Mabry named Conservationist of Year
by The Press and Standard | May 11, 2018 5:00 pm
Last Updated: May 9, 2018 at 10:41 am
This year’s Colleton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservationist of the Year award went to a man who has dedicated his time and efforts to the organization.
Conservation District Chairman Gary Herndon brought the Rev. Gerald T. Mabry to the front of the banquet room and presented him with the conservation district’s top award during the district’s annual affiliate banquet at the Coastal Outback on April 24.
Herndon explained that the Conservationist of the Year award is usually presented to a farmer, to someone who dedicates their time to work to preserve the land and conserve those resources.
This year’s recipient is a little different, he said.
Mabry has been a faithful attendee of the Colleton Soil and Water Conservation District Board and has served as the District Chaplain since December of 1992.
Throughout his tenure with the Colleton District, he has gone above and beyond his normal duties to represent the board and showcase the conservation efforts across the county, Herndon said.
His leadership earned him the Chaplain of the Year Award in 1999, and in 2014, he became the State Chaplain for the South Carolina Association of Conservation Districts.
He is a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Many others are fortunate enough to call him a friend, Herndon said.
“In recognition of his lifetime of service and dedication to others and to his selfless efforts to make the world around him a better place, we are pleased to present the Rev. Gerald Mabry with this year’s conservationist of the year award,” Herndon said.
Mabry grew up on a farm in Norwood, N.C., and following high school, served a four-year tour in the U.S. Navy. He then returned to North Carolina and obtained a forestry degree from Way Community College in 1968.
After graduating Mabry became a forester for Westvaco and worked for them for the next 35 years.
While employed at Westvaco, he became licensed to preach in 1976. Less than four years later, he took the reins at Hendersonville Baptist Church, retiring after 33 years.
But his service to the Lord did not end there. He began to serve as the pastor at Peniel Baptist Church, where he continues to serve. He also serves as a chaplain at the Colleton Medical Center.
Dr. Ernie P. Wiggers, president and CEO of the Nemours Wildlife Foundation, was the guest speaker for the annual banquet.
Wiggers served as the chair of the Fish and Wildlife Department at the University of Missouri before returning to South Carolina and becoming founding director of the Nemours Wildlife Foundation. Wiggers helped establish the South Carolina Prescribed Fire Council and has served as state chair of this council and the South Carolina Chapter of the Wildlife Society.
He also serves on the ACE Basin Task Force.
Wiggers offered the audience a Power Point presentation of Nemours Plantation, beginning with a brief history of the plantation and moving on to describe the diversity of the area and the stewardship efforts to conserve the natural resources. He also spoke about the educational programs for children and adults and the scientific research studies involving all aspects of wildlife and land conservation.