads the work of this partnership by commissioning landscape plans, conducting the project bid process and employing contractors, providing construction oversight and hiring professional landscape maintenance,” his award nomination form said.
Corridors improved by the program so far include Wheeler Road between Interstate 20 and Alexander Drive; the St. Sebastian area, which includes planted center medians with irrigation, sod and brick pavers; and Alexander Drive from Riverwatch Parkway to Washington Road.
“Barry contributes his own money, raises funds from local businesses and leverages Augusta-Richmond County funds and in-kind contributions to accomplish the work,” the club wrote, in nominating him for the honor.
Eidson, who founded the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy in 1996, is also a professor of biological sciences at Clemson University, where he teaches restoration ecology and other courses. He leads the environmental efforts of the Clemson University Restoration Institute and is founding director of the school’s Center for Applied Ecology and Center for Watershed Excellence.
The academy also developed the Center for Urban River Research and has created numerous new monitoring programs that will benefit the Savannah River and its many stakeholders.
Eidson was also part of a program with the city of Augusta that helped transform a wetland degraded by wastewater into a healthy ecosystem.