Zoo Employee Receives Top State Award

Bob Langston, an interpretive specialist with the N.C. Zoo, was presented with the North Carolina Big Sweep’s top state award during the 20th anniversary celebration at the zoo recently.

Langston, who also serves as the Randolph County Big Sweep coordinator, was honored with the Caroline Parker Outstanding Achievement Award for his wonderful volunteer efforts for litter-free watersheds.

“Bob did a fantastic job going out in the community and schools to recruit volunteers,” said Judy Bolin, N.C. Big Sweep president. “He totally shattered his county’s previous volunteer record.”

Thanks to Langston, Randolph County boasted 815 Big Sweep volunteers in 2006 – far more than the previous record of 181 volunteers a year earlier. Those numbers paid off.

Randolph County volunteers cleaned almost 20 miles and retrieved 9,605 pounds of debris during the 2006 N.C. Big Sweep.

“Because the community support was so great, they were able to retrieve more debris than ever before too,” Bolin said. “This is really important because litter can affect our economy and our health and can be deadly to wildlife.”

Langston said the group’s success was a collaborative effort.

“This year’s growth would not have been possible without cooperation from Trees Asheboro, city and county schools, municipal governments and local businesses,” he said.

The award was named posthumously for Caroline Parker, a former two-term president of N.C. Big Sweep and a staunch crusader against littering. Only one person is eligible to receive the award each year.

N.C. Big Sweep was founded in 1987 as Beach Sweep, a coastal cleanup with 1,000 volunteers. That cleanup expanded inland and was renamed in 1989 to become North Carolina Big Sweep, the nation’s first statewide waterway cleanup. During its 20-year history, more than 230,000 volunteers have retrieved more than eight million pounds of debris from North Carolina’s watersheds.

Loretta Tweed
N.C. Zoo