Top: Hange, his coworkers and family pose for a picture after participating in a volunteer planting at Newman Branch Creek. Hange is on the left. Others pictured include Brian Townsend, equipment operator; Randy Hinkle, field operations coordinator; Danielle Hange, Adam’s daughter; and Karen Hange, Adam’s wife. Bottom: Hange and his daughter working together to plant marsh grass.
Adam Hange, a District senior heavy equipment operator, may work with machines that move dirt, but his true love is the water.
Born in Pennsylvania, Hange’s family moved to Florida when he was 18 months old, so he considers himself a true Floridian.
“When I was five, my dad took me on his shrimp boat and I was hooked on the water from that day on,” said Hange. “After that, I spent weekends and every summer on the boat somewhere in Tampa Bay.”
To help protect and restore the bay he loves, Hange takes advantage of volunteer opportunities through the District and Tampa Bay Watch. This past April, Tampa Bay Watch nominated Hange for the United Way’s “Volunteer of the Year” Award in the category of animals and environment. More than 100 people were nominated in the ten categories, and while Hange was not selected for the top honor in his category, he feels honored to represent the District in a positive way. Hange has volunteered his time for a variety of projects, including salt marsh and seagrass plantings, constructing oyster bars and domes, coastal cleanups and removing derelict crab traps from Old Tampa Bay. Some of the locations where he has volunteered include Cockroach Bay, Ft. DeSoto, Port Redwing, Newman Branch Creek, Cabbage Key, a bird sanctuary island near John’s Pass, and along the Friendship Trail and Bayshore Boulevard.
He was also involved in a special project transplanting seagrass at MacDill Air Force Base. The project was coordinated by Tampa Bay Watch and the city of Tampa.
“A lot of these projects were done on weekdays, and without the help of Tim Bailey or Randy Hinkle adjusting my schedule and approving the time off, none of this would be possible,” said Hange. “Without their support I could not have accomplished this much.”
Before coming to the District, Hange built and owned several shrimp boats of his own and also worked on oceangoing tugboats.
He started working at the District in June 1999 as a heavy equipment operator mowing the Tampa Bypass Canal. Since then he has had the opportunity to earn his commercial driver’s license, attend fire school training and oversee Regional Observation and Monitor Well Program well site maintenance before going through more cross-training to advance to a senior equipment operator.
In his current position, Hange has worked in a wide variety of roles at the District, including transporting heavy equipment to job sites and running bulldozers, excavators, loaders, tractors, grade-alls and lawn equipment. He also supports land management in controlled burns and fighting wildfires. However, the assignments he really enjoys are helping with Surface Water Improvement and Management (SWIM) Program projects.
Hange was part of the District’s operations crew on the Newman Branch Creek Restoration project. The crew cleared the land and recontoured the creek.
“I was the one that excavated the last section of berm to connect the restoration project to Tampa Bay,” said Hange. “It was a very fulfilling moment for me to know that I was the one to bring her to life, like the first breath that a baby takes.”
Hange and his family also participated in the volunteer planting.
“I was so proud. I had to show my family that specific area of the project when we finished planting.”
Hange likes to include his wife and teenage daughter on weekend volunteer projects because he believes it is important to work together as a family and to build something that future generations can look back on and be inspired to also give back to the environment.
“Growing up on Tampa Bay I’ve seen a lot of habitat lost to development,” said Hange. “I feel sad that my daughter will never see the bay as I did when I was young, but through SWIM projects and volunteer restorations, maybe we can help break the chain of habitat loss.”
Hange says he hopes that one day, when he’s a grandfather, he can take his grandkids to one of the restored sites and tell them how their mom and grandparents helped preserve it for them to enjoy.
Above: Hange, his coworkers and family pose for a picture after participating in a volunteer planting at Newman Branch Creek. Hange is on the left. Others pictured include Brian Townsend, equipment operator; Randy Hinkle, field operations coordinator; Danielle Hange, Adam’s daughter; and Karen Hange, Adam’s wife. Right: Hange and his daughter working together to plant marsh grass.