KSB Awards of Excellence Presented

On January 30, Keep Sedona Beautiful (KSB) presented its Awards of Excellence, recognizing businesses and individuals whose activities have contributed significantly to our community.

KSB Vice President Mike Yarbrough presented Ken Zoll an award for Cultural Heritage. Yarbrough noted that “Few people have done more to raise awareness of our Native American heritage than Ken Zoll, or to educate the public about that heritage.” After moving to the Verde Valley, Ken became active in the Verde Valley Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, eventually becoming President. In 2010, a significant discovery of artifacts was made near Cottonwood. Ken realized that since there was no certified repository for artifacts in the Verde Valley, this collection would be sent at least to Prescott, and perhaps much further away. Ken and others from the Arizona Archeology Society created the Verde Valley Archeology Center in 2010. Ken functions as Executive Director of the Center, supervising its’ operations.

L'AubergeMike then presented an award for sustainability to l’Auberge de Sedona. Accepting the award was Sean Olmstead, General Manager. According to Yarbrough, “lots of organizations are trying to ‘do well by doing good,’ but few are using credible and respected sustainability frameworks to know if they’re working on the right things or doing enough. L’Auberge is an exception.” L’Auberge is the only local business reporting on their sustainable performance using the UN Sustainable Development Goals. They have a sustainability team that meets regularly to work on these areas. They have set a goal for 90% of the menu to be sustainably sourced. Their meat is local and organic, and they use the Monterrey Bay Aquarium list to choose sustainable seafood.

Local couple Bill and Justine Kusner were then honored with the Community Service award. For the moment they arrived some 20 years ago, Bill and Justine have been an ever-present force of volunteerism. Yarbrough commented that “they have been litter lifters continuously from 1997 until 2018. This reflection of selfless pride in our community and its scenic beauty is exemplified by their tireless contribution. Bill became active in KSB and was a board member from 1997 to 2012, serving as president from 1999 to 2002.” Bill and Justine have also been active in Friends of the Forest (FOF). Justine served as President of FOF in 1999 and 2000, and combined, they’ve contributed over 11,000 hours to that organization, working in almost every conceivable way to support the Red Rock Ranger District.

JD and Karen Maddy received the award for Dark Skies. Shortly after joining the Astronomers of Verde Valley in 2000, they started hosting star parties. JD served as President of the group from 2003 to 2017. JD and Karen are involved in about 20 public astronomy events a year and also do some 80 private resort events per year. JD and Karen were designated Master VIP Astronomers for the Arizona parks they work with. They started hosting star parties in conjunction with Lowell Observatory in the early 2000’s. They’ve conducted programs for the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, VFW’s, schools, and community events. JD and Karen’s outreach program encompass solar viewing, outreach tents with projects for kids and adults.

Sedona CompostThe award for Environmental Stewardship went to Sedona Compost, a new business in Sedona that began compost collection service for a handful of customers in West Sedona a year ago. Due to demand, the business expanded to include Uptown Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. Yarbrough commented that Kathleen Ventura and Brock Delinski started Sedona Compost “out of frustration with the lack of public composting options in Yavapai County. Knowing that organic matter in the landfill decomposes anaerobically emitting methane, which is up to 87 times more damaging than CO2, they believed it was unacceptable in 2018 to not have composting options in Sedona. So – they decided to do something about it. They started Sedona Compost to divert organic matter from the landfill.”

Yarbrough had one more presentation to make, presenting Board Member Georgia Munsell with KSB’s Norman McGee Award. Over the past 10 years, few have contributed more to KSB than Georgia. As Vice President Yarbrough stated, “Georgia volunteers for everything. When we sponsored a trail maintenance day, there was Georgia. Not satisfied with ‘just’ being a Litter Lifter, Georgia undertook a route but also organized her neighborhood to protect miles of roadway from litter in her area.” She worked tirelessly building up both KSB’s membership and business sponsors, and spearheaded the effort to build up an Endowment fund. As one board member noted, “With Georgia’s exceptional work ethic and professionalism, she’s the volunteer that nonprofits dream of having.”

KSB awardsAll of the KSB awardees. From the left: Bill and Justine Kusner, J D and Karen Maddy, Sean Olmstead, Georgia Munsell, Brock Delinski, Kayla Kudo, Kathleen Ventura, Ken Zoll photo by Jerry Kendrick

Keep Sedona Beautiful, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that, by acting through the stewardship of its members and volunteers, is committed to protecting and sustaining the unique scenic beauty and natural environment of the Greater Sedona Area. For more information about Keep Sedona Beautiful, please call 928.282.4938, or visit KeepSedonaBeautiful.org.