Former Duke University basketball standout, Steve Vacendak, spoke to Hickory Rotary. Vacendak played varsity basketball for the Blue Devils from 1964-1966. During that span Duke twice reached the Final Four of the NCAA basketball tournament. In 1964 Duke finished runner-up to UCLA and in 1966 Duke lost to Kentucky in the national semifinals. During Vacendak’s career, the Blue Devils were 72-14. In 1966 Vacendak was named Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, as well as MVP of the ACC tournament.
Currently Steve is the Executive Director of NC Beautiful, a private non-profit organization dedicated to raising the awareness and appreciation of our natural beauty and resources and the importance of environmental stewardship through its various education programs. NC Beautiful’s mission: To foster environmental stewardship through education and outreach to perpetuate the natural beauty of North Carolina.
NC Beautiful has been providing environmental education and beautification opportunities that elevate the quality of life of North Carolinians for over 40 years. The organization was chartered in 1967 as part of Governor Dan K. Moore’s pledge to emphasize preserving the physical beauty of North Carolina.
In the early 70s, NC Beautiful focused on promotional and educational activities that would improve the state’s visual and physical environment. As the organization continued to grow through the 70s and into the 80s, it initiated programs aimed at enhancing the state’s visual appeal, preserving natural resources, and educating children and adults on how they could impact environmental quality. Programs like the Clean Community System to fight litter, Adopt-A-Highway, Take Pride in the Carolinas, and the School Beautification Awards all helped create awareness and action. In the 90s, its focus broadened to include programs addressing environmental literacy issues such as waste management, environmental protection, and preservation of natural resources.
Today, NC Beautiful concentrates on hands-on programs designed to encourage and empower active involvement by all North Carolinians. Programs such as Windows of Opportunity Grants, the Environmental Scholars Program, the Moore Fellowship Program, and the Annual Azalea Celebration, have become organization and community standards.
NC Beautiful has been part of the state’s environmental preservation community for 40 years, supporting awareness, education and beautification efforts that affect our quality of life. Today, we concentrate on hands-on and merit-based programs designed to empower our citizens to preserve the natural beauty of the state of North Carolina. Whether it’s school children building outdoor classrooms, graduate students developing cutting edge research, or a Boy Scout troop planting azaleas at an elder care facility, we make it possible for North Carolinians to keep NC Beautiful. For more information, visit www.ncbeautiful.org.
Steve Vacendak, Executive Director