BR siblings, others to receive Coastal Stewardship awards

When Baton Rouge sister-and-brother teenagers Maeve and Rory McCracken decided to get other youngsters involved in learning, reacting to the BP-Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, they had no idea the depth and the breadth of their efforts.

They established a website, kidslovethegulf.com; created and sold T-shirts; and donated the $8,000 from the sales to the Audubon Institute’s Rescue & Rehab Program.

Not long after, Russell Roper, principal at Episcopal High, the McCrackens’ school, helped the siblings write and enlist other teens to write and illustrate “G is for Gulf,” a primer they published for understanding what the Gulf of Mexico means to those who live, work and play in the five Gulf states.

Their efforts earned a Conservationist of the Year award from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation. Come May 10, the Coalition will honor Maeve, 19, and Rory, 13, with one of nine 2013 Coastal Stewardship awards.

“This year’s award winners run the gamut of young and old, individuals and teams.

“This is reflective of the many different people and organizations now stepping forward to play a role in the restoration and protection of Louisiana’s coast,” CRCL executive director Steven Peyronnin said in announcing the 18th annual recognition list.

“Our award winners all work tirelessly, in their professional and personal time, to contribute to a healthy and sustainable coast. They have initiative, vision and drive that inspire us all to create a better future for coastal Louisiana,” Peyronnin said.

CRCL divides the nine winners into three categories.

Karen Gautreaux will receive the Distinguished Service Award. Gautreaux is the director of Governmental Relations for the Nature Conservancy-Louisiana.

After years of what the CRCL identified as “a long history of building partnerships at the local, state and federal level to benefit Louisiana’s coastal communities and environment,” she is being recognized for efforts to pass the 2012 RESTORE Act through Congress.

Six individuals, among them the McCrackens, and one organization will take home Coastal Stewardship awards. Others include:

  • Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.
  • retired wildlife biologist and coastal activist Marty Floyd.
  • Nicholls State professor Quenton Fontenot, whose work has identified native plants.
  • the work behind restoration and clean-up on Elmer’s Island.
  • Louisiana Department of Natural Resources’ Rachel Sweeney, who is credited with heading projects that restored more than 7,700 acres of wetlands and barrier islands.
  • the Kirk Rhinehart-led Coastal Protestion & Restoration Authority’s Master Plan Delivery Team for completing and presenting the recently enacted Louisiana Coastal Master Plan, the 50-year, $50 billion plan to restore coastal Louisiana.

Two companies will be honored as “Friends of the Coalition:”

  • Abita Brewing Company after raising more than $450,000 and providing 350 volunteers for coastal restoration projects.
  • Cheniere Energy, the Houston-based energy company heavily involved in in CRCL’s Community Based Restoration Program.

The awards banquet is 7 p.m. Friday, May 10, at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center.

Tickets are $50 and are available via the CRCL website: http://www.crcl.org.