Photo credit: Wes Lester, City of Jacksonville

March 28, 2011: On March 25th, St. Johns Riverkeeper presented its annual advocacy, education, and volunteer awards at the Mayor's Environmental Luncheon held at the Jacksonville Main Library.

2011 River Advocate Award – Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton
During his two terms as mayor, Mayor John Peyton has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to protecting and restoring Jacksonville’s greatest natural resource, the St. Johns River. Through his leadership, Jacksonville initiated the River Accord, a multi-agency, ten-year restoration program that provides a roadmap for restoring the health of the Lower Basin of the St. Johns River. Mayor Peyton and the City of Jacksonville took a courageous stand in opposition to the plans in Central Florida to remove millions of gallons of freshwater from the flow of the St. Johns River. Peyton and his administration successfully developed and implemented irrigation, fertilizer, and Florida-Friendly landscaping ordinances to reduce excessive water use and prevent nutrient runoff into Jacksonville’s waterways. In 2008, he took a public stand against the Georgia-Pacific pipeline. Mayor Peyton led the effort to create the stormwater utility that provides a dedicated funding source for water quality improvement programs, increased public access to the river, and expanded efforts to remove failing septic tanks and extend sewer lines into these areas. This is the first time that we have given the award to an elected official. 

River Educator of the Year – Kimberly Harrison, Principal, Susie E. Tolbert Elementary
Kimberly Harrison has demonstrated outstanding leadership for the St. Johns River and the natural world by helping to initiate numerous environmental awareness and education projects at Susie E. Tolbert Elementary School. Highlighted programs include:

  • Launching a partnership with St. Johns Riverkeeper and Rainforest Alliance funded by the Weaver Family Foundation to connect students to the river through classroom programs, field trips, and river cleanups,
  • Raising $2000 to purchase 20 acres of Ecuadorian Rainforest,
  • Starting a “Green Champion” school recycling program and brochure,
  • Creating raised garden beds to cultivate organic fruits and vegetable,
  • Initiating the Earthkeepers ambassador program, and
  • Instituting a sustainability education unit.

St. Johns Riverkeeper Volunteer of the Year – Deborah Lamir
St. Johns Riverkeeper's volunteers are critical to our work, yet they don’t often end up in the spotlight or get the recognition from the public that they deserve. Deborah Lamir is one of those volunteers. Deb has quietly served behind the scenes as our Newsletter Editor for over 7 years, transforming our newsletter into a professionally-produced and highly-effective communication and education tool for the organization. Recently, Deborah also joined the Board of Directors of St. Johns Riverkeeper.

We are grateful to all of the award recipients for the important role that they play in helping to protect and restore our St. Johns River!

I also want to thank Paul Garfinkel and Will Dickey for donating their beautiful photography for the awards.  You can see Will's photo that was used for the River Advocate Award in the image above.