‘NMI community is Green Gala’s beneficiary’

THE CNMI community is the Micronesia Islands Natural Alliance’s Green Gala beneficiary, MINA board chair Fran Castro told the 200 guests at Friday’s event held in the Hibiscus Hall of Fiesta Resort and Spa.

The gala is held annually to raise funds for MINA’s environmental projects.

Castro said the event also sought to promote a recycling culture in the CNMI. “This is the night that we all come together to celebrate the environment and the good works that MINA has done. MINA is also grateful for the sponsors this evening — without your generous support we won’t be able to put together our good work on the ground. The only beneficiary of this Green Gala is you — the CNMI community.”

Tickets were sold out three days before the event, MINA executive director Roberta Guerrero said.

“I don’t have much to say except thank you for the support,” Guerrero said in an interview on Friday.

On gala night. MINA awarded a business company, a school and an individual for their commitment and dedication to preserving the CNMI’s natural resources.

This year’s recipient of the Green Business of the Year Award was the Hasselback Law Office “for its commitment to conservation and for incorporating green business culture throughout its organization.”

The law office uses the latest technology in which every document produced can be accessed 24/7, thus eliminating the use of paper. The law office uses an average of less than five sheets of paper a day.

This year’s Environmental Heroes Award went to the Conservation Action Plan Committee of Marianas High School.

The award is given to a school, public or private, whose dedication to the environment “echoes through its students.”

MINA said MHS students understand that the future belongs to them and they have worked throughout the year to plan and organize environmental activities for themselves and for the community.

“For the countless hours of volunteering, beach cleanups, educating their peers, families and neighbors and for leading the way for sustainable practices, these students are true environmental heroes,” MINA said.

MHS environmental science teacher Mayolina Garcia received the award on behalf of the students.

Lina Dimaano of Tan Holdings is this year’s Environmental Champion Award recipient. The award goes to an individual who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to environment and the preservation of natural resources.

“A true champion of conservation, the awardee is a tireless individual who inspires leadership to promote environmental responsibility and sustainability,” MINA said.

The recipient has also been practicing and promoting the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle concept since 2008, and reduces the use of paper and promoting a worldwide campaign for Earth Hour. She also actively promotes the use of LED lights, which reduce power costs, in business units.

Dimaano is a former board member of MINA.

Fran Castro received the Distinguished Leadership in Environmental Conservation Award. It was the first time that MINA bestowed such an award.

“The recipient of this award is an icon of environmental conservation in the CNMI, in Guam, and in the Pacific,” MINA board member Frankie Eliptico said. “Many in the region look to her for her advice, for her guidance and for her counsel.”

Castro worked in the CNMI government for about 25 years, 16 of which as program manager for what is now known as the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality. She was the director of Coastal Resources Management before moving to Guam to be with her husband.

“She is unparalleled in her accomplishments in conservation and environmental advocacy,” MINA said.

“Among her notable accomplishments include her brainchild, the Environmental Symposium and Environmental Expo; a successful coral reef summer internship providing hands-on experience to local students that encourages college-bound students to major in environmental science and natural resource management; her record on issuing enforcement orders against new developments far exceeded any other enforcement actions issued by a regulatory agency; she made amendments to the CRM regulations to improve the program; and she implemented new policies and internal controls for the division.”

Under her leadership, “the Open Data Portal was completed providing the public with access to geospatial data; online permitting is now available for [the Division of Coastal Resources Management].” She was also responsible for the Reef Report App, which empowers the community to report violations.

“This award is very meaningful for me because I have worked with [the Division of Environmental Quality] and BECQ,” Castro said. “This year I left my job to join my family on Guam. It was very hard for me to leave because I love the CNMI. I love the work that I do protecting the environment. It is all about the future. It is for the children. I love the environment, that’s why my work at MINA continues,” said Castro, one of the co-founders of the environmental organization in 2005.

Castro said she plans to form a Guam chapter of MINA next year.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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