2019 Conference Speakers

Featured Speakers

Tom Hoctor, PhD

Florida Regional Landscape Conservation: Obstacles and Opportunities


This talk will discuss both Florida regional landscape scale conservation analysis, planning, and implementation including opportunities and obstacles. This will include the FEGN, CLIP, the Florida Wildlife Corridor, the Air Force regional partnerships project SECAS, Florida Forever, Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, Rural Land Stewardship Program (Collier County), the Everglades Headwaters Refuge, NRCS easement programs, Sector Planning, proposed highways, climate change/sea level rise, and potential future development. That's a lot to cover but the talk will hit on these subjects quickly as part of a broad obstacles and opportunities discussion regarding landscape scale conservation.


Tom Hoctor is director of the Center for Landscape Conservation Planning at the University of Florida.  He has an undergraduate degree in History and Science at Harvard University and a Masters and Ph.D. in Conservation Biology and Landscape Ecology from the University of Florida.  Tom’s research interests include the application of landscape ecology and conservation biology to regional planning, wildlife corridor design, wildlife habitat modeling and policy, and GIS applications in conservation planning.  He has served as principal or co-principal investigator on many regional-scale conservation analysis and planning projects in Florida and the U.S. His current projects include the Florida Ecological Greenways Network, the Critical Lands and Waters Identification Project, the Identification of Florida Air Force Installation Conservation Priorities project, and working with the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Regional Landscape Conservation Design projects in Florida and the Gulf Coast.

Reed Noss, PhD

Why is Florida So Rich in Biodiversity?


Florida is the hottest spot within a newly recognized global biodiversity hotspot, the North American Coastal Plain. The incredible biological richness of this region went unrecognized for a long time due to several long-standing myths, for example the mistaken beliefs that the region is geologically young and climatically unstable and the idea that the relatively flat topography precluded development of a diverse flora and fauna. We now know that the Coastal Plain is surpassed only by the California Floristic Province as a center of endemism (number of small-range species) in North America north of Mexico. Florida has the highest concentration of endemic plants in the eastern U.S. and the largest number of ancient plant lineages in all of North America, which suggests a long history. Besides relative climatic stability, which characterizes all global biodiversity hotspots, the Coastal Plain (especially Florida) has been enriched by sea-level fluctuations, which produce opportunities for speciation in isolated populations. Furthermore, several regions, including the Appalachians, West Indies, and western U.S. and Mexico, have contributed species to Florida and the Coastal Plain over time. Finally, the high frequency of fire and other natural disturbances allows many species to coexist by reducing competition.


Reed Noss is a writer, photographer, lecturer, and consultant in natural history, ecology, and conservation and serves as Chief Science Advisor for the Southeastern Grasslands Initiative and the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance. He was formerly Provost’s Distinguished Research Professor of Biology at the University of Central Florida. He received a B.S. in education from the University of Dayton, an M.S. in ecology from the University of Tennessee, and a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology from the University of Florida. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Conservation Biology, Science Editor for Wild Earth magazine, and President of the Society for Conservation Biology. He is an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His recent research topics include disturbance ecology; road ecology; ecosystem conservation and restoration; and vulnerability of species and ecosystems to sea-level rise. He has more than 300 publications, including eight books. His most recently published books are Forgotten Grasslands of the South: Natural History and Conservation (Island Press, 2013) and Fire Ecology of Florida and the Southeastern Coastal Plain (University Press of Florida, 2018). He is currently working on a book on the endangered ecosystems of North America.

Eric Draper

People Make the Parks, Plants Make the Parks Special

From the dry prairie of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, to the orchid-rich swamp of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve and the sandhills of Wekiwa Springs, Florida State Parks are home to the finest examples of Florida’s native plant communities. State parks are a place where we can see, experience and understand natural systems. The growth of invasive exotic species, difficulty of implementing natural fire regimes and the intensity of storms and droughts present new challenges to the people who manage of our most-prized public lands. The need for land management funds and training a new generation of land managers are major priorities as state parks celebrate 85 years and plan for the next 15 years.  As pressure on Florida’s environment builds, Florida State Parks are increasingly in need of friends to help show why protecting native plants and animals is important the Florida Park Service’s mission. Eric Draper will speak about how Florida State Parks are adapting to change and engaging new conservation leaders, and how the Florida Native Plant Society and other groups are critical partners in conserving and managing Florida’s best habitats.


Eric Draper is the director of the Florida Park Service. He is a career conservationist and is recognized as an accomplished advocate for Everglades restoration, water resource protection and land conservation. Previously, he was president of the Florida Audubon Society, National Audubon’s senior vice president for policy, staff director for the Florida House of Representatives Majority Office, and TNC’s Florida government relations director.

Jack Putz, PhD

Rising Seas, Retreating Forests, and other Rapid Changes in Coastal Ecosystems

Rapid ecological changes are underway along the Gulf of Mexico’s Big Bend region in Florida, the least developed coastline in the lower 48 states. Especially where coastal ecosystems sit on limestone platforms, aquifer water removals are minor, and tidal fluxes are small, the signal-to-noise ratio is excellent for detecting the effects of global climate change and sea level rise. Perhaps the very best place in the world to see these effects is in Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve (map) and along the last mile of State Road 40 to the Gulf. Most arresting are the extensive areas of dead and dying forest that is transitioning into salt marsh north of the road. If you walk through that salt marsh (which is encouraged), you may trip over a tree stump, evidence that this forest-to-marsh conversion process has been underway for some time. Historical air photos reveal the same transformation. Closer inspection of the standing islands of coastal forest in the sea of salt marsh will divulge their incipient takeover by Brazilian pepper. South of the road where the salt is washed away by Withlacoochee River floodwaters, you’ll see the species that salt killed. Finally, right along the coast, it’s easy to see that in the absence of hard freezes, salt marsh is turning into mangrove forest. These ecological changes require adaptation and some deserve mitigation. We are collectively challenged to understand what is happening, to communicate effectively about these changes and their causes, and to promote appropriate action.


Francis E. “Jack” Putz is professor of biology and forestry at the University of Florida. His main research focuses on the use of market-based incentives, like forest product certification and carbon offsets, to promote conservation through sustainable use of tropical forests and other ecosystems. His work on sea level rise in Florida started with a telephone call in the early 1990s about dying trees on the property that is now the Withlacoochee Gulf Preserve in Yankeetown. He’s published hundreds of research papers on ecology, forestry, and restoration, but is also the author of a book of Florida-based natural history essays entitled Finding Home in the Sandy Lands of the South and, as Juan Camilo Moro, a steamy jungle novel based in Southeast Asia entitled Borneo Dammed: A very Family Affair.

Friday Speakers   (day subject to change)

Jacqui Sulek

Plants for Birds


The Audubon Plants for Birds program is based on Doug Tallamy’s approach to landscaping.  The foundation of an ecosystem is the soil.  The plants have evolved with the soil and the insects with the plants.  95% of birds need protein in the form of insects to raise their young.  In fact a pair of Carolina Chickadees will gather somewhere around 9000 caterpillars to raise one brood.  So while people think of berries and seeds as bird food native plants and  insects are a critical component for attracting birds.  If there are no native plants, no bugs and no bugs, no birds!   This session will focus on how to make your yard bird friendly and use resources such as the Audubon Plants for Birds program.


Jacqui has had a lifelong love for nature. Growing up in Venezuela it was orchids.  After completing her Fine Arts and Education degree at Middlebury College she changed her focus to plants and began taking classes at the University of Vermont.  She spent 3 years as a Ranger-Naturalist on the top of Vermont’s highest mountain protecting the rare Arctic-Alpine Tundra and illustrated a guide to the mountaintop community. After a decade on the high seas she settled in Ft. Lauderdale where she completed a Landscape Design Degree at Broward Community College.  She has been gardening for birds and butterflies since the 1980’s. Jacqui now lives in Ft. White, FL and her ½ acre yard is 99% Florida Native Plants. Jacqui has been working during the last 13 years for Audubon Florida as the go to person for Florida’s 45 chapters. In her role she promotes the National Audubon Plants for Birds Program.

Robert Knight, PhD

Florida’s Springs and Aquifer Sustainability

Florida’s expanding population and extractive industries are withdrawing more than 3 billion gallons each day from the Floridan Aquifer. Out of a total average annual budget of only 10.5 billion gallons per day that formerly nourished Florida’s 1,000+ artesian springs, this groundwater extraction has lowered spring flows statewide more than 32%. The 70+ springs of Kings Bay/Crystal River have been seriously impacted by this changing water balance. Existing evidence indicates that spring flow declines feeding the Crystal River have declined by over 50%. The salinity and ecology of Kings Bay has been significantly altered by these flow changes. Kings Bay restoration will not be possible unless groundwater uses are greatly reduced.


Dr. Knight is an environmental scientist/systems ecologist. He has over 38 years of experience as an aquatic and wetland ecologist in Florida. His doctoral work included an ecological assessment of Silver Springs and Silver River under the direction of Howard T. Odum. He completed assessments of the quantitative basis for establishing a minimum flow regime for protection of water and human-use resource values (WRVs) in Volusia County Blue Spring, a 50-year retrospective study of the ecological health of Silver Springs, the basis for establishing pollutant load reduction goals and WRVs for the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run, and a comparison of the ecology of twelve of Florida’s artesian springs.

Sky Notestein

Springs Restoration


Sky Notestein is the Springs and Environmental Flows Section manager who joined the Southwest Florida Water Management District in September 2014.

Notestein has more than 15 years of work experience in the academic and private consulting sectors studying the ecology of aquatic ecosystems. Notestein’s role on the Springs Team is to manage restoration projects, work with other agencies on springs issues and educate the public about the District’s ongoing efforts to restore the springs. 

His work experience includes roles as a research and program coordinator while at the University of Florida (UF), being a regional volunteer coordinator with Florida Lakewatch, and leading multiple springs projects as a consulting environmental scientist.

Susan Carr, PhD

Panel Discussion: Working with local land trusts to identify and protect critical native plant habitat


Susan is a native of Gainesville Florida, where her interest in the natural world began as a child exploring the wild lands of Alachua County. After receiving a B.S. in Botany from the University of Florida, Susan worked as an ecologist before returning to graduate school to earn a master’s degree in plant biology from Louisiana State University. ; After returning to Florida, Susan obtained a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and conservation from the University of Florida. Her Ph.D. research centered on the ecology and diversity of fire-maintained pinelands in Florida, and it was from this work that she developed an appreciation for Florida’s wildlands and an avid interest in land conservation.

Marc Hudson

Panel Discussion: Working with local land trusts to identify and protect critical native plant habitat


Marc is the Land Protection Director of the North Florida Land Trust. He is responsible for overseeing the land trust’s real estate acquisitions, restoration, programmatic partnerships, and geographic information systems (GIS). He also developed and leads the strategic conservation planning services. Prior to his work with NFLT, Marc worked for five years in partnership with the Georgia Land Trust, Alabama Land Trust, and the Chattahoochee Valley Land Trust. He also facilitated farmland preservation for the Genesee Valley Conservancy in upstate New York. Marc earned his Bachelor’s degree in history with a special focus on environmental history from the State University of New York at Geneseo. Marc was a 2016 Kinship Conservation Fellow and a 2017 featured speaker for TEDxJacksonville.

Willy The Losen

Panel Discussion: Working with local land trusts to identify and protect critical native plant habitat


Willy the Losen is the Conservation Director for the Putnam Land Conservancy (PLC).  Willy has a lifelong interest in land conservation and is passionate about its importance to a healthy planet and all its inhabitants including humans.  Under Willy’s guidance PLC has developed a niche in preserving small parcels of land.   PLC focuses on acquiring properties in undeveloped and sparsely subdivisions that have rare species and intact native plant communities.  One such project PLC is working on is a partnership with the Florida Native Plant Society to conserve the largest population of the endangered plant Warea amplexifolia in a sparsely developed subdivision south of Ocala (related FNPS blog post).


Ivor Kincaide

Panel Discussion: Working with local landtrusts to identify and protect critical native plant habitats


Ivor Kincaide, a lifelong birder and tree hugger, received his Bachelor's of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Florida. Most of his postgraduate life has been devoted to natural resource and wildlife management. Ivor is a State Certified Prescribed Burn Manager with a keen interest in freshwater marsh and pineland restoration and directs land acquisition and natural resource management activities for the organization.

Juliet Rynear

FNPS work to save Florida's imperiled plant species; FNPS Guidance on seed collection, plant rescue and restoration

Juliet Rynear is the Executive Director of the Florida Native Plant Society and served as the Conservation Committee Chair for the Society 6 years.  Juliet’s work has focused on the conservation of the genetic diversity of Florida’s native plants and the restoration of native plant populations and plant communities.  She has extensive experience managing projects that include propagation protocol development, population introductions, habitat restoration, habitat monitoring, and post-project monitoring designed to inform ongoing management.  She received a Master of Applied Science in Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management from the University of Denver and earned a Certificate in Applied Plant Conservation from the Center for Plant Conservation.  Juliet has enjoyed a lifelong love of plants and seeks to inspire others to experience the transformative power of our natural world.

Sammy Tedder

Where Ethnobotany and Ethnomusicology Meet


This presentation is both informative and entertaining using a slide show and musical performances on various instruments made from native plants. Basic musicology terms for classifying musical instruments world wide will be defined and the local native plants used in making instruments from three of the musical instrument classifications: Aerophones, Idiophones and Membranophones will be identified. Mr. Tedder will perform songs from his nature film soundtracks to demonstrate these instruments such as the flute (aerophone) made from river cane, Arundinaria gigantea, the coconut shell rattle (idiophone) which contains seeds from the Canna flaccida plant, drums (membranophone) made from local trees such as swamp tupelo and bald cypress and the Australian didgeridoo (aerophone) made from the pokeweed plant. He will also show examples of other plant based utilitarian items such as river cane baskets and rivercane blow guns with darts fletched with thistle down which have been used by native cultures of the Southeast for centuries.


Sammy Tedder is a musician, composer, filmmaker, and Florida nature sound recordist who has composed film soundtracks and provided ambient nature sounds for several nature documentaries that have aired nationally and regionally on PBS. The saxophone is his principal instrument but for several years he has been making flutes, rattles and drums from native plants and trees which, along with his nature sound recordings add an organic signature to his soundtrack compositions. Sammy is a member of the Sarracenia Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society in Wakulla County and enjoys sharing his knowledge of how native plants have been used by indigenous cultures of the Southeast. He has written articles about these instruments for the Palmetto, the Sabal Minor and the Trumpet publications.
River cane article published in Sabal Minor.
Canna lily article published in the Trumpet.

Tom Kay

Panel Discussion: Working with local land trusts to identify and protect critical native plant habitat


Tom Kay was named the Executive Director of Alachua Conservation Trust in June of 2013. For 30 years, Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) has worked to protect the natural, historic, scenic and recreational resources in 16 counties of north central Florida. ACT protects land through purchase, donation, and conservation easements.He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Environmental Policy & Behavior from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment and a Juris Doctor from Florida State University’s College of Law.  Tom has worked as a staff attorney for a large not-for-profit health care organization and a public housing authority. For seven years, he worked as a litigator in civil, criminal, and real estate matters. He has volunteered on local and national political campaigns and interned in U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s Tallahassee office during law school. Tom and his wife live on a farm in McIntosh.   He currently serves as the President of the Alliance of Florida Land Trusts, the umbrella organization for state’s 22 land trusts.  He serves on the Executive Committee as the Treasurer of the Partnership for Gulf Coast Land Conservation, a coalition of local, regional, state and national land conservation organizations.  Tom chaired the Wild Spaces and Public Places ballot initiative in Alachua County that successfully passed by over 60%.  This local half cent sales tax over 8 years is expected to generate over $130 million for the acquisition of new conservation lands and upgrades at recreational parks and facilities throughout Alachua County and its 10 cities. When he is not serving on multiple boards, Tom is an avid kayaker, runner and adventure seeker.

Steve Turnipseed

Native Landscaping in an HOA

See before and after examples of multiple residential landscapes inside a large master planned community, The Villages, that have been converted from turf dominated yards to native plant landscapes.  The presentation will share both successes and lessons learned from this Central Florida development. Guidance will be provided on how to create attractive landscapes that fit into neighbors that put aesthetics first.  Example landscape designs and plant lists will be covered.


A Chemical Engineer by degree, Steve Turnipseed is retired from a 32-year international career with Chevron. Steve provides passionate, strategic leadership for The Villages Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) and as an advocate for native plant landscaping.

Steve has personally converted his turfgrass lawn into a Florida Friendly Landscape using over 100 species of native plants. Steve’s landscape has been recognized with multiple awards from the Florida Native Plant Society and was featured in an episode of Flip Your Florida Yard, a new reality television series from Crawford Entertainment that uses landscape transformation projects to encourage water conservation and other Florida-Friendly landscaping™ benefits.

Steve has also directly assisted over 20 other residents of The Villages in successfully converting their yards to Florida Friendly landscaping using all or mostly native plants, assisting in design consultation, plant selection, navigating the approval processes and planning for maintenance that meets community standards.

Steve regularly teaches workshops and consults with managed community residents to help them achieve aesthetic requirements while incorporating more native plants.

He has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mississippi.

Florida Water Star™ Accredited Professional Certified UF/IFAS Master Gardener

Valerie Anderson

Panel Discussion: Conservation and Roads: Finding a Direction Best Traveled

The panel will discuss how citizens, planners, and conservation organizations like FNPS can partner more effectively with the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure that future transportation development achieves the proper balance between protection of natural resources, quality of life for the people of Florida, and economic development.

Valerie Anderson is the Director of Communications and Programming for the Florida Native Plant Society and the Policy and Legislation Committee Chair for the Pine Lily Chapter of FNPS. She got her undergrad from the University of Florida in Horticultural Science and her M.S. from the University of Southern California in Geographic Information Science. She is in the process of preventing a toll road from impacting Split Oak Forest WEA in Orange and Osceola Counties. She loves to bike, swim, and row. She also enjoys fiddling about in her mostly native yard.

Charles Lee

Panel Discussion: Conservation and Roads: Finding a Direction Best Traveled

The panel will discuss how citizens, planners, and conservation organizations like FNPS can partner more effectively with the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure that future transportation development achieves the proper balance between protection of natural resources, quality of life for the people of Florida, and economic development.


Charles Lee has been employed for 47 years by the Florida Audubon Society & Audubon Florida. He is accomplished in the management of environmentally-oriented non-profit organizations. He is well-known by political figures, government officials, and business leaders throughout Florida.

Eugene Kelly

Panel Discussion: Conservation and Roads: Finding a Direction Best Traveled

The panel will discuss how citizens, planners, and conservation organizations like FNPS can partner more effectively with the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure that future transportation development achieves the proper balance between protection of natural resources, quality of life for the people of Florida, and economic development.


Gene is a Conservation Biologist with a long history of working to conserve natural Florida. As the Environmental Lands Planner for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, he helped identify lands to be protected through the Save Our Rivers, Preservation 2000 and Florida Forever land acquisition programs, and also played the lead role in writing land management and public use plans for the acquired properties.  After 16 years at SWFWMD, he spent 5 years serving as the Conservation Planner for the Florida Chapter of The Nature Conservancy before working for several years as a Wildlife Biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He is currently self-employed working as a conservation biologist and environmental consultant. Gene has also been actively involved with the Florida Native Plant Society’s Board of Directors, where he has served terms as President and Conservation Chair, and is serving currently as the Policy and Legislation Chair.

Kelly Thomas

Biology and Ecology of the Florida-endangered Ashe Magnolia, Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei

Ashe magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei (Weath.) D.L.Johnson) is a deciduous, multi-stemmed tree growing to a height of 12 m in the understory of broadleaved or mixed forest. This endangered tree is endemic in Florida, USA, where it is restricted to ravine slopes and bluffs in five counties. Scientists are conducting research to investigate pollinators, fecundity, seed predation, seed dispersal, plant injury, insect pests and diseases of Ashe Magnolia and the possible negative population pressures of these factors in N. Florida. Impacts associated with these risk factors are being quantified using passive insect traps, programmable digital photography, disease diagnostics and seed harvest and viability assessment. An overview of these research projects and data collected on Ashe Magnolia will be presented.”


Kelly Thomas is an Agricultural/Food Scientist II working with Dr. Gary Knox at the University of Florida/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy, FL. She works alongside Dr. Gary Knox and the volunteer group, Gardening Friends of the Big Bend, on various environmental horticultural extension and research projects in support of Florida’s nursery/landscape industry and the botanical garden, Gardens of the Big Bend, located on the grounds of the research center. She is currently getting her master’s degree in Agroecology from the University of Florida and is set to graduate in 2020.

Kelly’s background includes 3 years as Horticulture Program Assistant at the Leon County Extension Office in Tallahassee, Fl and 1.5 years as Sales, Marketing, and Volunteer Manager at a Certified Organic farm, Orchard Pond Organics, in Tallahassee, FL. Before moving to Tallahassee, she worked as a Seeds of Success intern with the Conservation and Land Management Internship Program (CLM) based in Buffalo, Wyoming at the Bureau of Land Management Buffalo Field Office.

Kelly’s passions and research interests include sustainable food production, sustainable living and landscaping practices, land conservation, ecology, and knowledge and preservation of rare, unusual, or endangered plants and plant communities.

Grace Howell

Land Management Partners Committee Presentation

The Florida Native Plant Society maintains a strong partnership with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection by representing our mission on Land Management Reviews for state lands as a local conservation organization and stakeholder. FNPS wishes to provide a constructive and knowledgeable presence on these reviews. Learn how you can participate in an LMR in your local area and give constructive commendations and recommendations regarding the management of your local public lands. These reviews are also great opportunities for local chapter members to learn more about their local public lands, meet local land managers and offer chapter collaboration and support with rare plant monitoring efforts and invasive species removal projects. In this session you can learn how to get involved and how to provide useful feedback and support for land managers as a representative of the Florida Native Plant Society.

Grace Howell is a North Florida native and lifelong nature lover.  She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Natural Resource Conservation and worked in the City of Gainesville’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs for 9 years, first as an environmental educator at Morningside Nature Center and then as a land manager and biologist in all of the city’s nature parks. 
She now works for the Alachua Conservation Trust as a land management specialist, carrying out restoration and natural resource management goals on ACT’s conservation properties and teaching land stewardship skills to young professionals through the Women in the Woods internship program. 
She is a native plant enthusiast, amateur botanist, fire ecology advocate, and Certified Prescribed Burn Manager. Much of her free time is spent exploring, botanizing and delighting in Florida’s natural areas. 

Wendy Wilber

Florida native trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers.

Top down education to engage Florida Master Gardener Volunteers in sustainable landscaping.

Florida Master Gardener Volunteers are volunteers with University of Florida IFAS Extension.  There are 4000 MGVs active in 60 counties in Florida that provide landscaping and gardening advice to Florida residents. Native plant education is a portion of their training.  This program will explain Master Gardener Volunteer native plant education and how they use their training.


Wendy has been with the University of Florida since 2000 when she became an environmental horticulture agent and Master Gardener Volunteer program coordinator for UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County.

In 2015, she took over as Florida's State Master Gardener Volunteer Program Coordinator. In this role, she will coordinate 4,000 volunteers and serve as a resource for many on plant and landscape issues.

Wendy grew up on a tropical fruit farm in Miami Dade County, and before coming to the University, worked in the landscape industry.  She is a graduate of Stetson University in DeLand, and received her master's degree in horticultural sciences at the University of Florida.


Laura Reynolds

Southeast Florida Chapters Initiative for Community and Policy Advocacy

The Southeast regional chapters of the Florida Native Plant Society are collectively taking the lead to help restore full historic funding to the Florida Forever Program. This land acquisition program offers critical services to its citizens, including flood protection, aquifer recharge and water quality improvements. This services will only become more valuable as our freshwater resources come under greater pressure from increased population, the developmental sprawl which accompanies it, and the threats posed by climate change.
We must work collaboratively to ensure proper funding is made available permanently in the upcoming years, which can only be done with the support of our Florida legislature.


Laura strives to integrate her solid scientific background with environmental policy and savvy negotiation skills in order to protect and restore Florida's environment. She serves as an instrumental guide to help bridge the gap between science and policy in our state. 
Laura has a wealth of experience in the environmental field going back over 20 years as the former Executive Director at Tropical Audubon Society, and a former Research Assistant and Adjunct Professor at Florida International University. Ms. Reynolds graduated from Jacksonville University with a major in Marine Biology and Environmental Science and worked toward a masters at Florida International University, until she switched gears from academia to work to bridge the gap between science and policy in 2007. Some of her areas of expertise are in environmental conservation, resource management, grant writing, leadership and the organization and implementation of successful environmental campaigns at both the community and governmental levels.  She runs a small firm, Conservation Concepts that is designed to help non profits and community organisations increase their effectiveness at advocating for protection of the Environment in the State of Florida.

Chad Washburn

Stormwater management with native plants

Stormwater treatment at Naples Botanical Garden is designed and incorporated into the overall garden plan as a feature of the landscape.  The multi-award winning system incorporates native plants into a series of bio-swales, raingardens, ponds, and the Smith River of Grass (map), a tribute to the Everglades. Each stage of the system works to remove pollutants from runoff with the added benefit of providing valuable food and habitat for wildlife.  The entire storm water system uses appropriate native plants, creating an aesthetically pleasing landscape that provides a sense of place while performing vital ecological function. The plantings include a diversity of appropriate native species chosen for their year-round impact, function, and resistance to the challenges of south Florida’s seasonal wet and dry periods.  The system has become a model for incorporating native plants into functional design for communities across Collier County and provides an important learning opportunity for visitors to the Garden.


Chad Washburn is the Vice President of Conservation at Naples Botanical Garden.  In this role he leads the development of the Garden’s plant conservation programs in south Florida and across the Caribbean and Central American region.  His has been with the Garden in a leadership capacity from the early stages of development and planning through the completion of each phase of the Garden’s construction and restoration of the preserve areas.  As the previous Director of Education and Conservation he was responsible for the development and direction of the Garden’s education programs.

Chad received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology from Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana, and completed his Master’s Degree in Applied Ecology from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University in 2002. His graduate research resulted in the co-authorship of a book chapter entitled Latitudinal trends in organic carbon accumulation in temperate freshwater peatlands. Chad is the Past-President of the Naples Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society and a member of the Greenscape Alliance and Collier County Commercial Horticultural Advisory Team. Chad is a 2012 recipient of the Chanticleer Scholarship for professional development.

Research Track Papers and Posters


Diaz-Toribio, Milton H. Below-ground carbohydrate stores and resprouting potential: Reconciling concentrations with total contents.

Nowicki, ReNae S. Ecohydrology of sandhill wetlands of west-central Florida.

Siegle, Lexi. TBD.

Stokes, Keith, Dale Casamatta and Anthony M. Rossi. Assessing the phenotypic and genetic differences in the endangered endemic semaphore cactus, Consolea corallicola.

Verner-Crist, Megan. TBD.

Gabriel Eduardo Campbell, TBD

Greene, Tom.  Wet Prairies and Rare Plants of Point Washington State Forest - 7 Year Update.

Campbell, Gabriel Eduard, Miller, Debbie, Thetford, Mack, Verlinde, Christina, and Smith, Ashlynn.  Title:  Dune Restoration and Enhancement for the Florida Panhandle Manual


Forbrich, Victoria E.1, Arian Farid1, and Alan R. Franck2. Plants and fungi: University of South Florida’s contribution to the biota of Florida.

Michael Volk, Center for Landscape Conservation Planning, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Florida; Dr. Gail Hansen, Department of Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida; Belinda Nettles, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Florida.  An Initiative to Meet Climate Change Information Needs for the Landscape Industry in Florida

Campbell, Gabriel Eduard, Miller, Debbie, Thetford, Mack, Verlinde, Christina, and Smith, Ashlynn.  Title:  Dune Restoration and Enhancement for the Florida Panhandle Manual


Saturday Speakers  (day subject to change)

John Lampkin

Bugs in Your Bloomers

Insects and flowering plants have been co-evolving for 135 million years and as a result, both groups have flourished, becoming our most abundant flora and fauna. The relationships are more varied, complex and sophisticated than first meets the eye. So, what is that bug and what is it doing in that flower? Armed with macro lens and thinking cap, John Lampkin has been investigating that question and will share some surprising insights he has documented in this beautiful photographic presentation.


John Lampkin is an avid citizen naturalist and Nature photographer and was an active member of the Rockland County, New York Audubon Society for many years. Now retired from a music career he is busy exploring and marveling at the Floridian universe with camera in hand. Coincidentally, as a professional composer his woodwind quintet, "Insects: A Musical Entomology in Six Legs" won the Grand Prize in the 2001 Composers Guild international competition. John also constructs crossword puzzles for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the LA Times and other venues, with many of his puzzles having Nature themes. Except for his fascination with bugs and plants he is totally harmless.

Rosi Mulholland

You Have Plants? I Have Land. Let’s Make A Deal - Salvaging the Castlehill Development Site & Panel Discussion: Making the transition from poor groundcover management to excellent groundcover management

The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) and Florida Native Plant Society have partnered along with several other land managing agencies in Lake and Orange Counties to move and propagate numerous rare Lake Wales Ridge endemics typical of Lake County’s high scrubby sandhill/turkey oak barrens to the Lake Apopka North Shore restoration site. Many of these specialty plants were once common on the rolling hills found along the northern extent of the Lake Wales Ridge. Through a successful partnership, many of these rare plants are finding a new home as part of the uplands restoration  efforts at Lake Apopka North Shore.  By using the varied talents and resources that each team member brings to the table, there are glimmers of hope to establish new populations in an area where these species historically occurred and where they play an integral part in restoring the historic community type.



Rosi Mulholland graduated from the University of Maine, Orono, in 1980 with a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Management. In 1983, she received her Master’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Florida. After a brief stint working for the Florida Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Florida, Rosi was hired by the Florida Park Service in 1984 as a District Biologist for the state parks in Central Florida. She continued her career with the Florida Park Service acting as a park biologist for the Wekiva River Basin parks, and lead district biologist for two different state park service regions, and wrapped up her park service career in 2014 after serving as the statewide fire coordinator for the Florida Park Service. She began her second career in 2014 with the St. Johns River Water Management District hiring her as a Land Management Specialist for the Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area. Rosi’s passion is habitat management and restoration of upland areas. She also enjoys the early dawn mornings of bird work and the challenges of learning new techniques. Rosi is a Certified Wildlife Biologist and a Certified Burn Boss.

Jackie Rolly

FNPS Assisted Groundcover Restoration on Public Lands & Panel Discussion: Making the transition from poor groundcover management to excellent groundcover management & How to Lead the Best Field Trip Ever

Abstract - Groundcover Restoration Panel

As a panel member on restoration Jackie will provide insight into her restoration efforts at Oakland Nature Preserve, a 128 acre property of upland and wetland where the upland had been planted in citrus in the early 1900’s then in slash pines after citrus froze in the 1980’s.  Over 15 acres have been restored to Sandhill using various methods of live plants and seeds, with and without irrigation, Problems encountered in the control of invasive exotics, overabundance of pioneer tree species, use of volunteer help, public perception as the Preserve has several hiking trails.

Abstract - How to Lead the Best Field Trip Ever

Ever wish your field trip experiences could be different?  Jackie Rolly will talk on how to conduct an interesting experience, from how to advertise, how to lead and best of all, insights on interpretation and how to get the word out on our amazing and fast disappearing natural areas. Field trips to public lands and preserves are among the most important things that we organize at the Florida Native Plant Society.  Field trips provide the best opportunities to learn about native plants, plant communities and the benefits provided by our natural lands. Learn tips and tricks for organizing the best field trips ever – from safety tips to knowing your audience to understanding how different people learn.


Jacqueline (Jackie) Rolly is a resident of Seminole County and has been a member of the Tarflower Chapter of Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) since 1997.  She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from Chaminade University in Hawaii, and a Master’s Degree in Contracting from Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL.  She retired from Government service in 2006 and served as FNPS VP Admin from late 2009 to 2014. Jackie also served as Secretary for the Tarflower Chapter from May 2007 to May 2015.  Although her education is in business, her volunteer work over the past ten years in plant rescue and ecosystem restoration at the Oakland Nature Preserve continues to provide knowledge in the native plant communities and the wildlife that depends on those communities.  Jackie also has holds certification as a Master Naturalist from the University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and is lead instructor in Orange County. She was recently awarded the Florida Wildlife Society Citizen Conservation Award and was recognized by Sierra Club of Central Florida for Environmental leadership in 2013.  

Vince Morris

Habitat of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker in Florida

I will discuss premier existing examples of red-cockaded woodpecker habitat. Additionally, I will talk about the federal recovery standard and guidelines for private lands. I will present methods to maintain habitat and discoveries (plant responses) we have on the Withlacoochee State Forest when we properly managed for red-cockaded woodpeckers. Companion Field Trip - A - Cross Section of a Dry Sandhill.


Graduated from Humboldt State University (California) with B.S. in Forest Management. Did a stint with the Nature Conservancy in California while a member of the California Native Plant Society. Went into Peace Corps Guatemala for a couple of years. Moved to Florida where employed with the Florida Forest Service since 1996 as forester, forest supervisor, and administrator.

Particular areas of interest have been prescribed burning and restoring red-cockaded woodpeckers to the Withlacoochee State Forest landscape.

Founding member and current president of Hernando County Chapter FNPS.

Wendy Poag

FNPS Assisted Groundcover Restoration on Public Lands & Panel Discussion: Making the transition from poor groundcover management to excellent groundcover management

I plant a lot of species and have had some success and lots of failures.
Failures inform us best!  I have seen the dark side of Bambi, Peter Cottontail, Smokey the Bear and a pile of Sandhill Cranes and Wild Turkeys.
Mother Nature is cruel and survival is a numbers game!  

Wendy was born in Central Fla and grew up camping, fishing and boating here.

In her younger years she worked for IFAS in plant disease research --- evaluating and experimenting.  She has been propagating Florida’s native plants for over 20 years and is certified as a Horticulture Professional through FNGLA.

She has the pesticide applicators license for aquatics, ROW, Ornamental/Turf and natural areas, prescribed fire training and Natural Areas Training certificate through UF and the Nature Conservancy. She is also on the steering committee for the Big Scrub Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area.

She has worked for Lake County Parks and Trails as their naturalist/land steward/recreation coordinator (leading events and boots on the ground work) for 12 years. This has involved best management practices, water resources, conservation, restoration of ecosystems, native plants, exotic species and wildlife habitat management.

She has a B.S. in Landscape and Nursery Horticulture and an MS in Forest Resources and Conservation with a focus on ecological restoration through UF. She is a Certified Ecological Restoration Practioner through the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER).

She also currently serves on the Research Committee of the Florida Wildflower Foundation.  One of their projects can be seen in this video:

Linda Duever

Mockernut Hill Botanical Garden: Developing a Training Center for Native Groundcover Management & Panel Discussion: Making the transition from poor groundcover management to excellent groundcover management

Founder Linda Conway Duever will describe the extraordinarily biodiverse 109-acre site she selected 28 years ago for a botanical garden focused on Florida’s native vegetation and the long rocky road that has finally led to MHBG emerging into an exciting reality. Last year, seeing a fresh opportunity, Linda recruited a world-class board of directors to lead the effort into an exciting new phase. Mockernut Hill Botanical Garden is now incorporated, anticipating 501(c)3 nonprofit status, and is cooperating with Alachua Conservation Trust to secure the property, which includes a central cluster of houses and outbuildings, as a biological field station. Distressed at the needless destruction of valuable native groundcover on “preserved” lands, these outstanding ecologists are developing these facilities into the School of Groundcover Conservation to train Florida land owners and managers to recognize, protect, restore, and nurture biodiverse native groundcover. Realizing that the priceless field records of Florida’s leading naturalists are at risk, they are converting Mockernut Hill’s cedar-beamed library building into the Florida Ecological Heritage Archive. Encouraging hands-on intergenerational cooperative learning, MHBG welcomes field trips, offers workshops, and seeks volunteers, students, donors, and cooperators. Linda will review the types of workshops and experiences MHBG offers and the key lessons emphasized.


Founder Linda Conway Duever will describe the extraordinarily biodiverse 109-acre site she selected 28 years ago for a botanical garden focused on Florida’s native vegetation.  The long, rocky road has finally led to Mockernut Hill Botanical Garden (MHBG) emerging into an exciting reality. Last year, seeing a fresh opportunity, Linda recruited a world-class board of directors to lead the effort into an exciting new phase. MHBG is now incorporated, anticipating 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, and cooperating with Alachua Conservation Trust to secure the entire property, which includes a central cluster of houses and outbuildings, as a biological field station. Distressed at the needless destruction of valuable native groundcover on “preserved” lands, these outstanding ecologists are developing these facilities into the School of Groundcover Conservation to train Florida land owners and managers to recognize, protect, restore, and nurture biodiverse native groundcover. Realizing that the priceless field records of Florida’s leading naturalists are at risk, they are converting Mockernut Hill’s cedar-beamed library building into the Florida Ecological Heritage Archive. Encouraging hands-on intergenerational cooperative learning, MHBG welcomes field trips, offers workshops, varied volunteers, students, and cooperators. 

Nash Turley, PhD

UCF Citizen Science Project - Lawns to Pollinator-Friendly Wildflower Native Habitats

Lawn to Wildflowers is a citizen science project focused on converting lawns to pollinator-friendly wildflower habitat and engaging the public in collecting data on plants pollinators. Nash Turley, and other researchers at UCF, are developing a mobile app that will educate users on pollinator natural history and lawn restoration techniques as well as making it easy to purchase native plants and seeds. Topics in Nash's presentation include: 

  • The extent and ecological impacts of mowed grass lawns around the nation
  • Results from out nation-wide survey about thoughts and attitudes on lawns and wildflowers 
  • The importance of converting lawns to native wildflowers 
  • Overview of the Lawn to Wildflowers organization and how we will engage with the public



Nash Turley is a plant and insect ecologist, he is the co-founder of Lawn to Wildflowers and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Biology Department at University of Central Florida. Nash's background in biology is broad having conducted research on plant-insect interactions, evolutionary biology, and restoration ecology of prairies and longleaf pine savannas. Now Nash's work with Lawn to Wildflowers focuses on working with the public to convert lawns to pollinator friendly habitat.  

Scott Davis

Disappearing Monarchs and the Importance of Florida's Native Milkweeds


Scott Davis is a busy biologist, with ethnobotany and rare plant ecology among his passions.  Stationed at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, he serves as coordinator for a federal Milkweed-Monarch Conservation Initiative. He is also VP for the Friends of Wakulla Springs, VP for the Florida Wild Mammal Association, and as a committee member for the FWC Great Florida Birding Trail and Black Bear Stakeholders. He is president of the Magnolia (Tallahassee) Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, and serves on several FNPS committees. He also owns a native plant nursery and is an officer of a non-profit agency on urban forest conservation.

Edwin Bridges, PhD

Fire seasonality affects post-burn growth and flowering in Central Florida pine savannas and grasslands

Co-Authors: Steve L. Orzell, Alex L. Griffel, Scott G. Ward, Eric Ungberg, and James P. Cheak

We investigated post-burn growth and phenology in savanna/grassland plants of Polk and Highlands counties to determine fire seasonality effects at 14 mesic sites with low canopy cover, burned between December 14, 2016 and July 6, 2017, with 7 sites burned in the dry season and 7 sites burned in the lightning fire season.   At each site we measured the stem and/or leaf length for 10 individual plants of each species present within an area of 1 to 5 hectares of relatively homogeneous community type and burn intensity. We recorded the phenology of each plant measured, on a ten category scale. Most sites had six to eight sampling periods in 2017: 10-20 days post burn (DPB), 20 to 30 DPB, 30 to 40 DPB, 40 to 60 DPB, 60 to 90 DPB, and continuing every 30 to 60 days until November 2017.  Sampling continued during January, March-April, May-June, August, and October 2018. The data matrix of 87,977 plants of 256 species was analyzed to determine variation in growth rate and phenology related to burn date and time since burning. Analysis is ongoing, and this presentation will focus on variation in patterns of fire adaptation among the common species of this landscape.

Edwin L. Bridges, Botanical and Ecological Consultant, specializes in providing educational and research services to government agencies and nonprofits.  He has 45 years of professional experience in the flora and vegetation ecology of the Southeast, with 28 years concentrated in Florida.  He co-authored Atlas of Florida Plants first edition, authored or co-authored many new plant species, and is principal investigator for several long-term studies on post-fire vegetation and species ecology in Florida ecosystems.  He served as head of wetland delineation, wetland plant identification training, and special projects for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and as research plant taxonomist for Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.  His field research has included sites in every Florida county, and most counties in the southeastern U.S. from North Carolina to Texas.  He is the President of Mockernut Hill Botanical Garden, and a School of Groundcover Conservation instructor.  He conducts professional training workshops in native plant identification, with an emphasis on the ecological relationships of grasses and sedges.  He also provides instruction and assistance in natural resource evaluation and mapping, biodiversity database management, and citizen science initiatives documenting Florida biodiversity.  He founded the Facebook group "Florida Flora and Ecosystematics" which provides plant identification and ecology services.

Stephanie Dunn and Rebecca Bradley of Cadence

Professional Native Landscapes

Landscape architects vow to create places that serve the higher purpose of social and ecological justice for all people and species. During this course, meet a Florida-based landscape architecture firm committed to the practice of native plants in design and the opportunities and constraints that arise. The presentation will be an introduction to the art and science of landscape architecture, and how advocacy around topics of bio-diversity conservation, responsible land development and climate change educates elected officials, key stakeholders, and the community. This communicates the benefits and shows the added value, for making the case to preserve and reclaim Florida's biodiversity with the ever-growing built environment.


As landscape architects, Cadence crafts and orchestrates outdoor environments. They are
keenly aware of how their decisions affect the natural environment, the user experience and
the client’s budget. Each new project is an opportunity to transform how people interact with
the environment while meeting the triple bottom line. Their projects find solutions that bring forth the power of connecting to nature. The landscape offers society endless benefits - education, reduction of stress, improved wellness, and economic renewal can all be derived from a strong connection with the natural environment.

Living and working in South Florida, Cadence is inspired by the area’s remaining natural lands and wilderness. With many of their project sites located in a landscape already shaped by human activity, they strive to lessen the negative impact of human development through the implementation of native plants that echo the regional landscape and create a “sense of place”. Cadence believes that native plants offer as much design value as traditional exotic plants used in most cultivated landscapes while providing considerably more in terms of ecological and environmental value.

Chris Matson

You Have Plants? I Have Land. Let’s Make A Deal - Salvaging the Castle Hill Development Site & Penl Discussion: Making the transition from poor groundcover management to excellent groundcover management


Chris Matson is a District 3 biologist for the Florida Park Service.  Chris is a land manager, research assistant, and classroom instructor with 25 years of professional fire experience and invasive species management.  He enjoys challenging and difficult conservation work involving terrestrial ecological restoration, especially focusing on grasslands, savannas and woodlands and especially in pyrogenic communities.  His experience in North America extends from the northern Great Plains and prairie-forest transition to Florida. With the Florida Park Service, he strives to further the District fire program by prioritizing, scaling up pre-burn preparation and working on backlogged fuels and improving land management at several parks.

Anne Cox, PhD

“Population Augmentation and pilot plantings for the Federal Endangered Four-petal pawpaw, Asimina tetramera.”

Anne C. Cox, Ecolog, Inc. ecologinc@bellsouth.net and Marjorie Shropshire, Visual Key Creative, Inc.

Fourpetal Pawpaw (Asimina tetramera), Juno Beach. Photo CC BY 2.0 Bob Peterson

In 2005, we established and implemented a protocol for augmenting existing small populations for the recovery of the four-petal pawpaw, Asimina tetramera Small (Annonaceae) in protected areas of coastal South Florida.  The protocol was based on previous planting research and a successful pilot project started in 2001 at Hawks Bluff, southern portion of the Savanna Preserve State Park in Martin County. We established the protocol to augment existing small populations with less than 6 plants, through increasing fruit production by cross pollination and planting seeds in favorable locations for maximum germination and persistence. Since the initial pilot project in 2001, we have assisted in the augmentation on one other site and planted plants and seeds on three scrub sites with the same soil type but with no Asimina tetramera plants. All five planting sites were in public ownership. Volunteers were involved with planting and later monitoring all five sites: two in Palm Beach County; Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area (2005) and Lake Park Natural Area south of the natural range (2005), and two in Martin County Maggy’s Hammock in Stuart (2005) and Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge (2010). Collaboration with federal, state and local agencies, conservation organizations and local volunteers have been an integral part of the conservation of Asimina tetramera.


Anne Cox has been a member of the Florida Native Plant Society since September 1982. She is currently a member of the Martin County Chapter and the current past-president of FNPS. Anne started the Land Management Partners committee for FNPS in 2004. She continued as LMP Chair promoting FNPS involvement with state lands until 2014 when she accepted the position of President of FNPS (2014 to 2016). Anne earned her Ph.D. in Biology from Florida International University in Miami, FL (1998), and M.S. and B.S in Biology from Florida Atlantic University (1988 and 1982).

Anne has worked with Pine Jog Environmental Science Center, private consultants, Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management, University of Florida as research biologist on The Nature Conservancy’s Apalachicola Bluffs and Ravines Preserve, Florida Division of Florida as Rare Plant Coordinator on the Lake Wales Ridge State Forest, Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FSU) and is the owner of Ecolo-G, Inc., an environmental consulting corporation. Ecolo~G, Inc. specializes in federal and state listed species surveys, native and non-native plant identification, vegetation assessments and habitat management. Rare plant studies include the federally endangered four-petal pawpaw (Asimina tetramera), wide-leaf Warea (Warea amplexifolia), and Perforate Lichen (Cladonia perforata). Anne serves on the Advisory Board for the Friends of Jonathan Dickinson State Park; is a past member of the steering committees for the SE Florida Scrub Ecosystem Working Group and the Treasure Coast Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA). She belongs to a number of conservation organizations, including American Water Resources Association, Bok Tower Gardens, Florida Association of Environmental Professionals, Florida Wildflower Foundation, Florida Association of Native Nurseries, Natural Areas Association and the Florida Native Plant Society.

Heather Young

Setting the Stage for Regional Resiliency

Heather will provide an overview of the Tampa Bay Regional Resiliency Coalition, formally created in October 2018, what has happened so far and next steps. The Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has long been involved with collaborative resiliency planning, working to bring climate science to an actionable level for local governments with the One Bay Resilient Communities Working Group and now The Coalition.


Heather Young is a Principal Planner with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. With a wide breadth of environmental focused efforts ranging from watershed planning, dam removal, habitat restoration and climate change adaptation Heather’s interest and experience lies in finding solutions that can result in multiple benefits. She has a coastal management background, working with natural resource professionals, land planners and engineers at the local, state and federal level to implement multidisciplinary projects. Heather coordinates the Agency on Bay Management and ONE BAY Resilient Communities Working Group for the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council. Heather has a B.S. in Marine Science from Coastal Carolina University and a M.S. in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Lindsay Cross

Growing Support for Conservation Funding

Despite widespread public support for conservation, the Florida state legislature has failed to make meaningful and sustainable investments in conservation programs. 75% of voters passed Amendment 1 in 2014 to re-invigorate funding for Florida Forever to support conservation of water and land and access to recreation. Historic investments of $300 million annually have not been met and multiple years the program received no funding. Since 2014, allocations have been meager, with the largest allocation of $100 million in 2018. Midway through the 2019 session, proposed budgets are at $20M from the House and $45M from the Senate, despite a recommended investment of $100M from Governor DeSantis. Bills have also been filed that would use Land Acquisition Trust Fund (LATF) money to develop infrastructure projects like septic-to-sewer conversion that are not consistent with what the voters intended. Clearly, the majority of current elected officials do not see the value in conservation and view the LATF as an available pot of money to offset General Revenue expenditures, rather than as a dedicated fund for conservation.

What can the conservation community do to strengthen our message so that this continued onslaught does not continue? This session will focus on initiating a more effective strategy for the 2020 legislative session, including public advocacy, developing relationships with key elected officials and department heads, and better sharing the nexus between water and land conservation and the future viability of our state.


Lindsay Cross is the Public Lands Advocate for the Florida Conservation Voters. She leads a public outreach and engagement campaign to elevate the importance of public lands and the need for increased and consistent funding for conservation at the state and national level. In her role, she also lobbies the state legislature on conservation funding and other environmental issues. She served as Executive Director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor from April 2016 to July 2018. There she guided the organization’s strategic vision for a statewide connected corridor of land and water that benefits wildlife and people. She worked for 15 years at the Tampa Bay Estuary Program and, as the Environmental Science and Policy Manager, coordinated multi-entity habitat restoration and water quality improvement projects. In 2018, Lindsay ran for the Florida State Senate District 24 with a focus on protecting the environment and improving public. She holds a BS in Environmental Health from Colorado State University and a MS in Environmental Science and Policy from University of South Florida.

Jason Watts

Panel Discussion: Conservation and Roads: Finding a Direction Best Traveled

The panel will discuss how citizens, planners, and conservation organizations like FNPS can partner more effectively with the Florida Department of Transportation to ensure that future transportation development achieves the proper balance between protection of natural resources, quality of life for the people of Florida, and economic development.


Jason Watts is the Director of the Office of Environmental Management (OEM) for the Florida Department of Transportation.  Through OEM, Mr. Watts establishes the policies and procedures for the Department’s environmental review of potential projects as well as serving as the final approving authority for projects that have the potential to have significant impact on the environment. He obtained a law degree from Florida State University after receiving his bachelor of science in analytical mathematics from the United States Military Academy at West Point.  Previously he served as Chief Counsel for Contracts and Special Projects for the Department where he managed a staff of attorneys and also advised on public-private partnership projects, design-build projects, utility issues, complex transactions, as well as various other contractual issues.

Workshop Leaders