Left: Deborah Kynes, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council chair; Sallie Parks, Governing Board member; Kendra Antoine, senior communications coordinator; Maritza Rovira-Forino, Governing Board member; and Manny Pumariega, Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council executive director, accept the Future of the Region Award for the “Hillsborough River Watershed Awareness Week” project. Right: Sallie Parks, Governing Board member; Kurt Zuelsdorf, Community Education Grant recipient; Maritza Rovira-Forino, Governing Board member; and Virginia Sternberger, Community Education Grant coordinator, accept the Future of the Region Award for Zuelsdorf’s “Bring Back the Bayou” project.
The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council recognized two District education projects during its 16th Annual Future of the Region Awards luncheon in March.
The awards recognize notable achievements in resource planning and management in the region.
BRING BACK THE BAYOU
The Bring Back the Bayou project received second place in the community service category. Funding from the District’s Community Education Grant Program helped Kurt Zuelsdorf, owner of Kayak Nature Adventures, conduct a series of cleanups in Clam Bayou Nature Preserve last year. The grant provided kayak rental, trash bags and the equipment volunteers needed to collect the trash.
Zuelsdorf coordinated the cleanups, which attracted about 800 volunteers who helped collect approximately 10,000 pounds of trash over the eight-week period.
Virginia Sternberger, coordinator of the District’s Community Education Grant Program, was proud to see one of the grant projects making such a big impact.
“This project shows how one person’s enthusiasm can grow among a whole group of people and really make a difference.”
The project also received substantial television and newspaper coverage, which broadened the audience to nearly five million people. This project educated the public about the damage that household waste does to an estuary and how to preserve the area. It also reinforced the District’s efforts to educate the public about watershed protection.
HILLSBOROUGH RIVER WATERSHED AWARENESS WEEK
The Hillsborough River Watershed Awareness Week project received second place in the education category. The District’s education efforts focus on developing an environmentally conscious and responsible public. One method used by the District involves creating watershed education programs that engage the individual and community in protecting watersheds and the water resources within them. Hillsborough River Watershed Awareness Week included a variety of special events, including a workshop, youth education activities and a cleanup, to benefit the Hillsborough River watershed.
District staff coordinated with ten entities within the watershed to join the District’s Hillsborough River Basin Board in declaring October 20–27, 2007, as Hillsborough River Watershed Awareness Week.
Of the more than 2,000 people who participated in the events, 160 demonstrated their commitment to watershed protection by signing a pledge. More than 216,000 residents were reached through media coverage, further increasing awareness of the watershed. These watershed education efforts resulted in a more educated population, minimizing further water quality impacts.