2017 CONSERVATION STEWARDS AWARDS
WOMEN in the WOODS
Alachua Conservation Trust will soon host its 18th Annual Conservation Stewards Awards. These awards honor individuals in our community who are influential in a wide variety of ways - the arts, historic preservation, and particularly, in protecting our wildlife and natural resources.
This year, we are celebrating the contribution of women in their efforts to protect the environment with “Women in the Woods” as our theme. Women have long played a prominent role in the conservation movement, and recognizing their achievements is not only timely and deserved, but also instrumental in empowering other women to create their own impact in saving the woods we treasure so much.
The Conservation Stewards Awards is one of the largest gatherings of community leaders and conservationists in the region, and features a cocktail hour, dinner, awards ceremony and live music. You don’t want to miss Florida’s biggest conservation event of the year!
The festivities kick-off with a social hour beginning at 5:30PM. It will be followed by a “local foods” dinner and the awards ceremony. We will wrap up the evening with live music from the Wax Wings. Buy your tickets early and get a $20 discount, cost is $70 per person now but increases to $90 on March 12th (children under 12 are free).
When people in Gainesville admire trees, they often think of Meg Niederhofer’s work as City Arborist.
Her initial assignment was to supervise the tree surgeons who pruned and removed trees
on public property. She had learned how to work in the family business, where her father advised
“Always agree to offers of more responsibility.” So every time she was asked to do something new,
she always said “yes!” Eventually and with the help of many others, Meg made sure that the City
of Gainesville had a comprehensive urban forestry program which included the review of development
proposals, inspection of construction sites for compliance with regulations to protect and
replant trees, revision of the urban forestry portions of the Land Development Code, as well
development of a planting program that established thousands of young trees throughout town
and helped lead Gainesville to its thirty-three year designation as a “Tree City, USA” by the Arbor
Day Foundation. The Waldo Road Greenway, Archer Road plantings, neighborhood treescapes,
and the planting of native trees in all City parks were some of Meg’s favorite projects. She was
able to write successful grant applications for the City of Gainesville that brought in more money
for urban forestry than she was paid in salary on many occasions during her career. After retiring,
Meg turned again toward the humanitarian interests that led her to join VISTA in 1970. She now
volunteers at Helping Hands Women’s Clinic, Caring and Sharing Learning School, ACT, and
willingly helps on almost any project her husband Hutch suggests matters a lot but doesn’t have
time for – the next being the Community Walk for the National Alliance of Mental Illness in
October at Depot Park. She hopes to see you there!
Pat Harden is a native Floridian whose involvement in conservation efforts spans nearly five
decades. She is currently the Coordinator of the Protect Paynes Prairie Coalition (PPC), an active
and vibrant group of representatives from several conservation organizations that deeply care
about this unique local treasure. Last year, PPC’s efforts led to a 300 person rally and demonstration
to protest consumptive uses within all state parks and in particular, Paynes Prairie. The
group remains vigilant in preparation to respond to any future threats to the park. Pat also serves
as Vice-President of the Florida Springs Institute, a non-profit making valiant efforts to provide
data, management plans and educational activities to government and the private sector aimed
at restoring and protecting Florida’s unique springs. Pat served eight years on the St. John’s River
Water Management District Governing Board including two years as chair, supporting conservation
land purchases, the Upper St. John’s River Restoration Project and urging investigations into
spring flow declines as well as the establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels (MF&L) within
the District. She served as an active member of the Board of Trustees of the Florida Chapter of
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) for 40 years and continues as a member of their Chairman’s
Council. Pat is a founding member of the Friends of the Wekiva River, Inc. (FOWR), whose activities
led to large land purchases within the Wekiva Springs spring watershed and to the first established
river MF&L among other rules and designations, making it the most well-protected river
in Florida. She has served on numerous advisory committees and boards including Federal, State,
Regional and Local governments/agencies as well as many other conservation organizations. Pat’s
husband Fred, is a founding member of the Florida Chapter of TNC and the FOWR, and has been
her stalwart partner, supporter and companion throughout her many conservation endeavors.
The Wax Wings
Wax Wings is an original confessional alt-country sextet from Gainesville, featuring Brian Turk on upright bass, Andrew Cook on fiddle, Nicholas Caputo on accordion, Ernie Williams on tuba, Mike Dorsey on drums, and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Chelsea Carnes. Wax Wings weaves various threads of influence including folk-punk, jazz, honky-tonk, and classical into a unique tapestry of inimitable harmony. With distinctively forceful vocals, Carnes captivates with relatable lyrics about friendship and loss. The results are strikingly textured and sincere compositions that both inspire and haunt. Their wide appeal has seen them playing venues ranging from Gasparilla Music Fest to the The Florida Folk Festival.
”...enthusiastic and inspiring music that can make even the most jaded concertgoer blush with excitement.” –The Gainesville Sun
”...affecting, personal…Gainesville chamber-grass” –The Tampa Bay Times
Prairie Creek Lodge