Class XVIII Fellows gathered for their first session in Cedar Key, August 22-24, 2018.
Welcome to NRLI Class XVIII!
Please allow me to extend a warm welcome to NRLI Class XVIII! As you will see below, this year's class boasts 24 impressive Fellows representing an array of state and federal agencies, non-profits, agriculture and land-management operations, secondary schools, and the University of Florida (research and Extension). Members of Class XVIII will get to know each other well over the course of the next 8 months; they will also get to know the state of Florida (see schedule of venues below). We began by introducing them to Cedar Key, an enchanting gulf-side town, rich in history, natural resources, and talented NRLI alumni. Cedar Key is one of those places that sneaks up on you and engages all your senses; it is difficult not to feel enchanted, even if you cannot pinpoint exactly how or why. Maybe it is the clams or the pungent smell of low tide. Perhaps it is the disorienting geography that makes south seem north and east seem west. Regardless, tiny and charming Cedar Key can teach us a great deal that is of relevance to our large and diverse state. How do we bounce back from the bust end of boom cycles? How do we help communities recognize and prepare for looming threats like sea level rise? How do we look at a city and "treat the whole patient, not just the parts?"*. Cedar Key is a resilient community; it has embraced culture, economics, and natural resources as inseparable parts of a single system. It has maintained its character while welcoming visitors and outside help. Cedar Key does not lack for ups and downs or for competing interests and opinions, but it somehow remains, well, Cedar Key, ever adapting. As Class XVIII Fellows traverse the state from Miami to Destin, they will examine contentious natural resource issues and learn collaborative leadership and conflict management tools and skills. Florida--a state that does not lack for charm, for ups and downs, for competing interests and opinions--will engage their senses in all sorts of new ways. So welcome to NRLI Class XVIII! We think that you'll enjoy learning about the whole patient that is Florida.
*Sue Colson, NRLI alumna, Nurse Practitioner, and Vice-Mayor, City of Cedar Key.
Coastal Erosion & Community Resilience
Cedar Key, August 22-24, 2018
Class XVIII gathered for their first session in Cedar Key August 22-24. The Fellows participated in activities to get to know each other, discussed expectations, and explored the NRLI concept of leadership in natural resource management.
The issue focus was coastal erosion and community resilience. The Fellows were welcomed to Cedar Key by Mayor Heath Davis who provided insights into the history of the Cedar Key community. For the field trip, the Fellows went on a boat tour t
o Atsena Otie Island with Leslie Sturmer (Shellfish Aquaculture Specialist, Cedar Key Marine Field Station, UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant; NRLI Alumna, Class V) and learned about reef strucuture restoration projects as well as the clam and oyster aquaculture industries. Savanna Barry (Regional Specialized Agent - Coastal Ecosystems, UF/IFAS Extension - Florida Sea Grant, UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station; NRLI Alumna, Class XVI) led the group on a golf cart tour to explore coastal erosion issues in Cedar Key and learn about the Daughtry Bayou Living Shorelines Project and associated stakeholder visioning workshops.
Stakeholders who joined the group to share their perspectives on coastal erosion and community reslience were:
- Sue Colson, Vice-Mayor, City of Cedar Key; Vice-Chair, Cedar Key Commission, NRLI Alumna, Class XV;
- Mandy Offerle, Secretary & Treasurer, Cedar Key News;
- Beth Mizell, Cedar Key Resident & Property Owner;
- Phil Parker, Cedar Key Resident & Property Owner; and
- Mark Clark, Associate Professor and Extension Specialist - Wetlands and Water Quality, Soil and Water Sciences Department, University of Florida/IFAS.
|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 Hannah Brown and Brian Scheick.
Dipping Our Toes into Coastal Erosion Issues, NRLI Style
By Hannah O. Brown and Brian K. Scheick
On our first day of NRLI's Class XVIII, 24 strangers sat down together for lunch with a feeling that something hugely impactful was about to happen. Representing corporate and private resource industries, federal and state agencies, and non-governmental organizations, each of us was selected to ensure a breadth of viewpoints from across the state as we learned conflict resolution methods. Improving communication among the diverse stakeholders of contentious natural resource issues facing Florida has always been important but given today's political and environmental climate, the level of importance seems to be increasing every day.
Starting with a communal meal was an effective yet informal way to let classmates meet before the program began. We then engaged in activities designed to teach us personal details about one another, including establishing a set of group norms. A surprising debate opened over phone etiquette. While some felt glancing at phones was distracting, others wanted to check the time or important messages from work. We thoroughly debated this first issue and learned more about each other in the process. The truth was that there really wasn't time or extra energy to engage with outside activities. Session 1 demanded our complete attention.
This session was about coastal erosion and community resilience; Cedar Key was a great example of both issues. The mayor shared an interesting history lesson of the area and explained how their tight-knit community is inspired to embrace new people and prepare for the future. We learned about 200 years of boom-bust economies culminating in the establishment of a clam and oyster industry after gill-nets were banned by a constitutional amendment. We also learned that portions of Daughtry Bayou had been suffering coastal erosion over several decades that had pushed sand along G Street, washing away public beaches and blocking a canal used by clammers. The change in canal flow altered the water quality and disrupted a clam spawning business that was important to this locally economy. To make matters worse, wave damage from Hurricane Irma caused damage to the only road to their airport.
We could see the fruits of 18 years of NRLI collaborations between diverse people over natural resource issues. One such fruit was a glossy magazine called "Cedar Key Everlasting" that describes the history of Cedar Key and the amazing transformation of this coastal community into a major clam producer. The magazine was organized by NRLI alumni Leslie Sturmer and Sue Colson, with input from other local figures, to increase appreciation for working waterfronts by tourists who visit the area. Because the clam industry relies on clean coastal water, it meshes very well when the main tourist attraction is enjoying nature in a small coastal town.
Another example was the stakeholder engagement process recently spearheaded by NRLI alumna Savanna Barry (begun as her practicum) to plan a shoreline stabilization project in Cedar Key. The process involved multiple meetings where experts explained potential options to local residents and stakeholders, who could then share their views and desires. Eventually, they decided to manage the erosion using a "living shoreline," which has many benefits over more traditional, hard shoreline defenses such as rocks (riprap). A previous proposal for this area had been provided by the DEP with no local input but was rejected. We learned that vocal, active residents can push a project forward, but they can also fight "solutions" provided by outside experts who don't share their values.
Over three days, lessons of stakeholder engagement and facilitation were subtly sprinkled between the session's issues. We didn't just talk about the issues, we filed into boats and golf carts to see the areas and the issues with wet feet. We learned how the methods of stakeholder engagement taught at NRLI have served as a catalyst in one small Florida community. After just one session, we can already imagine the impact of NRLI scaled to the massive size of Florida. Though we may lead different lives in different regions of the state, we all seem to share the desire and hope that people who are willing to come out of their entrenched defenses to fully and openly discuss a contentious issue can reach a workable consensus. With seven more sessions to go, we return to our NRLI training in late September with eyes forward. This time we'll be in Immokalee to learn about the future of the Florida panther.
Class XVIII Fellows
County Extension Director; Extension Agent IV-Family, Youth, and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension
Harvest Operations, TKM Bengard Farms LLC
Environmental Administrator, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Agricultural Water Policy
Research Assistant Professor, Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, Everglades Research and Education Center, University of Florida/IFAS
Communications Manager, PhD Student, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Florida
Amy Copeland, South Region Land Manager
, St. Johns River Water Management District
Environmental Consultant, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Agricultural Water Policy
Assistant Director, Conservation Florida
Biologist-Planning Technical Lead, Coastal Navigation Section, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District
Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Forest Service
Captain, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Senior Wildlife Assistance Biologist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Land Management Program Manager, Suwannee River Water Management District
Deputy Director, Division of Water Resource Management, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Fish and Wildlife Biologist, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Ashley Pardee, Assistant, Wetland Preserve LLC
Associate Director of Marketing, Florida Farm Bureau Federation
Assistant Research Scientist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Associate Director, Colorado River Delta Program, Sonoran Institute
Public Hunting Areas Biologist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Environmental Specialist III, Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Office of Agricultural Water Policy
Wildlife Refuge Specialist, Southwest Florida Gulf Coast Refuge Complex, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lily Swanbrow Becker, Climate
Adaptation Coordinator, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Erica Waller, Environmental Educator
Class XVIII Schedule
|August 22-24, 2018
||Coastal Erosion & Community Resilience
|September 26-28, 2018
||Endangered Species: The Future of the Florida Panther
|October 17-19, 2018
||Fisheries Management: Red Snapper
|November 14-16, 2018
||Sea Level Rise: Threats to & Solutions for Urban Areas
|January 23-25, 2019
||Changing Dynamics in Agriculture & Rural Communities
|February 20-22, 2019
||Water Quality: Springs & Agriculture
|March 20-22, 2019
April 10-12, 2019
|Graduation & Practicum Presentations
Spotlight on Class XVIII Fellows
Fish and Wildlife Biologist
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Lourdes Mena is a fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (Service) Ecological Services Program at the North Florida Field Office. As part of her current job responsibilities, she is the at-risk species coordinator in Florida and the species lead for the gopher tortoise in the candidate range. Lourdes is also involved in writing species status assessments and is part of species assessment teams when the Service is evaluating a species for listing under the Endangered Species Act or when informing recovery plans for listed species. In addition, Lourdes is the Section 6 coordinator and point of contact for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In this position, she coordinates and processes grants offered to the state agencies for work and research that contributes to the recovery of listed species and conservation of at-risk species in Florida.
Lourdes earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a master's degree in Marine Environmental Science from the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University, New York. Lourdes enjoys working in complex projects where the expertise of everyone in a team can be used to achieve goals more successfully.
Lourdes lives in Fleming Island, Florida with her husband and two cats. In her free time she enjoys playing pickle ball, paddle boarding, spending time with the extended family (just family to her), traveling to Puerto Rico, reading, and gardening.
TKM Bengard Farms LLC
Ethan Basore is a fourth-generation family farmer. His passion for farming originated as a child. Ethan's family began farming over 60 years ago. The Basore family business is currently one of the largest producers of lettuce during the winter months in Florida. Ethan operates part of the harvest operations for TKM-Bengard Farms. He not only loves his job but also finds time to be part of his community.
As a positive leader of his generation, Ethan has invested his time not only on the farm but also in tomorrows leaders. He graduated from Florida Farm Bureau Youth Farmers & Ranchers in 2016 and The Leadership of Palm Beach County "Class of 2018", just to name a few. Ethan is also a board member for Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.
Environmental Scientist III
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Stacey has a B.S. in Biology from the University of Central Florida. She has 15 years experience working as a Plant Inspector for FDACS Division of Plant Industry. She is familiar with Florida's native and commercially grown plants, invasive species identification, monitoring, and control measures for eradication. She assisted with plant pest detection/early detection and rapid response programs and participated in eradication programs throughout Florida to combat Medfly, Guava Fruit Fly, Oriental Fruit Fly, Citrus Canker, and Giant African Land Snail.
Stacey has 4 years experience working as an Environmental Supervisor I-SES in the Division of Plant Industry where she was responsible for planning, assigning, supervising, and directing the activities of 7 Environmental Specialists and 3 Agriculture and consumer Protection Specialists in the protection, certification, and regulation of all native and cultivated flora within the State of Florida.
Stacey also has 1+ years experience as an Environmental Specialist III in the Office of Agricultural Water Policy assisting agriculture producers with the FDACS Best Management Practices Program and FDACS cost-share funding awards.
When not working, Stacey enjoys traveling, all things horticulture-related, and attending live music events. Stacey was born in Louisville, raised in New England, and ultimately landed in Florida in the 80s. She is grateful to live in paradise!
Lily Swanbrow Becker
Climate Adaptation Coordinator
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Lily joined the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as the Climate Adaptation Coordinator in December 2016. She enjoys her role of working with staff and a broad network of conservation partners in supporting climate research, communication, planning, and on-the-ground adaptation projects. Prior to joining Florida Fish and Wildlife, Lily worked in curriculum development at Florida State University where she developed educational texts, lesson plans and interactive tutorials focused on topics covering conservation ecology and climate change. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Environmental Science in 2005 and received her Master's in Conservation Biology from Texas State University in 2012. In her spare time, Lily mostly chases around two small children but also enjoys running and beach days.