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Annual Volunteer Awards Announced

Annual Volunteer Awards Announced RK Staff with Alicia Smith, Jim Alabiso, and Beth and Peter Welch

Drum roll please...

St. Johns River Advocate of the Year

Jim Alabiso is an outspoken advocate for the St. Johns who swims the river to raise awareness about our community's most important natural resource. Over the last two years, Jim has worked tirelessly, leading and organizing dozens of swimming and paddle events in the river and speaking to numerous civic organizations and groups throughout the region.  Jim and his JumpingFish team have organized a 6-kilometer swims across the river, a 12- mile swim up the St. Johns, and over a dozen Rebel Mile Swims through Downtown Jacksonville. His swimming regimen has kept Jim fit and active while raising awareness about our river's health and the benefits it provides to our quality of life and well-being.  His continued advocacy has demonstrated to countless people that swimming is a possibility in the St. Johns River, protecting our river is not a lost cause, and restoring its health is within our reach.  

St. Johns Riverkeeper Volunteer of the Year

Alicia Smith is the 2012 Volunteer of the Year due to her commitment, drive, and willingness to go above and beyond for the St. Johns River and our organization.  Alicia is the volunteer you can always count on. She regularly staffs the St. Johns Riverkeeper table at community events, solicits donations for raffles and funraising efforts like the "Save the St. Johns Pub Crawl," and organizes kayak trips and cleanups.  Alicia is also one of the leaders of Rising Tides, St. Johns Riverkeeper's young professionals group.  Always up for a challenge and wanting to do more, she is planning to begin monthly cleanups of McCoys and Hogan’s Creek, two of Jacksonville’s most polluted urban waterways.  

Bioswale Volunteer Service Award

Peter and Beth Welch regularly volunteer with St. Johns Riverkeeper, but it has been their dedicated service to the Lasalle Bioswale that sets them apart.  With a grant from Coca-Cola, St. Johns Riverkeeper and our partners were able to install the bioswale in December of 2011 to demonstrate how Low Impact Development (LID) or Green Infrastructure strategies can be effectively utilized to manage and treat stormwater.  A portion of the runoff from Lasalle Street and the surrounding area is now diverted into the bioswale, helping to clean the stormwater before it enters our river.  St. Johns Riverkeeper signed an agreement with the City of Jacksonville to maintain the bioswale for the first year.  Peter and Beth have helped to spearhead this effort, handwatering plants to get them established, pulling weeds, and keeping the swale free of trash.   Due in part to their volunteer services, this demonstration project serves as an outstanding example of how LID practices can enhance the beauty of the neighborhood, provide habitat for wildlife, and effectively manage and treat stormwater.

A special thanks goes out to Paul Garfinkel and River Road Photography and Seth Williams and The Resident Community News for donating the photographs for the awards and to Ryan Buckley and Gallery Framery for donating the framing. 

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