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).


2017 Honorees

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

(see map)


Saturday, March 18th
Event begins at 5:30pm

Interested in being a Corporate Sponsor for the event?

Check out our corporate sponsor packet for info, CLICK HERE.

If you would like to become a sponsor or have any questions, please contact Alachua Conservation Trust by phone: (352) 373-1078 or email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)



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