For the second year in a row, a prominent Columbus, Georgia environmentalist has received the Dan Reed Service Above Self Award, the highest award given each year to a non-Rotarian by the Rotary Club of Columbus.
This year’s winner is Kyle Spencer, a retired stock broker who is the founder of Trees Columbus, an organization that works to protect and grow an urban tree canopy for Columbus.
Last year’s winner was environmentalist and attorney Ken Henson, also a member of Trees Columbus, as well as the Columbus Coalition for Sound Growth.
Both men not only support local environmentalist organizations, they also go to bat on the state level, fighting Atlanta sewage pollution which affects the Chattahoochee River, which flows through Columbus, and fighting state laws that allow billboard companies to cut down trees along highways so their billboards can be read. Those fights are not over. Atlanta still has a big sewer problem and billboard company lobbyists have a lot of clout at the state capitol.
Both men received the award for other contributions to the welfare of the Columbus area community as well. For instance, Kyle Spencer, who was in the navy during world War II, and who graduated from Princeton, is a significant supporter of Columbus State University, providing funds for the Spencer House in Oxford, England. The house is used by CSU faculty and students studying at Oxford University each summer.
It is encouraging to me that environmentalists are receiving such recognition by the Rotary Club of Columbus, because it is a 330-member service club populated by many influential business, professional, religious, educational, and civic leaders in Columbus. I believe that if ever the environment needs important support, it’s now.