Photo © Dr. David Blevins, all rights reserved

Research Triangle Park, NC – This past weekend the North Carolina Wildlife Federation presented the 48th Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards to 20 winners dedicated to conservation in North Carolina.

The following remarks accompanied the presentation of the Governor’s Business Conservationist of the Year award to Tom Valone, owner of Great Outdoor Provision Co.

“Walk the talk. That’s a phrase that means practicing what you preach, leading by example, and letting your actions spread your message. For two decades, the Great Outdoor Provision Co. has walked the talked when it comes to meaningful green business practices. In fact, the Great Outdoor Provision Company walks the talk, paddles the talk, climbs the talk, hikes the talk, fly-casts the talk, and camps the talk. With seven stores in North Carolina and a legacy of giving back, the Great Outdoor Provision Co. is for many many customers as much a beloved part of the state’s landscape as a mountain view or Piedmont waterfall. Under the leadership of local owners Tom and Becca Valone, the stores have celebrated Land Trust Day for 20 years, donating profits back to local land trusts. The company provides trail crew assistance every month for the Mountains-to-the-Sea trail, supports Boy Scouts and Girl Scout Programs, helped establish the N.C. State Parks Junior Ranger Program, and contributes to conservation groups from the Wildlife Federation to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, another half-dozen local lands conservancies, the Audubon Society, Coastal Conservation Association, and more.

The Great Outdoor Provision Co. puts its money where the wild is, and where it can inspire North Carolinians to do the same. For that kind of leadership, it is the 2010 Governor’s Business Conservationist of the Year.”

Awards winners are nominated by the citizens of North Carolina and decided upon by a committee of scientists, environmental educators, and conservation activists. “This awards program brings together a remarkably diverse group of conservationists to highlight the `good news’ about wildlife conservation in North Carolina,” said Gestwicki, “Our primary focus is to applaud and honor these people who work so hard for wildlife and the air, water, land that they and all of us depend upon”.