Carl Cole Service Award

And the Award goes to ……………. Linda Rowe!

Linda admits she was caught by surprise when she received the first Carl Cole Service Award. It was a beautiful sunny day in early January, during CMNA’s biannual membership gathering at James Island County Park. The afternoon included a byo lunch, a nature ramble, the 2022 CMNA Board elections, the CMNA Fall 2021 Class graduation, and a presentation by guest speaker Jake Zadik.

A highlight of the day was the presentation of the first annual Carl Cole Service Award. Carl Cole, an avid CMNA volunteer, passed away in November 2021. To learn more about Carl, look for the tribute in this post.

The Carl Cole award will be given annually to a CMNA member whose volunteer work reflects the spirit of Carl’s contributions. This year, that volunteer is Linda Rowe.

Linda discovered the CCPRC Coastal Master Naturalist Program upon returning from four and a half years in Germany. With a young daughter, she didn’t want to work full time, but wanted to get involved in the Charleston community. In 2012, Linda called to enroll in the master naturalist class. When she did, the registrar laughed and told her the class filled up on the first day of registration. To get into the next class, Linda would need to call as soon as the office opened on January first. Linda did just that, and got in on her second try. She graduated in the Spring 2013.In the nine years since, Linda volunteered for numerous organizations in many different roles.

One of her first involved periodically walking a stretch of beach and counting dead seabirds for the Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET) citizen science project . For a time, Linda monitored a Least Tern nesting site on the roof of a North Charleston building. Once a day, she would walk around the building looking for chicks that had fallen off the roof. Unharmed because of their light weight, Linda would scoop them up and return them to the building’s roof and their parents.

Linda also volunteered with the South Carolina Aquarium picking up trash via kayak. Thinking it would be fun to have company, Linda expanded it into a monthly CMNA member event. For two summers, Linda netted bats with DNR. This is one of her favorite roles to date, working in the dark remote woods with the bats, which she feels are so misunderstood.

Linda’s other favorite role was serving on the Board of CMNA from 2015 through 2021. For two years of that time, Linda was membership chair and for four years, she served as the treasurer. Linda enjoyed the organizational and social aspects of serving on the Board and staying in touch with other master naturalists. Since the spring of 2013, Linda has logged 436 volunteer service hours. Linda currently works for the South Carolina Aquarium as Conservation Programs Coordinator, and she plans to continue volunteering as a Coastal Master Naturalist.

Her advice to other Master Naturalists? “Be open minded to giving something new a try – challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone.”
~ Christine Magnarella Ray

Jake Zadik, presenter for the afternoon

A word from CMNA president, Dave Eslinger

Photos courtesy of Kristina Wheeler and Edsel Taylor

Carl Cole, photographed while volunteering as a Shorebird Steward for SC Audubon. Photos courtesy of Nolan Schillerstrom

Why the Carl Cole Service Award?

At the age of 74, Carl William Cole passed away peacefully at home on November 22, 2021. Carl was a proud sailor (he was the son of a sailor and father of a sailor), he remained active in the support of his American shipmates aboard the USS Newport News, as well as Australian shipmates aboard the HMAS Hobart with whom they took fire, and he was quick to offer a “Welcome home, Brother” and handshake to every veteran he met.

Carl spent his career in the emerging world of computers, and he learned to program when computers were room-sized and memory was printed on cards on a conveyer belt. A seeker and a poet, Carl approached the end of his life with the same sense of wonder and curiosity with which he undertook everything he accomplished. He had a fascination with our human existence:
Raindrops splash into the ocean The physics of the splash creates a central column that rises briefly above the surface Individual molecules that made up both the drop and the splash become indistinguishable in the ocean And are lost forever to endless cycles of evaporation and precipitation Be the splash Be the tip of that splash briefly above the surface and gaze out at the immensity of the ocean But know also that you are the ocean Be the ocean Be the thunderstorm Be a swamp teaming with life Be the trickle of a mountain stream Be a cool, refreshing drink

A colleague of mine stated that “Carl made an art form out of retirement with a well-thought out purpose and joy.” I quote her because I cannot summarize it any better. His post-retirement years were spent tending a thriving garden and serving as a master naturalist after graduating from the Fall of 2012 Class.

His love of working on controlled burns earned him the Choctaw name, Yakni Hokmi (Earth Scorcher), from his Choctaw friend, Yukpah Nishkin (Jerri-Ann). He served actively in Charleston Water Keepers, Shorebird Stewards with Audubon, Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow, SCDNR, and the Native Plant Society.

From December 2012 – June 2020 Carl logged over 2690 hours of service. In honor of Carl and his incredible dedication, the CMNA has created the CCSA
~ Kristina Wheeler