Retired Wareham teacher earns kudos from Buzzards Bay Coalition

Gayle Whittle given Volunteer Appreciation Award
By Matthew Bernat | May 11, 2017
Photo by: Matthew Bernat Gayle Whittle of Wareham, left, stands with Buzzards Bay Coalition Volunteer Coordinator Lynn Coish after receiving the group's Volunteer Appreciation Award on Thursday.

For the past two years, Wareham’s Gayle Whittle has spent a considerable number of hours, volunteering her time encouraging others to appreciate the beauty of Buzzards Bay.

A retired teacher, she started as a docent at the Richard C. Wheeler Bay Learning Center. She then assisted Buzzards Bay Coalition staff with educational programs and eventually found a second calling at the coalition’s massive, annual fundraiser – the Buzzards Bay Swim.

On Thursday, coalition members recognized her service at the group’s 29th annual meeting with the Volunteer Appreciation Award. Held in the Chart Room restaurant at Cataumet on Cape Cod, the event featured a review of the coalition’s strides toward stemming nitrogen pollution across the South Coast. The group also bestowed its highest honor, the Buzzards Bay Guardian Award, on a longtime Environmental Protection Agency scientist.

Volunteer Coordinator Lynn Coish introduced Whittle, praising her “friendly, confident demeanor.”

“In just a short time at the coalition, she’s excelled in every aspect of volunteerism,” said Coish, adding that Whittle quickly earns the trust of everyone she meets.

After accepting the award, Whittle said that volunteers should, “believe with all of your heart in an organization’s mission. And I believe [the Buzzards Bay Coalition] is doing good work. Otherwise, why would you volunteer?”

After Whittle’s presentation, David Pincumbe, recently retired from the Environmental Protection Agency, was given the Buzzards Bay Guardian Award. He received it in part for helping spearhead an overhaul at the Wareham Water Pollution Control Facility.

In 2005, a $22 million facility upgrade brought cutting edge pollution controls to Wareham. Those changes made it a model to other facilities across New England for reducing nitrogen and phosphorous levels in waterways.

Korrin Petersen, the coalition’s senior attorney, described the upgrade as hugely successful, noting it reduced the amount of nitrogen entering the bay by 90 percent, which is “close to the limit technologically of what New England wastewater treatment plants are capable of.”

Pincumbe joined the federal agency in 1983 and retired last month. In that time, he was instrumental in a wide range of initiatives across Buzzards Bay aimed at reducing pollution and improving water quality, according to Petersen.

In accepting the award, Pincumbe said he appreciated the recognition and urged the crowd to keep working towards its mission.

“We need to keep fighting for better water quality,” he said.

For more information on the Buzzards Bay Coalition, click here.

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