Margie Vicknair-Pray for St. Tammany Parish President
7am til 8pm
Community & Corporate Contributions and Honors:
Directed/developed volunteer programs and projects to help make Louisiana a better place to live:
And contributed time, direction and money to many other volunteer efforts:
Margie Vicknair-Pray has been an active voice in the business and environmental community of the greater New Orleans/Northshore area since the early 1980s. Her family moved from Metairie to Slidell when she was eight years old. She grew up in the Bayou Liberty area, enjoying the “ozone air” which was then a feature of living on the Northshore, and the delicious clean, pure well water of the area. She spent many days riding her horse with friends, participating in gymkhana games at Lewis’ Stables, and fishing, boating, exploring and just enjoying the beauty of St Tammany. She graduated from Slidell High School in 1970, and started college at the University of New Orleans. Never one to rush a good thing, she finally earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Houston in 2011, graduating Magna Cum Laude while juggling a full time job as Senior Safety Tech for Anadarko Petroleum and functioning as a single-parent. Her daughter, of whom she is extraordinarily proud, is in post-graduate studies at the University of Chicago.
Before daughter and oil and gas, however, she developed a career first in graphics design, working as a freelance artist for some of the better print houses in New Orleans. She stumbled into the environmental movement through her love of the outdoors, and began volunteering at the then new Louisiana Nature Center in New Orleans East. She started a volunteer group there to combat waste issues such as the need for recycling and litter abatement, and then directed the group, Recycle New Orleans. This involvement in garbage grew into a full-time occupation, and she developed a career as a recycling and waste minimization consultant to many businesses in the New Orleans and Gulf Coast area. She helped develop in-house programs for companies such as Conoco, Shell, Amoco, Hotel Intercontinental, Freeport-McMoRan, First NBC, and many others.
She was a member of the Sierra Club New Orleans Group when, in 1985, a concerned member brought up the idea of cleaning debris from beaches, inspired by a program they’d see in operation in New Jersey. This was the beginning of the Louisiana Coastal Cleanup. Margie first motivated and organized dozens of citizens in New Orleans, and then called for help from the newly formed Clean Team in Baton Rouge, bringing over 150 people to the beaches of Grand Isle for the first Coastal Cleanup. Her second attempt in 1986, brought almost 400 volunteers to Grand Isle. She went statewide with the help of oil and gas companies in 1987, after she approached them with some of the debris, labeled with energy company names, that had been picked up in prior years. After the 1987 cleanup, which saw over 3,000 volunteers out from the Chandeleur Islands to Cameron, she was approached by the Lt. Governor’s office, which asked if they could take over and make it an annual state-run program, which happened in 1988 when “Beachsweep” was formed.
She has worked as a lobbyist in Washington D.C., meeting and negotiating with the likes of Senators J. Bennett Johnston and John Breaux (who both came to Grand Isle for the 1987 Coastal Cleanup), and meeting often with Congressman Richard Baker, who had Margie “read into” the 101st Congressional Record for her creation and development of the Coastal Cleanup.
Governor Buddy Roemer asked her to work with Director Paul Templet’s LA-DEQ to develop state-wide recycling, and she contributed heavily to the creation of the USA’s first-ever statewide recycling legislation. Yes, Louisiana has a positive first! Sadly, since Governor Roemer’s departure, our groundbreaking legislation has been neglected and fallen into disuse over most of the state.
The first EarthDay coordinator in 1970, Denis Hayes, learned of successes such as Recycle New Orleans! and the Louisiana Coastal Cleanup and selected Margie for the role of Director for EarthDay1990: New Orleans. He told her afterwards that he considered the New Orleans event to be among the top three in the nation.
She has spent the past twenty-plus years as a single parent, working as an oil and gas safety professional for much of that time. She recently came home and settled in Lacombe, happily leaving the polluted and frantic world of Houston, where she’d moved after Katrina. Her job with Anadarko Petroleum involved onboarding contractor service companies, such as hydraulic fracturing providers, and now gives her special insight into the world of drilling and fracking and the processes and dangers related to this industry. She and her four adopted rescue dogs enjoy birdwatching and gardening when not fighting anti-fracking battles.