The City of Alexandria’s Environmental Policy Commission and the Alexandria Renew Enterprises are proud to announce Montie Kust as the recipient of the second annual Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award.
Ms. Kust, a resident of Alexandria since 1957, has always considered her nearly three-acre property a wildlife sanctuary where she not only helped her own children appreciate the natural wonders around them, but opened up her land to educators, environmentalists, birders, and everyday citizens. In 2006, she created a conservation easement over her property in order to protect it as a nature reserve. For this contribution to Alexandria's environmental sustainability, Ms. Kust was awarded the 2006 Alexandria Conservationist of the Year by the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust. In addition, Ms. Kust hosts several public-outreach events on her property every year. These events include invasive plant-pull parties and garden tours. The tours highlight her niche gardens, which include a re-created Sweet Bay Magnolia bog, organic fruit and vegetable gardens, fern and meadow gardens, and woodland wildflower patches. Box turtles, whose numbers continue to fall throughout Virginia, thrive on Ms. Kust's land that is supported by the wild May Apples.
Ms. Kust joined numerous efforts by the Virginia Native Plant Society to control invasive species. She worked with her fellow neighbors and environmentalists to ensure that a proposed erosion-control project in the Monticello Park creek was more natural, and later planted Ferns and Tulip Tree seedlings, supplied by the Alexandria Parks Department, in the impacted area. Now 88 years old, Ms. Kust continues to work for a more ecologically healthy and beautiful world. Her dedication and service to the environment is an example for all of us.