April 2018
Class XVII Fellows at Volusia Blue Spring.
Photo by Wendy-Lin Bartels.
A note to NRLI Alumni

We are excited to see many of you at the Class XVII graduation this week. When the Class XVII Fellows receive their certificates on Friday evening, we will officially surpass the magic "300 alumni" mark!  Alumni are now everywhere in Florida, and we are working hard to keep you connected. In fact, this year's graduation program will also include a NRLI continuing education opportunity. On Friday, graduating Fellows and visiting alumni will participate in a training session on Implicit Bias offered by Liz Redford of Project Implicit. It will be our second formal alumni training-and-networking event with many more on the horizon. 
Speaking of training and networking, we are approaching the end of our recruiting efforts for NRLI Class XVIII (2018-2019). Thanks to those who have helped thus far, and if you know someone who might benefit from the program, PLEASE HAVE THEM APPLY ASAP; the application process closes May 4--for more information, go to

Enjoy the April weather, and reach out to a Fellow alum--let's stay connected.
~The NRLI Project Team (Jon, Jessica, Wendy-Lin, Joy, & Paul)
Class XVII Session 7
Endangered Springs
Session 7 was held in DeLand and focused on Endangered Springs. Fellows learned about the complex interplay between water quality and water quality issues for Volusia Blue Spring.
Ginger Adair, Director of Environmental Management, Volusia County (NRLI Alumna, Class IX), was the guest speaker for the session. Ginger provided background information on the Volusia-Blue Spring Basin, including the stakeholders, biology of the spring, information on water quality and water quantity issues, as well as the policies governing these issues. She also provided background on the Blue Spring Working Group--with the goal of "support[ing] spring protection through stakeholder coordination and collaboration"--and the Blue Spring Alliance--with the mission of "enhanc[ing] protection and restoration of the quantity and quality of water flowing to Blue Spring from its springshed and of fish and wildlife habitats in the spring and spring run."

For the field trip, Keith Ulrich, Director of Water Resources and Utilities for Volusia County, led a tour of  the Southwest Regional Water Reclamation Facility in DeBary, an advanced wastewater treatment and reuse facility. The facility implements treatment processes and uses advanced technologies enabling additional removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from effluent water used for reclaimed supply and recharge. Following the tour of the facility, Fellows enjoyed a boardwalk tour of the spring run and spring vent at Blue Spring State Park and then canoeing on the St. Johns River.
For this session, individuals who joined us for the stakeholder discussion to share experiences and perspectives on Volusia Blue Spring were:
  • Michael (Mike) Ulrich, Director, Volusia County Water Resources & Utilities;
  • Casey Fitzgerald, Director, Springs Protection Initiative, St. Johns River Water Management District;
  • Clay Henderson, Executive Director, Institute for Water and Environmental Resilience, Stetson University;
  • Patrick Rose, Executive Director, Save the Manatee Club;
  • Keith Riger, Public Services Director, City Engineer, City of DeLand; and
  • Steve Kintner, Vice Chair, Blue Spring Alliance (former Director of Volusia County Environmental Management & former Director of West Volusia Audubon).
The Project Team would like to thank Ginger Adair (NRLI Class IX) and Carol Lippincott (NRLI Class VIII) for their help planning session 7. We cannot thank you enough for all of your input and assistance--it was a great session!
In This Issue
Quick Links
Each month, we ask a pair of Fellows to review the session in their own words. This article describes reflections from the point of view of Fellows Rachael Santana & Liz Ramirez.
Fellows' Article
Environmental Accounting for the Volusia Blue Spring:
Public Perception & Paying for Pollution
By Rachael Santana & Liz Ramirez
For Session 7, Class XVII traveled to DeLand to observe firsthand when multi-stakeholder processes result in building collaboration and communication between stakeholders and even positive environmental change. Volusia County is home to the Volusia Blue Spring. Volusia Blue is so vital to the local economy and environment that if one was to reference it as springs instead of spring, they will be quickly and assertively corrected.
The health of Volusia Blue has been the subject of extensive study and regulatory efforts, including minimum flows and levels and most recently total maximum daily loads. These regulations have been put in place to both ensure that Volusia Blue receives an adequate amount of water and that the water that enters the spring has low enough levels of nitrogen and phosphorous for the spring's ecosystem. The desired water quantity for Volusia Blue is primarily set based on the spring serving as critical habitat for the threatened Florida Manatee. During the Fellows chilly morning field trip to Volusia Blue, park rangers counted over 100 manatees coming to the head of the spring for warmth. The consistent presence of the manatees has cemented Volusia Blue as a tourist destination, as well as a beloved local spot for picnics and water recreation.
Many stakeholders have come together in Volusia to try to improve the water quality and water quality within the Volusia Blue Springshed in relatively short timelines. In order to do so, the Fellows heard that there have been years of stakeholder meetings, coalitions have formed, others have morphed out of the original groups, and stakeholders remain in constant communication- discussing the latest water conferences and potential technological solutions to protect Volusia Blue. Despite meeting initial water quantity targets, having enough water that meets quality guidelines has created new challenges and introduced new stakeholders to the conversation.
The Volusia Springshed is made up of several municipalities and unincorporated parts of Volusia County. Additionally, the Springshed contains significant residential and commercial development, a small percentage are on sewer service, but over 41,000 properties remain on septic systems with 26,000 septic tanks within the priority focus area. Under some studies septic systems contribute 54% of the nutrient loading into Volusia Blue. That's a lot of stakeholders to reach and ask to spend money to convert to sewer. Volusia County Water Resources and Utilities customers on the other hand contribute 8-12% towards spring pollution. The Utility has recently upgraded to a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment facility which is greatly assisting meeting the water quality goals for Volusia Blue. Throughout the session, Fellows heard discussions by the major players of questions of fairness and potential ways to educate the significant percentage of septic system owners about the role of septic systems on Volusia Blue.
Volusia County Environmental Management Director and NRLI Class IX Alumna, Ginger Adair, has been involved in the efforts to protect Volusia Blue and to educate the public regarding the steps that will be needed to meet the tiered minimum flows and levels and total maximum daily load regulations. Ginger greatly assisted the Fellows by providing substantive and procedural context for the struggles and successes in trying to restore essentially pre-development water levels and to reduce the levels of nitrogen and phosphorous entering Volusia Blue. One of the main take-aways in educating the public is to lose the technical jargon. Ginger and Utility Director, Mike Ulrich both stressed the importance of speaking plainly to the public. Trying to explain to a homeowner why their septic system needs to be updated, often at a cost to them of many thousand dollars, because of nitrogen and phosphorous loading and nutrification of Volusia Blue is a losing battle. Instead, Ginger and Mike suggested calling it like it is, pollution. While still an uphill battle, educating the public on their contributions to the pollution of the spring may be the best way to seek to achieve voluntary compliance on an issue that is poorly perceived by the public. On the topic of public perception, the Fellows were both surprised and impressed when Mike mentioned that the Utility was tackling its own image and trying to make the wastewater treatment facility a place for recreation by painting large murals on the water treatment tanks in addition to the nature and bike trails which already cross the facility.

Alumni Roundtable Discussion: Volusia Blue Spring

Five NRLI alumni joined the Fellows for the "alumni roundtable discussion" in DeLand.  The session began with a brainstorming activity to identify key issues and themes that emerged (or were missing) from the stakeholder panel discussion. Alumni selected those themes that most resonated with them and to which they might contribute additional information. Fellows then met with different alumni in small groups to further these conversations.  Alumni in attendance included:
  • Margaret Guyette, SJRWMD, Class XVI
  • Clay Coarsey, SJRWMD, Class XIV
  • Katrina Locke, Environmental Management, Volusia County, Class XII
  • Ginger Adair, Environmental Management, Volusia County, Class IX
  • Carol Lippincott, UF Water Institute, Class VIII

Thanks to Margaret, Clay, Katrina, Ginger, and Carol for joining us and sharing their insights and perspectives with the Fellows.

Spotlight on Class XVII Fellows
Nia Morales
Human Dimensions Specialist
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Nia Morales is a human dimensions specialist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. She works primarily with freshwater fisheries, developing and implementing qualitative and quantitative studies aimed at better understanding Florida's anglers so we can better manage freshwater resources. She also aids other FWC divisions in developing and implementing their own human dimensions projects. She got her BS in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida, her M.ed. In Environmental Education from Florida Atlantic University, and her PhD in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, with a focus on human dimensions, from the University of Florida. While she didn't grow up immersed in the outdoors, Nia attributes her love of nature to early 90s Saturday morning shows like Jack Hanna's Animal Adventures and Captain Planet and strives to introduce diverse youth to natural resources through outreach and education. In her free time, she competes in the equestrian sport of dressage and enjoys spending time with her husband Carlos (which currently involves many hours building a barn so she can keep her horse at home!).
Ed Camp
Assistant Professor
Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences, School of Forest Resources & Conservation, University of Florida
Ed Camp is a father, a scientist, a fisherman and a person who enjoys analyses. He tries his best to view objectively the world and especially conflict-ridden natural resource issues. More importantly, he believes in quickly recognizing when, despite his best efforts, his judgments are wrong, biased, or both. Ed tries to balance his quest for objectivity with optimism, though he sometimes finds this a struggle. He wants to believe that outcomes of challenging conflicts can be improved through careful work-whether that work occurs in front of a computer or between people. Professionally, Ed works as an assistant professor of Fisheries and Aquaculture Governance in the Program of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences at the University of Florida. He most often uses models-quantitative and statistical representations of the world-to understand more completely what is likely or unlikely to happen if a management action is implemented. In the past, most of the management actions that Ed looked at were things like building artificial reefs, or limiting harvest of threatened species. In the future, Ed hopes to consider different types of management actions too-things like better funding for stakeholder groups, more concrete ways to incorporate end-user opinions in governance decisions, or more direct communication between stakeholders. When Ed is not working, and sometimes even when he is working, he spends his time with his family or fishing. His favorite people are his wife and daughter, and his favorite fish is the redfish, though he is also partial to brook trout.

Rebecca Elliott
Environmental Manager
Office of Agricultural Water Policy, Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Rebecca Elliott is an Environmental Manager with the Office of Agricultural Water Policy (OAWP) covering south Florida water resource programs, operations and issues for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). The waters of Florida have been a major interest recreationally, academically, and professionally since her family's mid-1960s arrival from the mountains of Georgia to settle in Stuart, FL. After graduating from Florida State University with a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, Rebecca started her natural resource career as a field technician for a full service environmental laboratory and advanced along with the growing environmental science field to Director of Operations and Analytical Department Manager at both McGinnes Environmental Laboratories and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute's Environmental Laboratory Division.
Rebecca joined FDACS' OAWP in West Palm Beach after taking a break to travel the USA and cruise the Caribbean for a couple of years with a backpack full of binoculars and bird books. She now serves as the FDACS liaison and regional contact for water resource related policy issues, restoration projects, programs, rule development, Central and Southern Florida System operations, South Florida Water Management water supply plans, and the Central Florida Water Initiative. Her work entails working with a wide range of efforts and a wide range of stakeholders. Stuart is still home for Rebecca where she never tires of exploring the natural areas, beaches and waters of the Treasure Coast.  
Giving to NRLI: The Farm Credit of Florida Agricultural and Natural Resources Leadership Endowment

Would you like to support NRLI? Did you know that NRLI has three endowment funds--the Bruce Delaney Scholarship Fund, the General Joe Joyce Family Endowment for Natural Resources Leadership, and the Farm Credit of Florida Agricultural and Natural Resources Leadership Endowment that you can contribute to?
This month, we are spotlighting the Farm Credit of Florida Agricultural and Natural Resources Leadership Endowment.

The Farm Credit of Florida Agricultural and Natural Resources Leadership Endowment was made possible through a generous donation by Farm Credit of Florida and will be used to support scholarships for young farmers (35 years old or younger) participating in the UF/IFAS Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute. Those working in Florida agricultural are an important constituency for the NRLI program and NRLI is proud to have a role in training future leaders of the Agricultural community. The average age for a fulltime farmer in the United States is almost 60 years old and young farmers pursuing full- and part-time farming are crucial to the future of the agricultural sector in the State of Florida.

If you would like to contribute to the Farm Credit of Florida Agricultural and Natural Resources Leadership Endowment, please go to