We are pleased to announce the winners of the inaugural class of the Nature Coast Champion award! The Nature Coast Champion is a new award program initiated by the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. The awards recognize people providing leadership and implementation of best practices for conservation and management of natural resources in Florida’s Nature Coast. This year, we presented nine awards to a list of highly deserving candidates.
Bill Delaino – for his dedication to resilient shoreline management and living shorelines. Mr. Delaino was a local champion of the Joe Rains Beach living shoreline. His property is an educational demonstration area for the living shoreline approach and he gladly allows visitors to come have a look. Hundreds of people have visited the site so far!
Sue Colson – for her relentless and passionate pursuit of educational and environmental initiatives over the bast 20 years. Her efforts focus on supporting the Cedar Key Aquaculture Association, the youth in the City and County, water quality improvements, habitat restoration, marine debris cleanups, and more!
Capt. Doug Maple – for his significant and lasting contributions to education and environmental sustainability. Doug’s efforts include his ecotour business, the Cedar Keys Audubon, the Lower Suwannee NWR, and the RESTORE Act project to build an educational Discovery Center at the Nature Coast Biological Station.
Capt. Dan Clymer – for his promotion of sustainable recreational fishing to both clients and peers. He also has shown exemplary leadership of youth outreach focused on fishing in the Citrus County community.
Joe Hand – For his service in the Nature Coast Water Watch program since Jan 2017, where he collects monthly water quality samples from important sites around Cedar Key. He also serves on the Cedar Key Water and Sewer District Board, mentors local youth, and volunteers with the Cedar Key Garden Club and other organizations.
George Bennett – For his service as a critical asset to the success of many of the UF/IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant programs in Hernando County.
George worked for Hernando County’s Waterways Department for over 30 years but he also volunteered for several programs, many of which he is still involved in during retirement. These include citizen science programs, habitat restoration, and research support using his personal boat.
1842 Coffee Shop – For setting examples of sustainable business practices for other businesses, especially limiting or eliminating single-use plastics from their regular stream of food-service products.
Dr. Paul King – For the creation of the Cedar Key Kayak Ecotours, a free guided paddling experience for Cedar Key visitors. Dr. King accepts donations, not for himself or for the kayak company, but to the benefit of the NCBS Discovery Room. Paul’s generosity in this regard has already raised more than $1,000 that goes directly to support educational efforts in the discovery center, including creating new exhibits, maintaining the aquaria, and printing educational materials.
Taylor County Reef Research Team – For their commitment to science and monitoring to support the Taylor County Artificial Reef program. Members of the team observe, collect, and document scientific data for the enhancement of marine habitats in State and Federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Their efforts motivated the creation and enhancement of Buckeye Reef, Andree Reef, and Bird Racks Reef in Taylor County waters.