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About ESI

NC ESI logo 2017
NC Environmental Stewardship Initiative
ESI's mission is to assist organizations in reducing their environmental impacts beyond regulatory requirements and recognize those that achieve and maintain this commitment.
The Environmental Stewardship Initiative started in 2002 at the direction of the DENR (now DEQ) Secretary.  The Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance (now DEACS) was charged with administering the program.  The program is funded by a P2 grant from EPA that is matched 100% by the State.  There are 2 full-time DEACS employees that primarily manage this program with support from many other DEACS employees that serve as ESI coaches and provide support and assistance to the ESI members.  The program is free and voluntary for all members.  
Jamie Ragan is the Environmental Assistance Center section chief. Since she began working with NC DEQ in 2003, she has been providing technical assistance to the agricultural community, businesses, industries and government entities. Prior to joining NCDEQ, Jamie was a Natural Resource Conservationist in Wilson County where she managed the Agricultural Cost Share Program for Wilson County. Jamie holds a Master's degree in Environmental Health from East Carolina University and has 17 years' experience providing pollution prevention technical assistance.  To contact Jamie, call 919-707-8141 or email
Angela Hall Barger is co-manager of the ESI.  Angela has over 13 years of experience working for DEQ. Prior to working with DEACS she worked with NCDEQ's Division of Air Quality in a regional office for more than 7 years as a permit and compliance engineer and the region's emissions inventory coordinator. She has 2 B.S. degrees from NCSU in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry and a B.S. degree from Lenoir-Ryne University in Pre-engineering.  To contact Angela, call 919-707-8126 or email
Davy Conners is co-manager of the ESI. Prior to joining DEACS, Davy worked with the Division of Waste Management within DEQ providing technical assistance to the regulated community of underground storage tank owners, facilitating training sessions, and helping tank owners return to compliance. She received her undergraduate degree in Secondary Science Education from North Carolina State University and taught high school science in Wilmington, N.C. for several years. Her master's degree is in Environmental Studies from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.  To contact Davy, call 919-707-8131 or email
T. Keyes McGee Jr. is an Environmental Engineer and ESI Coach with the NC Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service. Keyes has a B.S. Environmental Engineering (1999) from North Carolina State University and has been an employee with State of North Carolina for 16 years. To contact Keyes, call 919-707-8134 or email
Ron Pridgeon is an Environmental Engineer and ESI Coach with the NC Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.  Ron holds an BS in Industrial Engineering from NCSU.  He serves the NC Business and Industrial Sectors working to promote Waste Management, Pollution Prevention and Continuous Improvement.  In his current position, he acts an ESI coach and offers technical assistance via the NC DEQ toll-free hotline.  Ron joined NC State Government in 1991. To contact Ron, call 919-707-8143 or email
Lisa G. Shanklin is an Environmental Chemist and ESI Coach with the NC Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.  Lisa has been in the environmental field for over 25 years.  She started her career a contractor to EPA developing stationary sources test methods for several industrial sectors. As an NCDEQ employee Lisa worked in the Division of Air Quality where she worked on mobile source inventories and the Air Awareness campaign. She now works for the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service with the Environmental Assistance Section and the ESI. Lisa has a degree in Chemistry and English from East Carolina University. To contact Lisa, call 919-707-8142 or email
Sherri Coghill Stanley is an Environmental Engineer and ESI Coach with the NC Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service.  Sherri has over 18 years of environmental experience, primarily in the area of waste management.  She worked as a permitting engineer with the Division of Waste Management and also as an environmental engineer in the Fayetteville Regional Office with the Public Water Supply Section.  Sherri earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from NCSU.  To contact Sherri, call 919-707-8129 or email
The ESI program consists of three levels of participation. 
Environmental Partner - designed for adoption by a broad range of organizations interested in developing a systematic approach to improving their environmental performance or strengthening existing programs. 
Rising Environmental Steward - designed for facilities with a mature environmental management system and measurable goals.
Environmental Steward - for facilities with a history of commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by law and that have demonstrated leadership.  Requires aggressive goals, community involvement, integration of the EMS into core business functions, and demonstration of going beyond compliance. 
All applicants are required to not be under environmental criminal indictment or conviction. DEQ retains the right to reject an applicant following a compliance review.  Multi-site organizations are allowed at the Partner level, however only individual facilities are allowed to apply at the Rising Steward and Steward levels of the ESI program.  
To remain in the program, each participant must:
• Set and make progress toward environmental performance goals and/or show progress on implementing and maintaining an EMS, 
• Demonstrate continued commitment to meet and go beyond compliance, and 
• Submit the required annual report in a timely fashion.
A DEQ Internal Workgroup provides technical support and coordination for the Advisory Board and the overall initiative. The Workgroup is comprised of representatives from all DEQ regulatory divisions.  
Role of DEQ Internal Workgroup
The DEQ Internal Workgroup will:
• Review all applicants to ESI for compliance;
• Perform compliance checks on 5-yr renewals;
• Provide technical guidance on regulatory issues; and
• Review applications for Partner and make recommendations to the DEQ Secretary about participation.
An external Advisory Board, appointed by the DEQ Secretary that does not exceed 15 members oversees program development and implementation. The DEQ Secretary or designee chairs the board. Membership consists of a balanced group of manufacturers, industries, industry trade groups, environmental and citizen non-governmental organizations, agribusiness, small businesses, local and state/federal government representatives, DEQ representatives, and/or others deemed appropriate. Whenever possible, ESI Environmental Stewards are given priority for membership. 
Role of Advisory Board
The Advisory Board will:
• Establish ground rules for discussions including addressing potential conflict of interest issues;
• Review program materials;
• Review applications meeting minimum requirements and recommend Rising Environmental Stewards and Environmental Stewards;
• Make recommendations for additional incentives to the DEQ Secretary as identified;
• Review program effectiveness and make any recommended changes to the DEQ Secretary. 
• Undertake any other duties assigned to them by the DEQ Secretary.
There are many benefits to becoming an ESI member, including individualized technical assistance, access to networking events, free trainings, and the annual ESI Conference.  Visit the Benefits, Services, and Training pages for a more comprehensive list of ESI offerings.
Member's Success
ESI members work hard to reduce their environmental impact by conserving water, decreasing energy consumtion, and curtailing waste.  Each year, they report on their progress towards their environmental goals and we compile the data into an Annual Report.  Learn about the excellent work ESI members are doing by reading the most recent Annual Report or browse through previous Annual Reports