Letter to Editor

Published 9:33 pm Thursday, February 21, 2008

By Staff
West thanks Atmore
The Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce Banquet was indeed one of the highlights of my life. The Turtle Point Project is a prime example of what communities can do when they work together to improve the quality of life and education for their citizens. It is true that I had the vision, but hundreds of people throughout Escambia County and Alabama helped make the vision a reality.
I want to thank our newspapers for supporting our efforts over the years. Each paper in Escambia County was always there to document and support our efforts from the day we received our first grant. Without the publicity we received, the project would have progressed much slower.
I have always taught my students to use their gifts and intelligence to make this world a better place-to be givers, not takers. I do hope I have touched their lives in a special way. My greatest job during my professional life was to see my students achieve and understand their purpose in this beautiful world we live in. We must all see beyond the confines of our offices and homes to the natural world that sustains us each day. The quality of our lives and future generation depend on this. Some people may not understand how they can become environmental citizens. Education is the key. For 20 years, the environmental education movement has been moving toward a comprehensive plan to implement a K-12 model in the education system of Alabama. Many other states already have a model in place where every student learns about the importance of the environment in their own health and happiness.
Dr. Doug Phillips of the University of Alabama and founder of many of the state’s environmental organizations has been and is active in working to get the state of Alabama to adopt a comprehensive education plan that includes subjects across the curriculum. Dr. Phillips is also the founder of “Discovering Alabama,” the award winning TV series, which can be seen on Alabama Public T.V. (channel 2 and 42) twice a week.
Every individual needs to understand that the outdoor world, our environment, sustains us physically, mentally and spiritually. My challenge to our citizens is to become proactive at home, and at work to teach our children and colleagues that we are all in this together. Help Escambia County, one of the most littered counties in Alabama, become a model for our neighbors. Ask what you can do to make your community and our county a clean, beautiful place to live. Get involved in recycling, picking up litter in your area, building backyard greenspaces for wildlife and alerting our elected officials that you want to be involved in this education movement.
I encourage each one of you to get outside and enjoy our beautiful state. You will be surprised how depression will be lifted, how your family’s health and weight problems will be decreased and how the quality of your life will improve.
Again, thank you friends, colleagues and family for bestowing this wonderful honor on me. May you all be blessed as I have been blessed over the years.
Respectfully yours,
Shirley West

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