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Catawba Ecological Preserve Named for Fred Stanback in Surprise Ceremony

11/08/12 by Juanita Teschner

Bill Stanback and Mike Baranski join Fred Stanback and John Wear at the new sign at the entrance to the Fred Stanback, Jr. Ecological Preserve. Photo by Cathy Holladay.

Catawba College’s 189-acre environmental preserve was named for environmental champion Fred Stanback on November 8 in a special surprise ceremony honoring the longtime benefactor and advocate of the Center for the Environment.

Dr. John Wear, the Center’s executive director, recognized the Stanback family – Fred and his wife, Alice, and his late mother, Elizabeth, who was the principal benefactor in the construction of the facility that houses the Center for the Environment – at the event, which was held at the entrance to what is now the “Fred Stanback, Jr. Ecological Preserve.”

Catawba College President Brien Lewis and Catawba Trustee Chair Darlene Ball unveiled the new sign, which also includes a reference to the Elizabeth Stanback Gardens.

“Fred – and indeed the Stanback family – are remarkable role models for their persistence and vision on environmental matters,” Lewis said.  “The Center and the preserve are outstanding teaching tools to help all of us learn how to be good stewards of our community and our vital natural resources.”

Ball noted that Fred’s mother’s gift for the Center facility and “the many scholarships and other investments that you have provided help bring students to Catawba who are interested in and excited about becoming better stewards of our surprisingly fragile world.  I cannot think of anything that is more important to the future of our universe,” she said.


Fred Stanback responds to the surprise honor. Photo by Tracy MacKay-Ratliff.

Wear spoke of many people who have been a part of the preserve’s development. “It takes a community to create what we have developed here with our Center and our ecological preserve,” he said. “It takes people with a variety of skills, abilities and interests, each coming to the table to offer what they can provide personally.”

He cited the importance of everyone’s efforts. “When we look at the accomplishments of our Center for the Environment, we can all stand proud because, I dare say, everyone here today is part of that picture – from the professor who took part in an Environmental Science Day to the students who took it upon themselves to remove the invasive species to the preserve keeper who decided there might be a better way to make the walk down to the lake so that people of all ages could walk down there safely.”


Catawba Trustee Chair Darlene Ball lauds Stanback for his influence on young people. 
Photo by Tracy MacKay-Ratliff.

He recognized three people who originally envisioned turning the farmland into a preserve: Bill and Fred Stanback and Dr. Mike Baranski, Catawba biology professor, now professor emeritus, who was instrumental in the preserve’s creation. He also recognized Windsor and James Eagle and Tim Smith and Flora Development, who donated land; the city of Salisbury; and preserve keepers Bret Estep, Mark Martin, Jim Ijames, Kurt Cribb and Matt Hendricks.

“The preserve keepers worked closely with a team of students that probably, since we stared these efforts, would now total close to 100 students,” Wear said. “Over the decades that this project has been under way, students have shoveled and trimmed their way through college as part of our work-study program.”

But one person stands above all others, Wear said. “That is Fred Stanback. Fred has for many years supported campus efforts to educate our students to be better stewards of our environment while demonstrating his own personal commitment to doing so himself – in thought, word and deed.”

Noting that Stanback has always taken “the long view,” Wear said he has shared his vision and wise counsel, connecting the Center with nationally and internationally known thought leaders and encouraging the Center staff to advance a sustainable future. 

“Fred has also helped a number of young people discover how they can make a difference in the world through scholarships, internships and programs that offer what one of our graduates called environmental education ‘for the real world,’” Wear said.

Stanback was presented a book about the preserve, which features the many educational activities that take place on the property every year, and an online journal of messages from friends.

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