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County honors first Eco Heroes

A school cafeteria manager, a pollinator advocate and a longtime volunteer in conservation efforts will be recognized next week as the first honorees in the Henderson County Eco Heroes Award Program.

The Board of Commissioners will honor Patricia Russell, Kim Bailey, and Geri Conley during its first meeting of 2022 at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 3.

The Henderson Eco Heroes Awards Program exists to honor individuals who can serve as an example and inspire others to preserve the environmental health of Henderson County. Managed by the Henderson County Environmental Advisory Committee, the award was created to spread environmental awareness and demonstrate that a healthy environment improves the quality of life for all people.

Russell serves as the Cafeteria Manager at Dana Elementary and has worked with the school community to institute a composting project, which has resulted in a significant reduction of solid waste being sent to the landfill.

Bailey is a local pollinator farmer, environmental educator, and advocate for pollinators. Kim owns and operates Milkweed Meadows Farm where she grows milkweed, pawpaw, and other pollinator-friendly plants. She grows, donates, and sells milkweed and other plants to ensure that these plants are widely available for monarchs and other important pollinators for generations to come.

The third awardee is Geri Conley, who focuses on natural resource conservation and has been a long-time, reliable, and devoted volunteer for conservation groups in Henderson County. Conley is also an avid recycler and volunteers to curb food waste and redirect it to people who need it with IAM and the Feed the Kids program.

Nominees for Henderson Eco Heroes are accepted on a rolling basis. Anyone who lives or works in Henderson County, who goes above and beyond to exhibit sound environmental practices, is eligible for the award. To nominate someone that you think fits this description, visit the Environmental Advisory Committee webpage. For more information, contact Henderson County Environmental Programs Supervisor Christine Wittmeier at or call (828) 694-6524.