Sustainable Community Success Stories – part 1

By Steven Conry via Flickr
Alison Winston
Written by Alison Winston

Community-based Approach to Solving Water Problems

The Town of Williamston, North Carolina, is facing a water crisis.  Serious problems, like declining water levels and saltwater encroachment, plague the groundwater aquifers of the Central Coastal Plain, threatening the future of towns that rely upon it.  Audubon International and the Town of Williamston are implementing a variety of projects, policies, and other activities designed to address the town’s water needs.  The town is kicking off an education campaign that includes demonstration and environmental restoration projects designed to showcase water conservation techniques and aid in groundwater recharge.  Town facilities will be switching to water conservation devices, such as low-flow faucet fixtures and half-flush toilets, and the town is investigating an incentive and rebate program to help homeowners do the same.

The town also used Audubon International’s “Treasuring Home Pledge” to survey residents about what they consider to be the most important environmental concerns facing their community and to ask residents to pledge their commitment to a variety of conservation practices.  Greater than one out of every three Williamston residents consider water – either water quality or the availability of a dependable supply – to be the most important issue facing their town and the majoring indicated a willingness to make adjustments at home to help the town save water.

Community Mentoring Program

Florida Middle school students from Seaside Neighborhood School in Florida sampled water quality while visiting Camp Creek Golf Course, a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.  The course participates in the school’s Community Mentoring Program, whereby students spend one afternoon per week exploring various careers.  The golf course introduces the students not only to turf management, but to wildlife monitoring, habitat conservation, and water management.  The mentoring program fits perfectly with the school’s participation in the Audubon Partners for the Environment Program, as students not only learn about the environment locally, they take an active role in improving it.


More than 7,000 people attended Sarasota County’s E-Fest, a community festival dedicated to demonstrating ideas and technologies that promote earth stewardship.  Sustainable Sarasota was created by the Sarasota County government for the purpose of guiding and motivating the citizens of the county to live in concert with the environment. Children chose from a number of fun activities in the “Kid-e-Zone,” while more than 100 vendor booths offered opportunities for Sarasota County residents to connect with businesses and organizations exhibiting innovative products and services. Sarasota County is a registered member of the Sustainable Communities Program.  [Photo credit: Thom Williams]

Youth Community Photo Project

“A community can find out plenty about itself when it invites its youth to get involved,” says Debbie Reno, Youth Partnership Coordinator for the Sustainable Community Partnership Project, 4-H Youth Development at NC State University (NCSU).  Reno spearheaded a Youth Photo Project in Williamston/Martin County, NC, as part of its participation in Audubon International’s Sustainable Communities Program, in partnership with NCSU.  4-H Youth Development donated one Advantax camera and replacement film to each high school.  Students were assigned to take pictures that they felt represented their community. The photos were mounted on several posters and displayed during several high school youth forums, in which community leaders met with students to discuss their impressions about the community and sustainability.  More than 30 community leaders, including Williamston Mayor Tommy Roberson, County Commissioner Tommy Bowen, representatives for Congressman Balance, legislators, and other key stakeholders, co-facilitated small group sessions with students. The project involves younger citizens in thinking about sustainability and seeing that they have a role to play in their town’s future.

About the author

Alison Winston

Alison Winston

Alison is passionate about conservation and the environment. With a Master’s degree in Environmental Geology, Alison has written dozen's of papers focusing on hydrogeology, water quality, and hydrogeochemistry.

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