“Environmental Heroes,” UNC-TV documentary, features work of UNC public health students

June 30, 2009
Associate producer Jim Sander interviews former hog farmer Don Webb (left) and environmental hero Gary Grant on Grant's porch in Tillery, N.C.

Associate producer Jim Sander interviews former hog farmer Don Webb (left) and environmental hero Gary Grant on Grant’s porch in Tillery, N.C.

“Environmental Heroes,” a documentary developed through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Journalism and Mass Communication science documentary television course, airs July 4 at 11 p.m. during the “North Carolina Visions” film festival on UNC-TV (North Carolina Public Television). Students from the journalism school and the Gillings School of Global Public Health were writers and producers on the project.

Participants from the public health school include Jessica Hughes, Julea Steiner, Kathryn Barr, Jiang Li, Kevin McKenna and Emily Waters. Former public health communications intern and journalism alumna Maggie de Pano (partially obscured in the photo above) also contributed to the film.

The 22-minute program profiles three North Carolinians who have worked to protect and improve the state’s environment: Gary Grant of Tillery, Dean Brooks of Goldston and Todd Miller of Newport.

Grant, the public health school’s 2009 commencement speaker, has worked for decades as a community activist to protect his black farming community from polluting industries such as corporate hog farms. He led the fight to institute a hog farm moratorium in North Carolina.

Brooks, a former dairy farmer, started and runs one of the largest compost businesses in the southeastern United States. He and his family turn organic waste into profit while reducing garbage going into landfills.

Miller is the founder and executive director of the North Carolina Coastal Federation in Newport. He has built one of the largest coastal protection organizations on the East Coast.

“It’s fitting that this documentary will air on the Fourth of July since the three North Carolinians who were profiled are true American heroes,” said Tom Linden, MD, executive producer of the television program and director of the journalism school’s medical and science journalism program.

Associate producers of the program are Jim Sander, documentary film producer and adjunct professor at High Point University, and Blair Pollock, environmental film producer and solid waste planner for Orange County. Additional participants from the journalism school were Joseph Marra, Sarah Whitmarsh, Kelly Chi, Julia Connors and Zachary Ferriola-Bruckenstein.


UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, or ramona_dubose@unc.edu.